Jewish Federations, Agency Provide Assist Burgas Victims

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror will provide financial assistance to Israelis wounded in the attack in Bulgaria and to the families of those killed.  The assistance, made possible by a contribution from The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is meant to help those affected by the attack address supplemental needs not covered by Israeli government bodies.  Any family that experienced the loss or injury of a loved one in the attack may request assistance from the fund.

Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said that the assistance provided by The Jewish Federations of North America demonstrates the solidarity of Jews around the world with the terrible pain of those Israelis wounded in the attack and with the deep mourning of the families of those killed.

The Jewish Agency‘s Fund for the Victims of Terror, established in 2002, provides financial assistance to victims of terror in Israel.  Since its establishment, the fund-which is sustained by contributions from Jewish federations, philanthropic foundations, and donors around the world-has enabled The Jewish Agency to provide thousands of terror victims and their families with assistance at a scope of more than NIS 100 million.

Response from World Jewish Congress, Isareli Consulate, B’nai Brith, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Shelley Berkley, Howard Berman, Jan Schakowsky, Sherrod Brown, Jerrold Nadler, Ted Deutsch, Eliot Engel, Alcee Hastings, Charles Rangel and Joe Crowley follow the jump.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

I was deeply saddened and angered to learn of today’s terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria…. The United States stands ready to offer any assistance necessary, and we will work with our partners in Bulgaria, Israel and elsewhere so that the perpetrators can be apprehended swiftly and brought to justice for this appalling crime.

President Barack Obama

I strongly condemn today’s barbaric terrorist attack on Israelis in Bulgaria. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured, and with the people of Israel … As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.

World Jewish Congress:

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder has condemned the murderous terror attack in which six Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed when one of three buses carrying mostly Israeli men, women and children was blown up outside the airport of Burgas, Bulgaria.

“It is no coincidence that this assault comes 18 years to the day since the Iranian regime sponsored attack against the AMIA  Jewish community center in Buenos Aires took the lives of 85 innocent victims”, Lauder said. The current Iranian Defense Minister, Ahmed Vahidi, was indicted by Argentinianauthorities, and is currently sought by Interpol.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments regarding the Iranian regime’s involvement in this deadly attack reminds the world of the role Iran, and the terrorist groups it supports, play in global terrorism,” Lauder said.

The World Jewish Congress also salutes Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner for immediately dispatching a private plane with doctors and medical supplies to Burgas to treat the victims of this murderous assault.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice:

We extend our condolences to the families of the victims of this heinous act and stand with the people of Israel & Bulgaria.

The terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria today is outrageous, an act of supreme cowardice.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Our thoughts and prayers rest with the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured in today’s terrorist attack.

Whether within Israel’s borders or around the world, attacks against innocent Israeli men, women, and children are reprehensible and outrageous. All Members of Congress and the American people must stand together to condemn this bombing in the strongest terms possible.

Falling 18 years after the bombing against the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, today’s attack is a clear reminder that we must redouble our efforts to bring terrorists to justice; we must maintain and strengthen our commitment to the security of the Jewish state; and we will always stand firm on side of the safety of the Israeli people.

B’nai B’rith International:

B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible the July 18 terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Early reports indicate at least five Israelis have been killed and almost 30 people have been rushed to the hospital, some in critical condition. The situation is still unfolding.

The bombing occurred on a tour bus near the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, a Bulgarian city on the Black Sea. While it is unclear who the perpetrators are, Israeli leaders are suggesting Iran and Hezbollah may be behind the attacks.

B’nai B’rith urges Bulgarian and international agencies to work together to determine who was responsible for this attack that targeted Israelis.  

The attack occurred on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded 300.

This attack on Israelis, coming on the AMIA anniversary, is a chilling reminder that anti-Israel sentiment is alive and well worldwide. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer:

Today’s attack is a tragic reminder of the threat of terrorism Israelis face at home and abroad.  Those who planned, carried out, and sponsored this attack will surely be identified and face justice for their actions and involvement.

The murder of innocent tourists is a shameful act of cowardice that should give all Americans pause.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families, with Israelis and Bulgarians wounded in today’s attack, and with those in Jewish communities throughout the world for whom it has brought a terrible moment of uncertainty and heightened vigilance.  Let there be no uncertainty, though, that the people of the United States stand side-by-side with the people of Israel in their quest for security and the peace all nations deserve.

Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz :

I am saddened and outraged by this horrific and brutal attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. On this 18th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, today’s tragic and senseless attack serves as a constant reminder of the deplorable violence and anti-Semitism that still exists in our world. The United States stands strong with our ally Israel in condemning this atrocity and supporting the unshakable U.S.-Israel relationship. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Israel and Bulgaria, and the families of the victims of today’s unforgivable attack.

