B'nai B'rith International

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B’nai B’rith is an international Jewish advocacy organization committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Its declared mission is to unite persons of the Jewish faith and to enhance Jewish identity through strengthening Jewish family life and the education and training of youth, broad-based services for the benefit of senior citizens, and advocacy and action on behalf of Jews throughout the world. B'nai B'rith founded the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the beginning of the 20th century and is currently the lesser known of the two when ranking prominent Jewish organizations.[1] While B'nai B'rith did not begin as a staunchly political or Zionist organization, it has since become involved with many pro-Israel individuals and organizations, having co-founded NGO Monitor with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs[2][3] and featuring staunchly political speakers in their "lecture bureau series" such as former AIPAC executive director, Neal Sher.[4]

History

According to the B’nai B’rith website:

Founded in 1843, B'nai B'rith International is universally recognized as one of the world's largest and oldest Jewish human rights, community action, and humanitarian organizations. A constant source of innovation and charity for populations around the world, B'nai B'rith has founded hospitals, orphanages, senior housing communities, disaster relief campaigns, libraries, anti-hatred programs, and countless other initiatives in the public interest. B'nai B'rith is also a tireless advocate for Israel and the Diaspora in a variety of governmental and political arenas. With more than 180,000 members and affiliates in more than 50 countries, B'nai B'rith truly spans the globe in its efforts to make Jewish communities better for all their inhabitants.[5]

Financials

For FYE 06/2009, B'nai B'rith took $24,420,357 total revenue, with $324,795 going to executive vice president of the DC branch, Daniel Mariaschin.[6]

Activities

Lobbying

B'nai B'rith International Policy Conference 2010

Held in Washington, D.C. from November 13-16, this year's focus areas included Iran, the "delegitimization" of Israel, and anti-semitism.[7]

Participants of Note

Chair: Benton Mirman, Chair, World Zionist organization/JAFI and representative, American Zionist Movement | Presenter: Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem | Howard Rothman, International Policy Conference Chair | Jorge Loeff, President, B’nai B’rith Uruguay and Paraguay | Stuart Rothenberg, Editor, The Rothenberg Political Report, | David J. Michaels, Director of United Nations Affairs and Interfaith Relations | Pamela Nadell, Ph.D., Professor of History, American University, Washington, D.C. | Jamila Wignot, Producer and Director of Triangle Fire | Steve Fraser, Ph.D., Professor of History, New York University | Steven Emerson, Executive Director Investigative Project on Terrorism | Dean Baker, Ph.D., Co-Director Center for Economic and Policy Research | Paul A. Shapiro, Director, Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum | Hannah Rosenthal, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State | Melody C. Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director, Domestic Policy Council | Denis R. McDonough, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Staff Chief of Staff | Haim Katz, Ph.D., Chair, B’nai B’rith World Center | Meron Reuben, Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations

Pressuring Media

Helen Thomas

On page 15 of their 2010 Annual Report BBI states that it was "the first organization—Jewish or general—to respond to the vile and hateful statements White House correspondent Helen Thomas made",[8] noting that a day after BBI publicly called for Thomas's dismissal from Hearst Corporation,[9] she announced her "retirement".

In quoting Thomas's statements BBI omits certain parts. BBI's quotation is as follows:

...that the Jews of Israel should “…get the hell out of Palestine…” and “go home… to Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else.”[8]

Thomas's statement in full:

Tell them to get the get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland.” [Where should they go?] “They should go home, to Poland, Germany and America.”[10]

On the ambiguity of the statement in general one blogger notes:

Not surprisingly, the part about the occupation gets buried in the brouhaha. My reading was that because she said Palestine she referred to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) — including East Jerusalem — and in that case the illegal settlers, for many of us, should indeed move back to Russia, Poland, Israel ‘proper’ (internationally recognized 1967 borders) and the US. Part of the problem is the ambiguity: was she referring to Palestine as the whole of Israel? She might have but I doubt hers was the maximalist position. Even those who still advocate a two state solution as tenable should give her the benefit of the doubt unless she indicates otherwise.[11]

