B’nai B’rith Condemns European Anti-Circumcision Resolution


A Jewish Circumcision.

B’nai B’rith International (BBI) condemned the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for passing a resolution that declares ritual circumcision a “violation of children’s physical integrity.”

The resolution calls upon member states to “adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.” While non-binding, the resolution could encourage a frightening infringement upon basic religious freedoms and on the ability of Jewish and other faith communities in Europe to exist.

“By advancing this resolution, the Council of Europe has not proposed the advancement of human rights, but rather the denial of rights,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

More after the jump.

It is an extremely slippery slope — one which inexcusably misreads and oversimplifies scientific understandings, and seeks to impose certain societies’ cultural norms on others. This resolution transparently aims to marginalize and exclude specific minority communities.

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

Circumcision is not discretionary, but rather central, in Jewish life and practice throughout history. It must be made clear what those who support the criminalizing of circumcision in Europe are proposing: discrimination against the Jewish community in Europe.

In its statement, BBI urged all European leaders, governments and societies to “decisively reject a path of government coercion and imposition in religious life.”  

Jewish Leaders Praise Amb. Rice for Pro-Israel Leadership at UN

— by Jason Berger

JTA’s Ron Kampeas provided a roundup of what Jewish leaders are saying about Ambassador Susan Rice, who could be nominated as Hillary Clinton’s successor for Secretary of State.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman stated:

She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum… And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.

Foxman was also “furious” at the recent attacks on Rice’s record:

People may differ about the effectiveness of certain tactics or, as we have often done, even seriously question whether bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council will ever give Israel a fair hearing… But no one should use the U.N.’s anti-Israel record to cast aspersions on Ambassador Rice. She has earned her reputation as a fighter for Israel’s equality in a hostile forum where an automatic majority reflexively expresses its bias against Israel.

JTA quoted B’nai Brith International Executive Vice President Daniel Mariaschin:

‘One thing important to point out is that the votes have reflected administration policy.’ More specifically, in regards to Rice’s ‘no’ vote last week when the General Assembly elevated the Palestinians to non-member state status, Mariaschin exclaimed his approval. He stated, ‘There are ways of explaining your vote and ways of explaining your vote … She made kind of a good end to an otherwise disappointing day.’

In her vote explanation, Rice said, ‘Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade, and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.’

Veteran pro-Israel activist Steve Sheffey recounted Rice’s many pro-Israel accomplishments in his most recent piece for the Times of Israel. Last January, Rice said that defending Israel’s legitimacy at the UN is a “daily concern” for herself and America’s delegation. Rice’s work at the United Nations earned her the National Service Award from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in December 2011.  

Christian Leaders Call For Unfair Probe Into Israel

— by Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned by a letter sent to Congress by 15 leaders of various Christian denominations calling for an investigation of Israel’s use of U.S. aid. In the letter they claim “widespread Israeli human rights violations” which would result in breaches of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.

These acts both prohibit aid to countries that display a consistent pattern of human rights violations. B’nai B’rith takes exception to the accusations of human rights violations as they are unfounded, inflammatory and one-sided.

More after the jump.
“B’nai B’rith is highly critical of this attempt to undermine the relationship between the United States and Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “U.S. aid is extremely important in protecting the people of Israel… Suggesting that aid is used to violate human rights only serves the purpose of demonizing the Jewish state.”

The letter puts some blame on the Palestinians, but never holds the Palestinian Authority accountable for refusing to re-enter direct negotiations with Israel, the only true path to peace.

“This letter is a thinly veiled attempt to try to harm Israel, and U.S.-Israel relations,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It unfairly singles Israel out despite the fact it is the only country in the region that embraces our shared values of democracy and freedom of religion. It also ignores the mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries that is widely supported in the United States.”

B’nai B’rith firmly believes that by calling for an investigation of Israel’s use of U.S. aid, these leaders have embraced an approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that does not promote peace and reconciliation, but rather the heightening of tensions between all parties.

B’nai B’rith Asks Apple To Remove Anti-Semitic App

B’nai B’rith International has sent a letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Timothy Cook asking for the anti-Semitic app “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to be removed from Apple’s iTunes App Store.

In the letter B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin write: “‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ a proven forgery, purports to show a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. This anti-Semitic tract has been used over the past century to incite violence against Jews.”

Apple is known for its stringent guidelines applications must meet before being approved for sale in the App Store. Apps deemed defamatory, offensive or likely to expose a targeted group to violence are normally rejected by Apple. We are appalled “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” made it through the review process, as this text is often used by Neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic Arab groups to drum up hatred toward Jews.

The letter also notes: “The distribution of ‘The Protocols’ in Arabic is meant to instill blind hatred of Jews in a part of the world were anti-Israel animus is already all-too-common. Technology can be used as a tool to better the world, but it also has the power to spread hate quickly and more widely.”