Representative Shelley Berkley:

Our hearts are with the families of those killed in the horrific Bulgarian bus bombing and our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery are with those injured in this terrorist attack.  Those responsible for this bloodshed and for targeting innocent Israeli tourists in a brutal massacre cannot go unpunished and they must be brought to justice.  No justification ever exists for bombing a bus loaded with innocent men, women and children, and we are once again reminded of the dangers that Israelis face on a daily basis both at home and when traveling abroad.  Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with our special ally Israel at this time of mourning and we share the grief that has been unleashed by this latest terrorist tragedy.

Representative Howard Berman:

I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack against innocent Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and their loved ones.

Representative Jan Schakowsky:

I am deeply saddened by today’s despicable terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that killed and injured innocent men, women, and children. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of those who were senselessly massacred.

These anti-Semitic, anti-Israel attacks anywhere in the world must be strongly condemned. The President has said that the United States has an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and I expect a robust effort to find out who is responsible for this act of terrorism.

Senator Sherrod Brown:

With the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Massacre on the horizon, we are once again reminded that Israel and her allies are still targets of worldwide terrorism. The Israeli victims of this vicious terrorist attack in Burgas,  Bulgaria will not be forgotten and I stand with our allies who want to see the perpetrators brought to justice. Terrorism, in any form, cannot be allowed to stand. I am fully committed to supporting Israel’s right to defend herself. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.

May peace and solace find them in their time of grief.

Representative Jerrold Nadler:

Disgusted by the cowardly attack on Israelis in ‪#Bulgaria. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and the Israeli people.

Representative Ted Deutch:

The terrorist attack against innocent Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was horrific. We mourn the loss of life & stand w Israel in solidarity.

Representative Eliot Engel:

The United States and the rest of the civilized world must stand with the Israel against terrorism. Until terrorism ceases against Israeli citizens there will not be peace in the Middle East.   The violence must stop, and must stop now.  I find it more than coincidental that on the 18th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, an Israeli target was attacked, this time in Europe.   We must stand up to the terrorists, wherever and whenever they strike.  The United States should provide whatever assistance Bulgaria requires to bring the perpetrators to justice. Should Iran or another nation be found responsible, it must be held accountable.

Let us keep all these victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Representative Alcee Hastings:

I was deeply saddened to learn of today’s unconscionable attack on Israeli and Bulgarian tourists.  This kind of senseless violence is an act of cowardice and hatred.  It is yet another unnecessary reminder of the threats Israelis face both at home and abroad.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims during this most difficult time.  I stand with my friends in Israel and the Jewish community in praying for peace around the world.  This tragic event reminds us all that there are still people who choose hate and intolerance over understanding and compassion. We must continue to stand side-by-side with Israel as it pursues a safe and secure future, and we must work together across all racial, religious, gender, and cultural lines and not allow these senseless acts to continue.”

Representative Charles Rangel:

These attacks against innocent people are horrifying and reprehensible. Such violence targeting people for their ethnicity, nationality or religion has absolutely no place in our world.  I join my Colleagues in Congress and the American people in condemning such acts of terrorism.

Today’s horrendous attack reminds us that our Jewish friends are not any safer than they were 18 years ago, when the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires was bombed. The Israeli people still live under real threat every day. The United States will stand strongly with our Allies to protect the security of the Israeli people.

My thoughts and prayers are with today’s victims and their families and friends. May those who are injured recover soon and the families and friends of the deceased find peace.

Representative Joe Crowley:

I am deeply saddened and troubled by the heinous attack against innocent civilians, including children, in Bulgaria today. There is absolutely no place in any society for this type of cowardly act. Today’s tragedy serves as a painful reminder of the fact that Israel and her people remain under a constant threat of violence. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and those injured as a result of this senseless attack.

Colombia will not recognize a unilateral Palestinian state, Santos assures Jewish leaders

— Dan Diker and Michael Thaidigsmann, WJC

Editor: Colombia is a bright spot in a continent with a sordid history of anti-Semitism. Many Nazis found refuge in South America after World War II. Now, all of the independent countries in South America except Colombia have recognized the Palestinian Authority as an independent state contrary to the Oslo Accords and in fact Argentina has offered suspend inquiries into attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association in 1994 in exchange for better trade relations. Fortunately, Colombia has taken a firm stand in support of Israel.