Thomas later apologized on her website:

I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.[12]

While many have conceded that parts of Thomas's are inflammatory and the mainstream media's response was by far condemnatory (both White House press secretaries also publicly condemned her),[13] there was also consent that the reaction to Thomas's words was part of a long-time campaign to get the non-conformist Thomas out for good. Writes Canadian-American media veteran Paul Jay:

At any rate, we all know what's going on here. The hyper-pro-Israel lobby, in both parties, hasn't much liked the fact that Helen Thomas dares to speak up and question that most sacred of topics, and right from the front row of the White House Press Gallery. Heck, she had the gall to ask President Obama about Israel's "secret" nuclear weapons. She even asked the current White House spokesman why the US had not condemned the Israeli attacks on the aid flotilla. No wonder they want her the hell out.[10]

Thomas also receieved some support from prominent Jews, including Medea Benjamin,[14] co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink, who stated on camera that she has known Thomas for years and has "admired" her for probing of White House officials about foreign policy and civil liberties. States Benjamin:

We should look at the 50+ year record of a very probing journalist and insightful commentator and not look at a 30 second soundbite. That should not be the way Helen Thomas is remembered, and as a Jew, I know from many, many dealings with Helen Thomas, she is not anti-semitic, she is not anti-Israel, she is pro human rights for all, both Israeli Jews and Palestinians.[14]

Canada Palestine Film Festival

In October 2005 B'nai B'rith publicly campaigned against the 2nd annual Canada Palestine Film Festival,[15] which was organized by a group of Canadian Jews as well as other ethnicities, on the grounds that it was "about propaganda not art."[16] In response CanPalNet-Winnipeg member Paul Burrows wrote an article responding to claims made by B'nai B'rith Canada and their legal counsel David Matas by noting that it is incorrect to conflate resistance with terrorism and that the festival did not include any films promoting armed resistance in any case. Further, Burrows notes that Matas's claim that "the very title of this year's festival, 'Occupation Will Still Be Televised,' denotes an attitude that is a priori prejudicial and harmful to Israel, and blatantly misrepresents the facts on the ground"[16] implies that "defending the State of Israel — regardless of its behaviour — can be "objective" and "artistic," whereas criticizing Israel's actual human rights record, or portraying Palestinians as human beings with legitimate claims to self-determination, is by definition "propaganda," or worse: anti-Semitism."[17] Burrows responds by stating that

CanPalNet-Winnipeg rejects such simple-minded claims to "objectivity," as well as chauvinistic double-standards which suggest that Jews and Israelis alone can express "artistic" views and sensibilities in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict; Palestinians apparently cannot.[17]

He also notes that the festival includes films made by Israelis and Palestinians and

Palestinians are no less entitled to cultural, artistic, aesthetic, cinematic, and yes, political expression than any other people on the planet. Apparently, there are people and organizations who think otherwise, and who believe that any and all criticism of the State of Israel is either "anti-Semitic" or a defence of terrorism. This is complete and utter rubbish.[17]

Sponsorship

Hillel International

BBI officially sponsored Hillel International from 1924-1994[18] and has been credited with being partly responsible for the prominence Hillel International enjoys today:

During 70 years of B’nai B’rith sponsorship, Hillel grew from a single group founded at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1923 to a global campus organization. Hillel separated from B’nai B’rith in 1994. Today Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization, serving over 500 campuses around the world.[18]

People

2010 Leadership

Accessed December 2010: [19]

2009 Leadership

Accessed January 2009: [20]

Past leaders

Visiting Speakers

Accessed December 2007: [21]

Affiliations

Centers

According to its website:

The work of B'nai B'rith International is focused in its centers. These centers provide the framework for intensive study of issues and thoughtful responses through the combined efforts of dedicated volunteer leaders and professional staff.[22]

