Senate Passes Immigration Reform Measure‏

— by Marc R. Stanley

The Senate has taken a huge step toward reforming our immigration system and creating a more just America. Now it is up to the House of Representatives to take immediate action on this important issue. Inaction by Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and the rest of the GOP leadership will only continue to prove that the Republican Party is tone deaf to the will of the American people — especially when it comes to Jewish Americans and our partners in the Jewish community who worked tirelessly to get this bill passed.

Stanley recently authored an op-ed in The Huffington Post on how the current immigration reform proposal reflects Jewish values.

Reaction from the President and Jewish Organizations (NJDC, BBI, JCPA) follow the jump.
President Barack Obama:

Statement by President Obama on Senate Passage of Immigration Reform

Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.

I thank Majority Leader Reid, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and every member of the ‘Gang of Eight’ for their leadership, and I commend all Senators who worked across party lines to get this done.  

The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise.  By definition, nobody got everything they wanted.  Not Democrats.  Not Republicans.  Not me.  But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.

If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history.  It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.  It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time.  And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.

Today, the Senate did its job.  It’s now up to the House to do the same.

As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye.  Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality.  We cannot let that happen.  If you’re among the clear majority of Americans who support reform – from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy – reach out to your Member of Congress.  Tell them to do the right thing.  Tell them to pass commonsense reform so that our businesses and workers are all playing by the same rules and everyone who’s in this country is paying their fair share in taxes.

We have a unique opportunity to fix our broken system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  We just need Congress to finish the job.

B’nai B’rith International:

B’nai B’rith International welcomes the Senate’s passage of a bill overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.

B’nai B’rith has been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. We commend the bipartisan group of senators who worked to form a consensus on a more just and humane immigration policy.

This compromise legislation would strengthen border security and employment verification while creating a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. It would also allow for more legal immigration of low-skilled and high-skilled workers.

Comprehensive immigration reform is a welcome and worthy accomplishment. We urge the House to quickly consider and pass the bill.

National Jewish Democratic Council:

The Jewish community strongly supports immigration reform. According to a recent survey, 70% of American Jews believe that welcoming the stranger and pursuing justice are important political values. Further, a strong majority of Americans are in support of proposals that allow undocumented workers to achieve legal status, increase border security and enforcement, and increase visas for technology and science.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) President Rabbi Steve Gutow:

We are an Immigration Nation. For hundreds of years, people from all over the world have traveled to the United States to build better lives. Our national commitment to immigration has been critical to our national prosperity: powering innovation, creativity, and growth. However, over the past decades, our system has become tarnished with an outmoded visa system, long waiting times, harsh detention and deportation policies, and millions of immigrants without a lawful status. Today, the U.S. Senate acted in accordance with our best values: national leaders compromising to expand justice, dignity, and opportunity. In the Torah, we are taught to ‘welcome the stranger.’ Today, the Senate restored our national commitment to immigration and relight the torch of promise that welcomes aspiring Americans through the golden door.

JCPA Chair Larry Gold:

We applaud the leadership and conviction of the bipartisan group of Senators that introduced and guided this bill. That spirit of compromise and cooperation has sadly become a rarity in Washington, but today is a reminder of the important results it can yield. The Senate today has taken an important step towards a more humane system of immigration that reflects our morals while meeting our security and economic needs. However, this bill still needs improvement. We remain concerned about the level of resources being dedicated to the Southern border and how this impact communities. We look forward to working with Congress to refine this legislation. The Senate’s action today was a model of bipartisanship and we encourage the House of Representatives to adopt this spirit and quickly consider this serious bill that would bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

B’nai B’rith Addresses Anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council Session‏


Canadian politicians criticize Falk

Yesterday, B’nai B’rith International spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during the anti-Israel “agenda item 7” session. B’nai B’rith addressed UNHRC special rapporteur Richard Falk’s appalling recent comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on the United States’ foreign policy, and urged his removal.

Klaus Netter, B’nai B’rith representative to the U.N. in Geneva, said:

Just a few weeks ago, the entire world was shocked to hear and see the bombing that occurred at the end of the Boston Marathon, resulting in the death of three and the injury of hundreds of innocent bystanders. Yet, there were a few contrary reactions, such as the one expressed by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories… In the Foreign Policy Journal dated 21 April 2013, he wrote: ‘The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance… the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks.’

Continued after the jump.

A few days later, a U.N. spokesman said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Boston Marathon bombing and that he ‘strongly believed that nothing can justify such an attack.’ He rejected Falk’s comments and indicated that… such public comments by special rapporteurs ‘could undermine the U.N.’s credibility and the work of the United Nations.’