Paraguay 2005-03-25
Venezuela 2009-04-27
Brazil 2010-12-01
Argentina 2010-12-04
Bolivia 2010-12-22
Ecuador 2010-12-24
Chile 2011-01-07
Guyana 2011-01-13
Peru 2011-01-24
Suriname 2011-02-01
Uruguay 2011-03-15

A high-level delegation of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and its Latin American branch, led by WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, today met with the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. The leaders thanked Santos for his support to the Jewish community and the State of Israel. Lauder told the Colombian president: “We value your friendship and courage for Israel and the Jewish people. We also appreciate that you have withstood pressure from fellow Latin American leaders to prematurely recognize a Palestinian state.” Santos assured the Jewish leaders that his government would stand firm on this issue. He said that as a matter of principle Colombia would not follow other governments in the region which had recently recognized a yet-to-be-established unilaterally declared Palestinian state. He emphasized that the only path to peace in the Middle East was through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

World Jewish Congress Secretary-General Designate Dan Diker expressed gratitude for Colombia’s strong stance on this issue and said that “a return to the borders prior to 1967 would intensify the current instability across the Middle East region while posing a security threat to Israel by radical Islamists that also has ramifications for the wider world, including Latin America”.

During the meeting, the Colombian leader spoke warmly of his admiration for the Jewish people and for Israel’s achievement in the fields of high tech, specifically biotechnology and information technology. WJC President Lauder extended an invitation to the Colombian leader to give the keynote address at the meeting of the World Jewish Congress Governing Board in Jerusalem this coming June.

Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins expressed appreciation for Bogotá’s commitment in fighting the growing influence of the Iranian regime on the continent. “In Colombia, you know what horrible suffering terrorism inflicts on people. After the two deadly bomb attacks against the AMIA Center and the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in the 1990s that were orchestrated by Iran we Jews know that extremists must be vigorously opposed. We hope that a consensus can be reached among political leaders here that currently, Tehran cannot be a partner for closer political or economic cooperation in any shape or form.”

Also present at the meeting at the presidential palace Casa de Nariño in Bogotá was the chairman of the WJC Governing Board, Eduardo Elsztain, who praised Santos as a man of truth and principle. The meeting also included senior representatives of the Colombian Jewish community.

UNESCO Vote on Rachel’s Tomb and Cave of Patriarchs

— Betty Ehrenberg

On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder wrote a letter to Director General Irina Bokova of  the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations expressing deep dismay at the recent passage of the resolution that designated Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian, with Rachel’s Tomb named a mosque. In the letter, Lauder said

“For UNESCO to try and remove these two ancient Jewish sites from Israel is an outrage. For thousands of years, Biblical tradition has upheld that the Tomb of Rachel was acquired and built by Jacob the Patriarch of Israel, and has been among the most sacred sites of Judaism since. The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron has for an even longer period of time been part of the heart and soul of Israel. One has only to reference the biblical portion read just this past week in synagogues world wide that describes the purchase by Abraham the Patriarch of the Cave of the Patriarchs and the surrounding area of Hebron… To deem these historic sites that have been an integral part of the Jewish heritage for thousands of years is a denial of factual history.”

More after the jump.
The World Jewish Congress believes that politicizing and falsifying the origins of important Jewish religious and historic sites where Jews have prayed for millennia   contravene the important role of UNESCO which was established to preserve and guard sacred heritage sites around the world. To deny the Jewish people the Biblical legacies of Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs is to deny history.

It is to Israel’s credit that under its administration, people of all faiths continue to have free access to their holy sites and we value Israel’s repeated assurances that this will remain so. World Jewish Congress welcomes the rejection of this resolution by the United States, and will continue to work against the misuse of United Nations bodies in the unfair and biased treatment of Israel.

WJC Condemns UN Report on Flotilla

— Betty Ehrenberg

Today’s debate in the United Nations Human Rights Council, following the publication of a profoundly unbalanced and critical report on the Israel’s defensive raid on the May 31 Turkish flotilla, once again reveals the underlying bias against Israel through its distortion and perversion of the facts.  
Chairman of the International Independent Fact Finding Mission, Judge Karl Hudson-Phillips, said that the deaths of the so-called activists on the boat Mavi Marmara were a result of “serious violations of both humanitarian and human rights law”, that “passengers were assaulted by being kicked and gunbutted”, and that the conduct of the Israel military “was disproportionate and excessive and that they demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary violence”.

Despite the submission to the Mission of evidence of the clearly violent intentions of the IHH terrorists who were on the Mavi Marmara, the report ignored the fact that the Israelis were attacked by a violent group that had articulated its will to become “martyrs”, with the intent to commit suicide in order to kill the Israelis.

Insult was added to injury by the Palestinian representative who said that “the offensive character of Israel made it kill those innocent civilians”, and the Turkish ambassador’s shameful utterance that “I couldn’t help asking myself whether Israel has a heart in its chest or a stone.”

Israel rightly refused to partake in this so-called investigation, correcting identifying it for what it was at the outset — a prejudiced charade that would only repeat what has become the expected, hypocritical libel and blame of Israel by the UNHRC.

“The World Jewish Congress sadly again deplores these biased proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. “We note that it has lost its moral compass, where terrorism is deemed activism, and self-defense is called disproportionate violence. If the UNHRC wants to regain the integrity of its original purpose, it cannot submit to being manipulated into justifying and covering up terrorism,” said Lauder.