The publishing of this app condones the spreading of hateful actions that B’nai B’rith works to prevent.

Letter follows the jump.

Mr. Timothy D. Cook
Chief Executive Officer
Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Cook,

On behalf of B’nai B’rith International-the world’s oldest and best-known Jewish humanitarian, advocacy and social action organization, with members in over 50 countries-we are writing to request Apple immediately remove a mobile app version of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that is for sale on Apple’s iTunes App Store.

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a proven forgery, purports to show a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. This anti-Semitic tract has been used over the past century to incite violence against Jews. “The Protocols” continues to be popular among Neo-Nazis, and has been reprinted often in the Arab and Muslim world. We are appalled by reports that a developer has made an Arabic version of “The Protocols” into a mobile application and is selling it through the App Store.

The distribution of “The Protocols” in Arabic is meant to instill blind hatred of Jews in a part of the world where anti-Israel animus is all-too-common. Technology can be used as a tool to better the world, but it also has the power to spread hate quickly and more widely.

We recognize that Apple has guidelines for applications that must meet its approval, and that applications that are deemed defamatory, offensive or likely to expose a targeted group to violence will be rejected by Apple. We call on Apple to enforce these strict standards on the applications being offered through the App Store, and monitor to ensure this process is effective regardless of the language that the application is offered in.

Sincerely,

  • Allan J. Jacobs, President
  • Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President

Welcome Supreme Court Decision On Jerusalem Passport Case

The Supreme Court of the United States directed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on the constitutionality of a case regarding whether Americans born in Jerusalem may cite Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passport.

Ari Zivotofsky and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, parents of their Jerusalem-born son Menachem, have fought for years to convince the U.S. State Department to allow their son to designate Israel as his place of birth on his passport, citing a 2002 law passed by Congress. Though the law was signed, it was never implemented due to State Department concerns that indicating “Israel” as the birthplace of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem would amount to an official U.S. statement about Jerusalem’s status.

More after the jump.

B’nai B’rith was one of 10 major Jewish organizations to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the family. “There’s no reason why Israel cannot be named as one’s country of birth. Omitting this fact changes a fundamental part of one’s identity,” said Allan J. Jacobs, president of B’nai B’rith International. “By only allowing a child to name a city, not a country, as a birthplace, is denying that child the right to have a country of origin. It should not be up to the U.S. government to determine what cities fall within the borders of a given country.”

Today’s 8-1 decision overruled lower court decisions that had argued this case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the judiciary because the courts are not responsible for determining foreign policy. State Department policy states that passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem can only identify “Jerusalem” as their place of birth, not “Israel.”

“A passport is a document of identity, not a foreign policy manifesto,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Americans born in Israel-whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the country-have the right to acknowledge Israel as their birthplace.”

UN Concerned About Advancement of Iran’s Nuclear Program

— by Sharon Bender

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iran is actively pursuing-and is frighteningly close to creating-nuclear weapons.

The report from the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear capabilities finds that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

“This report confirms what the world has long-known-Iran is well on its way to making nuclear weapons,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Iran has made no secret of its desire to destroy Israel, and it continues unabated to destabilize the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions. The confirmation of its active nuclear weapons program is a grave development and cause for great concern around the world.”

“Iran, the world’s most active state-sponsor of global terrorism, has defied international monitors and sanctions for years. These IAEA findings provide unimpeachable evidence that Iran has evaded international monitors for too long,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.

Reactions to the Terrorist Attack in Itamar

Saturday morning in Itamar terrorists killed five members of an Israeli family, including three children, in their sleep. We collected responses from the White House, Ameinu, the Union for Reform Judaism, Agudath Israel of America, and B’nai Brith International.

Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people.  There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack and for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be held accountable.

More reactions after the jump.
Kenneth Bob, President of Ameinu:

“This act of terror can not pass silently. Nothing can justify the killing of innocents, particularly children. Israelis and Palestinians must remember their shared humanity and reject brutality and violence.”

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffe, President of the Union for Reform Judaism:

We condemn in the strongest of terms the senseless massacre of an innocent Israeli family in their sleep. The thought of a knife slaughter which included victims, ages eleven, four and three-months is sickening to us. There is no place in this world, or in the struggle for peace in the Middle East, for this sort of violence.

We pray for the three surviving children in the family, all under the age of 12, who are left without their parents and siblings. No child should ever be forced to go through what these children are undoubtedly going through and our hearts go out to them and all members of the community of Itamar.

We welcome the condemnations of the attacks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. We urge them to follow-through on their statements with actions that bring the perpetrators to justice and strongly reinforce the message that violence like this will not be tolerated by the Palestinian leadership. Further, we support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to safeguard the citizens of Israel and punish the murderers.

We call for swift justice for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, which claimed responsibility for the attack, characterizing it as a “heroic operation.” This sort of blatant disregard for the value of human life is appalling and we hope that together the Israelis and the Palestinians will work to ensure that this violence remains an isolated incident and does not escalate.