Around the world

B'nai B'rith Argentina | B'nai B'rith Brazil | B'nai B'rith Canada | B'nai B'rith Chile, Bolivia and Peru | B'nai B'rith Europe | B'nai B'rith South Africa | B'nai B'rith UK | B’nai B’rith London Bureau of International Affairs

Groups funded or supported by BBI

Individuals

Contact

Web: http://www.bnaibrith.org
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/bnaibrith
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bnai-Brith-International/8016549779?ref=ts
Linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/companies/b'nai-b'rith-international

Address:

2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-857-6600
Toll-free Phone: (888) 388-4224

Resources and articles

Related articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, "The Changing Role of B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 1993
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gerald M. Steinberg, "MONITORING THE POLITICAL ROLE OF NGOs", Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1 June 2003, accessed on 13 December 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 JCPA, "About", Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, accessed on 13 December 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 BBI, "Neal Sher", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 13 December 2010 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "bbi" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "bbi" defined multiple times with different content
  5. The History of B'nai B'rith, B'nai B'rith International, accessed December 7, 2007.
  6. Charity Navigator, "B'nai B'rith International", Charity Navigator, accessed on 10 December 2010
  7. BBI, "Policy Conference", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 10 December 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 BBI, "2010 Annual Report", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 15 December 2010 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "BBI2010" defined multiple times with different content
  9. BBI, "Helen Thomas Should Be Dismissed From Hearst For Outrageous Comments On Israel ", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 15 December 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 Paul Jay, "IN DEFENSE OF HELEN THOMAS - On apologizing to apologists", Canada.com, 7 June 2010
  11. Anne El Khoury, ["Thank you for your service, Helen Thomas "http://pulsemedia.org/2010/06/08/thank-you-for-your-service-helen-thomas/], PULSE Media, 8 June 2010
  12. Helen Thomas, "Helen Thomas", HelenThomas.org, accessed on 15 December 2010
  13. Julie Weiner, "White House Correspondent Helen Thomas Retires Following Anti-Israel Statements", Vanity Fair, 7 June 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 YouTube, "Jews for Helen Thomas", YouTube, 8 June 2010
  15. CPFF, "Canada Palestine Film Festival", Canada Palestine Film Festival, accessed on 11 December 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 BBI Canada, "Canada-Palestine Film Festival about propaganda not art, says B’nai Brith Canada", B'nai B'rith Canada, 28 September 2005, accessed on 11 December 2010
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Paul Burrows, "B'Nai Brith Attacks the Canada Palestine Film Festival...Again!", Electronic Intifada, 2 October 2005
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Hillel and B’nai B’rith Celebrate 85 Years on Campus", Hillel, 8 September 2008, accessed on 15 December 2010
  19. BBI, "Leadership", B'nai B'rith International, accessed 15 December 2010
  20. BBI, Leadership "Leadership", B'nai B'rith International, accessed 31 January 2009.
  21. The B'nai B'rith Lecture Bureau, B'nai B'rith International, accessed December 7, 2007.
  22. B'nai B'rith, "About", B'nai B'rith International, accessed 31 January 2009
  23. Tom Mills and David Miller, 'Réalité-EU: Front group for the Washington-based Israel Project?, Spinwatch, 30 October 2009.
  24. BBI, "Elie Wiesel", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 11 December 2010
  25. BBI, "David Horovitz", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 11 December 2010
  26. BBI, "Dennis Prager", B'nai B'rith International, accessed on 11 December 2010
  27. CUFI, "John Hagee", Christians United for Israel, accessed on 11 December 2010
  28. BBIC, "Evangelical support for Israel and the Canadian Jewish Community", B'nai B'rith Canada, 28 October 2008, accessed on 11 December 2010
  29. Harper to be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, B'nai Brith Canada, 29 August 2014, accessed 2 September 2014