Fast Track Bill Strikes Blow Against BDS Movement

bdsflyer1— by Ronald S. Lauder, president of World Jewish Congress

Yesterday, Senate approved a strong stand against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement included in the bill granting fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The BDS amendment discourages actions by potential U.S. trading partners such as the European Union that prejudice or discourage trade between the U.S. and Israel, in particular “politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.” It also seeks “the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.”

The legislation was already passed by the House of Representatives and can now be signed into law by President Obama.

The amendment by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL 6) throws a wrench in the works of the campaign to boycott Israel. It upholds the principle that those who seek to harm the Jewish state cannot subvert free global commerce for their own perverse political agenda. America’s elected representatives today made it again clear that they stand with Israel and against BDS.

Jerusalem Bloodbath: Abbas Blamed for Incitement

— by Michael Thaidigsmann

At lnovember-19-2014-what-jerusalem-needs-now-webeast four people, including a rabbi, were killed and more than a dozen others wounded when two Arab terrorists burst into the synagogue during morning prayers and attacked worshipers with a gun, a meat cleaver and an ax.

President Obama referred to the fact that three of the victims were Americans in his statement:

I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more.  There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.  The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence.  At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.

november-18-2014-please-leave-us-alone-web

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) president, Ronald Lauder, said the bloodbath in the Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof was “obviously the result of an orchestrated campaign by Palestinian groups whose sole aim is to incite to hatred against Jews.”

Lauder welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the attack, but said that in order to be credible Abbas had to stop the “vicious incitement against Israelis that is happening on his watch”:

Instead of opposing the extremists in his own ranks, Mr. Abbas has been placating them. If he wants to retain any credibility he must show strong, unequivocal leadership now. Failure to do so would have catastrophic consequences and would probably put a stop to the peace process for many years to come. The next weeks will show if he is a credible Palestinian leader.

The WJC president called it “an outrage” that houses of prayer were now being deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorists:

Houses of worship anywhere in the world must be sacrosanct. Whoever attacks peaceful worshipers in a synagogue, a mosque or a church is nothing but a despicable criminal.

The two perpetrators were killed by police officers arriving at the scene. It was the deadliest terror attack in Jerusalem in many years.

Cartoons courtesy of The Cartoon Kronicles @ http://cartoonkronicles.com/

Conference to Raise Cause of Jewish Refugees From Muslim Countries


Jewish refugee camp in Israel, 1950.

The “forgotten refugees” of the Arab-Israel conflict — Jews forced from their homes in Arab countries — will gain a hearing at the United Nations Building in New York tomorrow, at a conference named “The Untold Story of the Middle East: Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries.”

The conference will urge that American and international diplomacy recognize the rights of the Middle East’s Jewish refugees on an equal footing with those of other refugees in the region, including Palestinian Arabs — an especially salient topic given ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The conference will be convened by Israel’s Mission to the United Nations, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.

“The world has long recognized the Palestinian refugee problem, but without recognizing the other side of the story — the 850,000 Jewish refugees of Arab countries,” president of WJC, Ronald S. Lauder, said.

More after the jump.
The conference will hear presentations from Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Silvan Shalom, Israeli Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ron Prosor, Lauder, Conference of Presidents Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein, and Co-President of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries Sylvain Abitbol.

The film The Forgotten Refugees, a documentary by Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, will be screened.

“For any Middle East peace process to be credible and enduring, it must ensure that all bona fide refugees receive equal rights and treatment under international law,” Lauder said.

May His Memory Be for a Blessing: Tadeusz Mazowiecki (1927-2013)

Mazowiecki served as the prime minister of Poland after the fall of Communism from 1989 to 1991.

— by Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress

Tadeusz Mazowiecki was one of the architects of the modern, democratic Poland and a friend of Israel and the Jewish people.