Separately, B’nai B’rith joined European representatives at the council and U.S. Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe in taking Falk to task on a biased report he delivered at the council, blasting Israeli policies toward Gaza.

Netter noted that only the council can remove Falk from his position, and added, “We strongly urge such action at this session of the council.”

Rice and Power Picked for Top Foreign Policy Jobs

Yesterday, President Obama announced that after more than four years overseeing the work of the National Security Council, Tom Donilon will depart in July as National Security Advisor and will be succeeded by Susan Rice. Ambassador Rice will be succeeded by Samantha Power as the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, pending Senate confirmation.

Reactions from BBI, NJDC and JCPA follow the the jump.


Susan Rice and Samantha Power

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement, welcoming Rice’s appointment:

Rice was previously the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and served as a positive force within the world body. She often defended Israel against malicious one-sided resolutions intended to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Rice spoke at the United Nations about the importance of direct negotiation between the parties to the Middle East conflict and urged the world body to resist unilateral measures aimed at circumventing the peace process.

Rice also expressed U.S. support for strong international sanctions against Iran and made clear America’s determination to prevent the regime in Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

B’nai B’rith looks forward to working with Rice in her new position. We hope that in her new role she will be a force for advancing the same principles she fought for at the U.N.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Chair Marc R. Stanley said:

On behalf of the NJDC Board, I want to thank Tom Donilon for his service to the Obama Administration. Donilon has been a part of President Obama’s most significant defense policy decisions, including the Administration’s work to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Without question, Susan Rice has served the Obama Administration well in the United Nations and has made combatting anti-Israel bias a top priority for the U.S. delegation. NJDC commends her for her work at the U.N. and we know that she will serve the President effectively as his new National Security Advisor. We also congratulate Samantha Power on her selection and have full confidence that she will continue Rice’s work on behalf of the United States and Israel in U.N. bodies.

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said:

Both Susan Rice and Samantha Power have been dedicated public servants and important partners in our work. As Ambassador to the U.N., Rice has played a crucial role in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship and has been a steadfast ally for the Jewish state through many pressing challenges. Just a few weeks ago, leaders from the JCPA, The Jewish Federations of North America, UJA-Federation of New York, and the JCRC of New York visited Amb. Rice and gave her a mezuzah for her New York office in honor of her staunch support for Israel and as a symbol of her friendship with the American Jewish community.  We look forward to continuing our work together when she returns to Washington and assumes her new role.

We have also worked closely with Samantha Power over the years in her roles as journalist, activist, and government official.  Power has been a critical voice on human rights issues and we are very proud of our joint work to confront atrocities, including that in Darfur and the ongoing crisis in Sudan.

Senator Frank Lautenberg Dies at 89

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the last World War II veteran in the Senate, died today at the age of 89. (John Dingell (D-MI) and Ralph M. Hall (R-TX) are the two surviving World War II veterans in the House of Representatives.) He served in the Senate continuously in the years 1982-2001, and again since 2003.

  • Lautenberg wrote the legislation that set the national drinking age at 21. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this law saved 4,441 lives between 2003 and 2008.
  • His legislation has also lowered the blood alcohol level threshold for drunk driving to 0.08%.
  • During the Bush administration, Lautenberger repeatedly introduced legislation to close the terrorist loophole which allowed American companies to set up offices in the Cayman Islands and continue to do business with the National Iranian Oil Company.
  • A former two-pack-a-day smoker, Lautenberg wrote legislation that banned smoking on airplanes, federal buildings, and federally funded buildings that serviced children. This was one of the first restrictions on smoking in America.
  • The Senator also sponsored the legislation which bans access to firearms by people convicted of crimes of domestic violence.

After the jump: President Obama and Jewish organizations mourn the loss.


Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran in the United States Senate.

The White House issued the following statement by President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proud New Jerseyan who lived America’s promise as a citizen, and fought to keep that promise alive as a senator.

The son of working-class immigrants, Frank joined the Army during World War II, went to college on the GI Bill, and co-founded one of America’s most successful companies. First elected to the Senate in 1982, he improved the lives of countless Americans with his commitment to our nation’s health and safety, from improving our public transportation to protecting citizens from gun violence to ensuring that members of our military and their families get the care they deserve.  Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg family, and the people of New Jersey, whom Frank served so well.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Chair Marc R. Stanley issued the following statement:

The entire National Jewish Democratic Council family extends its deepest condolences to Senator Frank Lautenberg’s family, friends, and the people of New Jersey. The late Senator leaves behind a distinguished record of public and Jewish communal service that distinguishes him as a giant among American Jewish political leaders. He was a staunch defender of progressive ideals and a stalwart advocate for the State of Israel and the American Jewish community. Lautenberg was a true friend to NJDC and we will forever miss his wisdom and insight.