Agudath Israel of America:

Every person with a Jewish heart-in fact every person with an unsullied human heart-feels only sorrow, anguish and outrage over what befell the Fogel family in Itamar this past Shabbos night.

There comes a point when words cannot convey the depth of evil.  No phrase in any language can truly describe the depravity of people who are capable of creeping into a peaceful home in the middle of the night and stab to death an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, a baby girl three months of age and their parents.

And so we are left with only the heartbreak and tears, and the pools of innocent Jewish blood that the perpetrators of these despicable acts left behind in their evil wake.

May the world be left with something too: a better appreciation of why Israelis might be reluctant to trust the intentions of people who hate them so viscerally, and of authorities whose media and school textbooks feed demonization of “Zionists” to their violence-prone culture.

May the blood of these precious innocents be avenged soon and fully by the Av Harachamim.

B’nai B’rith International:

B’nai B’rith International condemns the brutal and horrific murders of Udi and Ruth Fogel and their children Yoav, 11; Elad, 4 and Hadas, 3 months, in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar on March 11, on the eve of Shabbat.

“An attack of this nature defies comprehension,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Acts of brutality like this make a total mockery of the peace process.”

The attack was claimed by terrorist group Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Imad Mughniyeh.

“The murder of this family was the act of inhuman and depraved individuals,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The constant stream of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hate speech and incitement condoned by the Palestinian authorities, since the Oslo Accords of 1993, breeds the kind of despicable violence that ended the lives of this family.”

B’nai B’rith International stands in solidarity with the friends and family of the Fogels, and with the Israeli people as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of the attack.

UNESCO Withdraws Sponsorship of World Philosophy Day in Iran

— Sharon Bender

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova withdrew its support from World Philosophy Day events set to take place in Tehran Nov. 21-23. UNESCO’s decision recognizes the unacceptability of Tehran as a location to celebrate peace and free exchange of ideas, given the regime’s long history of censorship, domestic repression, and hateful rhetoric toward Israel, a U.N. member state.

This change in UNESCO’s course followed implementation of new restrictions on Iranian university courses and curricula, including prohibiting the establishment of new departments teaching law, political science, and philosophy-key tenants for discussion within World Philosophy Day events.

“UNESCO has made the right choice in withdrawing support for Iran’s World Philosophy Day events,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Philosophy cannot be celebrated in an environment where free exchange of ideas is suppressed and hatred reigns.”

“Tehran does not deserve the honor of holding UNESCO-sponsored events extolling freedom and open-mindedness,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It is impossible to have a philosophical event under a cloud of repression where tolerance is absent.”

Jewish Fraternity honors B’nai Brith’s Glick and Mariaschin

— Sharon Bender

The Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) honored B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick from Huntingdon Valley, PA and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin on August 6 during the AEPi 97th Anniversary Convention.
 
Glick was initiated as an honorary member of the fraternity and Mariaschin received the Gitelson Silver Medallion, an award which honors AEPi alumni who have committed to practice Jewish community service.

In 2007, AEPi and B’nai B’rith partnered to provide community service, educational, and advocacy programming for fraternity brothers to keep active in the Jewish community after graduating college.

“I am honored to be named an honorary member of a dedicated fraternity focused on values of brotherhood, leadership, and service,” Glick said. “I value B’nai B’rith’s relationship with AEPi and believe that our joint service projects change lives for the better in the communities we serve.”

Mariaschin was a brother in the Delta Beta chapter at the University of New Hampshire.

“I am extremely proud to receive such a prestigious award that represents something I have been passionate about throughout my professional career-service to others,” Mariaschin said. “It is fitting to have this award presented in New Orleans, a place where helping others has become paramount since Hurricane Katrina struck the city.”  

Photo: B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick volunteering in New Orleans Park with the AEPi brothers.

“Partnering with 500 Jewish young men to help rebuild New Orleans’ main park is truly special,” B’nai B’rith
International President Dennis W. Glick said. “B’nai B’rith has been deeply involved in helping New Orleans for
five years. This project will have an immediate impact on the community, and will also teach valuable lessons to
the AEPi brothers about giving back.”

B’nai B’rith’s active history of sponsoring disaster relief programs in New Orleans began shortly after
Hurricane Katrina devastated the city-raising more than $1 million for the Gulf region. B’nai B’rith also
demonstrated its support of the Gulf Coast by holding its annual policy conference in New Orleans in 2006.

The New Orleans City Park project marks the end of a five-year effort to assist in rebuilding homes, houses of
worship, and other projects in states devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“This project is the culmination of a long-term commitment to helping the Gulf Coast rebuild,” B’nai B’rith
International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We hope the citizens of New Orleans
enjoy the park’s upgrades and that it becomes a great symbol of the rebuilding efforts in the region.”

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, and advocacy organization.  For 166 years, BBI has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity, and tolerance.