The Jews are grateful to Tadeusz Mazowiecki for his staunch defense of their rights as Poland emerged from communism, and for his help in resolving the crisis of the Carmelite convent on the grounds of Auschwitz in the early 1990s. He will also be remembered for speaking out against anti-Semitism clearly and unequivocally and exposing war crimes as special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia. May his memory be for a blessing.

More after the jump.
The Mazowiecki government re-established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1990, and helped to open Polish airports for Jews leaving the then-Soviet Union. He was also part of the group that successfully fought for the repeal of the 1975 United Nations General Assembly Resolution, that determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.

Mazowiecki’s silent but effective diplomacy ensured that his country’s transition was successful. Together with Lech Walesa (pictured to the right), he laid the foundations for what is today the strongest country both economically and politically in Central and Eastern Europe.

WJC President Urges Dismissal of Richard Falk from the UN


Richard Falk

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), strongly condemned the article by the special rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Richard A. Falk, in which he blames the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon earlier this month on Israel and on American foreign policy.

More after the jump.
Lauder declared:

The preposterous remarks to which Richard Falk periodically treats the world ought to disqualify him for any position at the United Nations. Yet he continues on the payroll of the UN Human Rights Council as a ‘special rapporteur’, and senior UN officials are refusing to even comment on his remarks.

Someone who publicly justifies despicable acts of terrorism and the deliberate murder of civilians by arguing that somehow Israel and the United States are to blame for such acts is unhinged and therefore entirely unsuited to serve as an advisor to what ought to be the world’s top human rights body. It is high time that Mr. Falk is removed from his post at the United Nations.

In a letter to Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird, Lauder expressed appreciation over the Canadian government’s clear condemnation of Falk:

It is important that Americans and others understand the strong friend that we have in Canada, in Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and particularly you, Canada’s Foreign Minister.

Baird had said in reaction:

Once again, United Nations official Richard Falk has spewed more mean-spirited, anti-Semitic rhetoric, this time blaming the attacks in Boston on President Obama and the State of Israel. The United Nations should be ashamed to even be associated with such an individual.

Lauder told the Canadian foreign minister that as “an American, I am deeply ashamed that such shocking statements would be held by a fellow citizen.”

I am even more horrified by the fact that Falk holds a place of prominence at the United Nations, an institution already sullied by its one-sided approach towards Israel.

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.

Jewish Community Welcomes Pope Francis

— by Ronald S. Lauder

Pope Francis is no stranger to us. In recent years he attended many inter-faith events co-organized by the WJC and our regional affiliate, the Latin American Jewish Congress. I personally met with him in Buenos Aires in June 2008. He always had an open ear for our concerns. By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world. I am sure that Pope Francis will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.

During the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic-Jewish relations reached unprecedented levels. This was due to the determination of the pope to continue the work of his predecessor, John Paul II. We are convinced that new pontiff will continue on this path, that he will speak out against all forms of Antisemitism both within and without the Catholic Church, that he will take action against clerics who deny or belittle the Holocaust, and that he will strengthen the Vatican’s relationship with Israel.

More reactions follow the jump.
B’nai B’rith International

In November, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was the keynote speaker at B’nai B’rith’s Krystallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires, where he helped light the menorah.

“We welcome Pope Francis I to his new role as leader of the Catholic Church,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Catholic-Jewish relations had remained a focus of Pope Benedict XVI and we look forward to continuing the solid foundation that already exists for interfaith dialogue.”


Cardinal Jorge Jorge María Bergoglio (now known as Pope Francis) and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder in Buenos AIres in 2008.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs Chair Larry Gold

We offer our sincerest blessings and hope that our cherished friendship with the Catholic Church will continue to flourish and deepen. We are heartened by his profound statement of solidarity with the Jewish people and his identity with the pain that was caused by the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow

We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the Catholic church in combating poverty, a great legacy of the Pope during his tenure as Cardinal of Buenos Aires. In a world so awfully divided by wealth and opportunity, may his teaching and example help to heal our broken world and bring us closer to a time when no person goes to bed hungry.