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:

B’nai B’rith International mourns the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Lautenberg was a World War II veteran and a dear friend of the Jewish community. As a senator from New Jersey for more than 28 years, he was a staunch supporter of Israel, a champion of free emigration for Soviet and Iranian Jews, and a booster of the rights of Jewish refugees from the Middle East.

Lautenberg died the morning of June 3 at the age of 89 due to complications from viral pneumonia. He was the oldest member and the last World War II veteran to serve in Congress.

Lautenberg was a respected voice on many human rights issues, and he was key in enacting a number of health and safety laws.

The five-term senator was well respected amongst his colleagues and constituents. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.


Left to right: Joy Malkus, Marcia Balonick,
Sen. Lautenberg, and Betsy Sheerr

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow and Chair Larry Gold said:

Senator Lautenberg’s passing is a loss for all of us and we will be forever grateful for his leadership, thoughtfulness and friendship. He exemplified the Jewish values of social justice and compassion which is why we were honored to award him the Al Chernin Award in 2007, in recognition of his leadership and service. With his death, we have lost the last veteran of World War II in the Senate and a Jewish and American leader who was clearly committed to a better world for all.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

Frank Lautenberg was a staunch supporter of Israel and a leader in Jewish communal life. He served his country during World War II and in decades of dedicated public service. His work in the Senate helped thousands of Soviet Jews and other victims of religious persecution to reach freedom. He was a proud Jew and a proud American. May his family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

BBI Denounces Canadian Church for Boycott of Israeli Businesses‏


Ahava plant near the Dead Sea

B’nai B’rith International denounced the United Church of Canada (UCC) for calling upon its two million members to boycott Israeli companies that do business in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Last week, the United Church of Canada’s general council approved boycotts of Israeli companies Keter Plastic, SodaStream and Ahava. This is a continuation of a resolution passed by the church in August 2012 to boycott Israeli products exported from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. This time, the UCC has specific targets and plans to dissuade Canadian businesses from selling the products of the targeted businesses. The reasoning behind these actions, the church said, is its view that Israeli settlements are the “principal obstacle to peace in the region.”

More after the jump.
B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs said:

With Canada being such a principled supporter of Israel and of peace, it is distressing that the United Church of Canada would engage in the boycotting of Israeli companies and their products. To pass this resolution is to attack Israel, and to single out the Jewish state for hostility while ignoring the real impediments to peace in the Middle East.

B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said:

Anytime an organization decides to promote a campaign boycotting Israeli products or companies, it is clearly a move seeking to hurt Israelis. This boycott will only serve to cause more friction in the region, and to recklessly export it to the Christian-Jewish relationship in North America.

The primary obstacle to peace in the region is Palestinian intransigence. Until the Palestinians agree to return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions — and to end violent extremists’ rejection of Jews’ fundamental rights in their homeland — prospects for peace will sadly remain dim.

Message to NRA & GOP: Stand with ADL and B’nai B’rith Against Beck

— by Aaron Keyak

Glenn Beck’s use of disgusting imagery, showing a leading Jewish American as a Nazi, at the National Rifle Association’s convention was deeply offensive. The NRA and Republican leaders must stand with the ADL and B’nai B’rith in condemning Glenn Beck — especially those who selected him to give the NRA’s keynote address. This isn’t only about what Beck said, but the disturbing fact that his stunt was embraced with applause and cheers by attendees at the NRA’s national convention. The NRA’s crowd is the Republican base and all Americans must take note.

Report from ABC News after the jump.
ABC News reported:

Glenn Beck roused the National Rifle Association’s annual convention this weekend with his attacks on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but he also aroused criticism by a major Jewish group for depicting the mayor giving a Nazi salute.

The head of the Anti-Defamation League called Becks’ comments “deeply offensive on so many levels,” and B’nai B’rith called for Beck to apologize.

“Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker at the NRA’s annual convention, trivializes the Holocaust when he compares New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Adolf Hitler,” B’nai B’rith told ABC News.

“The casual use of Nazi imagery or words serves to undermine the atrocities of the Holocaust. Glenn Beck should apologize,” the organization said. […]

Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, objected to the image and Beck’s comments:

“While he doesn’t say it, it seems Glenn Beck is implying through an image of Mayor Bloomberg in an apparent Hitlerian salute is that the mayor’s policies on gun ownership and other issues are turning New York city into a Nazi-like state. That suggestion is outrageous, insensitive and deeply offensive on so many levels,” Foxman said.

