Anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel are on the rise in the US and
throughout the world and must be countered swiftly, according to B’nai B’rith
International President Allan J. Jacobs.
Speaking to The Jerusalem
ahead of B’nai B’rith World Center’s journalism award ceremony in Jerusalem
on Sunday evening, Jacobs said Jewish organizations in the Diaspora must fight
every anti-Jewish or anti-Israel manifestation, including in the
“I think it’s sometimes very difficult to separate what is anti-Semitism and what is delegitimization of Israel,” he said. “But I think Jewish
organizations should speak up, and not turn the other cheek, whenever there is
any kind of incident.
“We have a responsibility as an organization and
individuals to be in touch with legislators, if there is anything they can do,
or the government or police, if there are anti-Semitic activities. I have never
believed in turning the other cheek, because it doesn’t go away.”
blamed the downturn in the global economy for rising
“Whenever there’s bad economic times, for some reason
people seem to think that the Jews are to blame, and so that’s when
anti-Semitism comes forth.
In the last few years, we’ve seen some
increase in anti-Semitism in the United States and other countries like Germany,
France and the United Kingdom as a result of difficult times,” he
Asked what B’nai B’rith is doing to combat anti-Semitism, Jacobs
said: “One of the big things that we do is our representation at the United
Nations, particularly when the UN is in session. We have a considerable number
of meetings with ambassadors of other countries to try to promote our position
against this delegitimization, the same way we did in Geneva in March, where we
met at the Human Rights Council in a matter of over four or five days with over
“I experienced one of those sessions, in which the
ambassadors actually listened. I was sitting there with this ambassador and he
said to me at the beginning, ‘I’ve got another meeting,’ and about half way
through he picks up his cellphone and calls his deputy to go to the meeting,
because he says, ‘It’s important that we meet with B’nai B’rith here.’ “Are we
making an impact? We think we are.”
Jacobs said that while B’nai B’rith’s
fund-raising is not significantly down due to the economic situation, the
organization is undergoing fundamental reforms.
“If you make your cause
available and sell yourself, you can still raise the money. The money is still
there to be had,” he said.
“But the organization is changing.
are still involved in three basic areas. One is human rights and public policy,
which is probably our foremost activity. The second area, particularly in the
United States, is both housing and senior advocacy. And the third area is
“People remember B’nai B’rith as this fraternal
organization from way back, with lodges all over the place, but that is changing
because the dynamics of life today are not the same. We’re moving ahead, and
we’re trying to bring more young people into leadership roles, and I think we’ll
be successful in that.”
Jacobs said B’nai Brith’s granting of its annual
journalism award was one way in which it showed “it’s not just an old fraternal
organization, and we’re reaching out to people who are doing good and important
things in life.”
“The idea is to honor someone who is doing something
important in what happens to be the journalistic area,” he said.
are important. If it wasn’t for the media telling the story, how would people
know what’s going on in the world?” He said he did not consider the American
media “particularly anti-Israel.”
“There are some, but we’re in an
election period right now, so a lot of what’s being said is for election
purposes. Both parties are trying to get what they call ‘the Jewish vote.’” The
guest lecture at Sunday’s B’nai B’rith journalist award ceremony will be former
US under secretary of state Stuart E. Eizenstat.
The top award
“recognizing excellence in Diaspora reportage” will be given to Channel 2’s Lee
Abramovich for her television report on American Orthodox Jews donating kidneys
to Israelis for transplants.
Foreign correspondent citations will be
awarded to Jana Beris of the Uruguayan Jewish weekly Semanario Hebreo for her
interview with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, and to the Associated
Press’s Diaa Hadid for her report on the Jewish community in Tripoli.