With Iran posed to assume chairmanship later this month of the Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM) for the next three years, member states should significantly
downgrade their participation in that framework, Daniel Mariaschin, executive
vice president of B’nai B’rith International, has said.
As is done every
year, Mariaschin, as well as the heads of other major US Jewish organizations –
such as the Anti-Defamation league, Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations and the World Jewish Congress – will meet together with
leaders from some 40 countries attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New
York in September.
One of the main issues on the agenda of the talks,
that will include leaders from a number of NAM countries, will be the subject of
Iran’s leadership of that organization, said Mariaschin, currently on a visit to
“This is not just an issue of a five day conference,” he said,
referring to the NAM Leadership Summit scheduled for Tehran from August
“This is going to be a pro-active chairmanship that will be
anti-democratic, anti-West, anti-US and anti-Israel. My question to them will
be what they want to stand for.”
NAM member states, he said, will have to
decide whether their participation in the organization with Iran as its head
will be active or inactive, and at what level will they be
Without wanting to mention names, Mariaschin said there were
a number of NAM countries that worry about their image and which might be
willing to downgrade their participation.
Israel is campaigning through
its embassies abroad, and in direct conversations with certain leaders, for
various countries to either boycott the Tehran conference or send a lowlevel
delegation. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has publicly called upon UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon not to go to the meeting next week. Ban has not
yet said publicly whether he will attend.
Mariaschin’s organization as
well as other US Jewish groups have sent letters to Ban urging him not to go to
Tehran. Mariaschin said he hoped Ban’s clear statement over the weekend against
the anti-Israel bashing of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme
Leader Ali Khamenei was a prelude to a decision not to attend the conference,
and to send a lesser official in his stead.
According to Mariaschin, the
US Jewish organizations are able to line up these meetings with presidents and
prime ministers on the sidelines of the UN meeting because these leaders believe
that on the NGO side, “a meeting with representatives of American Jewish
organizations is something that perhaps gives them some sort of
In other words, he clarified, it can help in their bilateral
relations with the US.
With other countries – such as France, Russia and
Germany – he said a long-standing relationship with the US Jewish organizations
exists on a number of issues, making it almost a tradition for these countries
to want to carve out an hour to meet the Jewish groups.
In addition to
the NAM issue, other subjects to be raised at the meeting on the sidelines of
the General Assembly meeting will be the Palestinian efforts to gain observer
status at the UN as a non-member state, like the Vatican, and putting Hezbollah
on the EU’s list of terrorist groups.
While it is a clear that the
Palestinians will easily be able to win a vote in the General Assembly,
Mariaschin said efforts will be made to get those countries with influence on
the Palestinian decision-making process to try to persuade them that such a move
will “not bring peace any sooner, and – on the contrary – will only add to
Mariaschin said the group of Jewish leaders was expected to
meet a number of leaders from South America, and urge them to resist
politicizing the Summit of South American-Arab Countries scheduled for Peru in
While this meeting, the third of its kind between foreign
ministers of the Arab League and South American countries, is expected to focus
on economic issues, the concern is that its final declarations will be hijacked
to bash Israel.
“Politicizing that meeting to advance the Palestinian
side will be counterproductive to any revival of the peace process,” he
According to Mariaschin, the politicizing of those types of
gatherings “raise Palestinian expectations that the international community is
always on its side and it does not have to give anything.” It also frustrates
Israelis, he said, “leaving them with a feeling that they cannot get a break.”