“Glenn Beck should know better. He has drawn similar inappropriate analogies to the Holocaust before. We wish he would stop trivializing the history of the Holocaust to score partisan political points,” he added.

B’nai B’rith, UN Watch Denounce UN Boston Bombing Justifier

On April 21, Foreign Policy Journal published an article written by Richard Falk, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, in which he associates the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured 170 others with America’s dealings overseas and an alleged willingness to act on behalf of the Israeli government. Falk was recently expelled by the Human Rights Watch organization, yet he retains his UN position. Yesterday, B’nai B’rith International issued the following statement on the subject:

B’nai B’rith International is outraged and disgusted by the latest anti-Israel comments of […] Falk, who took to the Internet over the weekend to blame the Boston Marathon bombings on the United States’ foreign policy and, more specifically, its “compliant ear” in regard to Israel. […]

We once again call for Falk’s removal from his position within the UNHRC. His latest string of inflammatory remarks-whether it be on the Internet or in one of his “reports” to the council-has no place in the United Nations and his continued presence at the UNHRC further undermines the credibility of the system.

He is a vigorous supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions anti-Israel movement and has a long history of outrageous statements and actions, including suggestions that the U.S. government may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog.

Falk continues to be an embarrassment for the world body, and thus, should be removed from his post.

After the jump: UN Watch demands Ban Ki-moon’s condemnation.
In a letter sent yesterday to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the Geneva-based non-governmental monitoring group UN Watch demanded the condemnation of Falk:

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We write to express our outrage over yesterday’s statement by Richard Falk — a top official of the United Nations Human Rights Council — in which he justifies the Boston terrorist attacks as due “retribution” for American sins, warns of “worse blowbacks” unless America changes its foreign policy, blames “Tel Aviv” and exploits a moment of tragedy and mourning to advance a disturbing political agenda.

We urge you to condemn Mr. Falk, the UNHRC’s permanent investigator of Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law, for his affront to the memory of those who were killed last week, to the injured, and to the people of Boston. His remarks are a violation of your own policy that UN experts live up to the highest standards, which you set forth two years ago when you admirably rebuked Mr. Falk for spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories on his blog.

Falk’s Foreign Policy Journal article entitled “A Commentary on the Marathon Murders,” dated April 21, 2013, and annexed here, makes three ignominious points.

First, its thesis is that Americais to blame for last week’s atrocity. Falk approvingly cites comments justifying the Boston Marathon bombings as “retribution” for the actions of the U.S.military in Afghanistan,IraqandPakistan. “The American global domination project,” says Falk, bears responsibility for provoking “all kinds of resistance” in the post-colonial world. He calls for “courage” to “connect some of these dots.” Crystallizing his justification of the terrorist attacks, he writes: “Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”

Terrorism will target Americans until they reflect upon and change their action, says Falk. Lamenting a “taboo” on “self-scrutiny,” he predicts “adjustments” that will come either from “a voluntary process of self-reflection” or “through the force of unpleasant events.” America’s “military prowess” and “hard power diplomacy” make the country “a menace to the world and to itself.”

“How many canaries will have to die,” asks Falk, “before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”

Second, Falk conjures up the sinister specter of another global menace by blaming the Boston bombings on the Jewish state: “[A]s long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.”

President Obama is accused of having delivered “a love letter to the Israeli public” during his recent trip there, and of practicing “obsequious diplomacy.” Falk predicts “worse blowbacks” if the U.S.does not change its Middle East policy.

Third, the essay alludes to the same 9/11 conspiracy theories that caused you and other world leaders to condemn him in 2011. Falk speaks of “holy war fevers espoused by national leaders, the media, and a vengeful public after the 9/11 attacks” which “embraced Islamophobic falsehoods.” This was exploited by Bush White House officials “openly seeking a pretext to launch a regime-changing war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.” According to Falk, “[T]he 9/11 events, as interpreted and spun, provided just the supportive domestic climate needed for launching an aggressive war against the Baghdad regime.”

Excellency, Mr. Falk’s odious and preposterous remarks insult last week’s victims and discredit the cause of human rights and the founding principles of the United Nations. We urge you to speak out.

Sincerely,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.drybonesblog.blogspot.com

B’nai B’rith to Host Top Israeli Biofuel Researchers


Fuel prices in Germany in Euros per liter.
US equivalent would be $4.87/gallon for bio-diesel and $5.51/gallon for diesel.

Today, B’nai B’rith International will host a welcome reception for 15 of Israel’s top biofuel researchers as they kick off a week-long scientific dialogue in the United States. The visitors, winners of the U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge, will begin their program with a briefing at the White House, followed by the event at B’nai B’rith headquarters.

Sponsored and coordinated by two not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF), the U.S-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge fosters a scientific exchange between Israeli experts and their counterparts in U.S. government agencies and private industry. The goals are to build bilateral energy cooperation between the two countries and to spur research and development on alternative fuels that can replace fuels derived from imported oil.

“We applaud the organizers of the Bio-Energy Challenge and we’re excited to be hosting some of Israel’s top minds in the field of biofuel research at our event,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

Israel is a global leader in cutting-edge R&D in this area, so we hope the dialogue they begin with American experts during their trip here will help both countries advance their common goal of independence from traditional fossil fuels.

Continued after the jump.
The Israeli delegation’s trip will includes stops in Washington, D.C., Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Emeryville, Calif. The visitors will meet a number of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, NASA and other agencies, as well as top private and academic researchers.

“It’s important the United States and Israel work on this issue together,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.

For too long, the U.S. and its allies have relied on fuel from countries whose interests are adverse to our own. This oil dependence threatens our national security and we welcome increased cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in tackling this issue.

WJC President: Netanyahu Did the Right Thing Apologizing to Turkey


Turkish and Israeli Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Binyamin Netanyahu.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder today warmly welcomed the thaw in relations between Israel and Turkey. Lauder said the news has been met by “a sigh of relief” in many Jewish communities around the world. He praised Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said it had been “the right thing to do in this situation”, despite the “very justified reservations” Netanyahu and others in Israel had had against such a step. Lauder expressed hope that the gesture by Israel would effectively end the diplomatic crisis between the two countries:

Turkey and Israel must work together. There are so many issues in the region where these two countries can make a difference. One of them is military cooperation in order to secure geopolitical stability in the Middle East.

B’nai B’rith International’s response after the jump.
Lauder said he had met with Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu seven times since the Gaza Flotilla incident in May 2010:

In these talks the Turkish side has always made it clear that if Israel apologizes a new beginning in relations is possible. We sincerely hope that they will keep their word.

The WJC president praised US President Barack Obama for brokering a breakthrough in Israeli-Turkish relations:

President Obama’s visit to Israel was extremely important. He has shown that American leadership is essential if any progress is to be made in the peace process. On behalf of the World Jewish Congress I wholeheartedly thank him not just for helping to restore Israeli-Turkish relations but also for his important visit to Israel. His visit further strengthened the bond between Israelis and Americans. We hope that this provide the basis for renewed efforts to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

B’nai B’rith International also welcomed the restoration of full relations between the two countries:

The normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey — the region’s only two democracies — sends a strong message of stability in a troubled part of the world.  

This positive development comes amid the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, where human rights groups estimate 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the two years since the uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and countless thousands have been displaced.

White House Condemns Turkish PM’s Anti-Israel Statements

— by David Streeter

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor condemned Turkish Prime Minsiter Tayyip Erdogan’s hateful remarks about Zionism:

We reject Prime Minister Erdogan’s characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity, which is offensive and wrong. We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times.

Also, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to “bring Erdogan to task” for his comments during their bilateral meeting. As Secretary Kerry flew to Ankara, a Senior State Department Aide criticized the remarks:

This was particularly offensive, frankly, to call Zionism a crime against humanity […] It does have a corrosive effect (on relations). I am sure the secretary will be very clear about how dismayed we were to hear it.

B’nai B’rith International’s statement on the subject after the jump.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement on the subject:

At a United Nations “Alliance of Civilizations” summit, convened to focus on global tolerance, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan engaged in a deplorable act by calling Zionism “a crime against humanity.”

B’nai B’rith International strongly condemns Erdoğan’s effort to revive inflammatory language equating Zionism with racism. This insidious canard was introduced at the United Nations in 1975 and rightly revoked in 1991. Erdoğan has reintroduced this odious charge to the U.N. environment.

Zionism is the embodiment of the millennia-old Jewish longing for self-determination and a return to the Jewish homeland.

Erdoğan made his pronouncement before an audience of senior-international leaders in Vienna, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This is not the first time Erdoğan has made inciteful remarks about Israel or Jews. In November, he called Israel a “terrorist state,” during the Hamas-instigated fighting in Gaza.

B’nai B’rith calls on Erdoğan to apologize for his remarks and urges the United Nations to condemn these sentiments.