On behalf of B’nai B’rith UK and its advocacy arm, the London Bureau, we would like to express our deepest sadness following yesterday’s terror attack in Halle. We are particularly shocked that this foul act was committed on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Our thoughts are with the families of the two murdered victims and the many others who suffered injury. Once again, we are reminded of the need for vigilance in the face of unrelenting hatred and we will continue to fight the scourge of antisemitism and racism.
Terror attack in Halle
B'nai B'rith London Bureau of International Affairs (BBLBIA)
BBLBIA was founded by B’nai B’rith UK in March 1998 as an associate office of B’nai B’rith International’s Centre for Human Rights and Public Policy in Washington DC.
The mission of BBLBIA is to serve and protect the interests, welfare and security of Jewish people, the State of Israel and to uphold the human rights of minority peoples globally. It was set up to address the need for a pro-active, strategic European organisation to engage with the diplomatic community on behalf of the Jewish people. By focusing on decision-makers and influencers, its objective is to be a positive influence on policy developments affecting the State of Israel and Jewish interests generally.
Why was BBLBIA Established?
There is clear and increasing evidence of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias within the international community. This prejudice takes many forms including a clear attempt to isolate Israel politically within the United Nations. This prejudice is in many cases born out of a lack of understanding of the issues involved and a lack of awareness of what is really going on in the Middle East.
International diplomacy is of vital importance in establishing the rights of the Jewish people and the preservation of the State of Israel. London is a pivotal centre for international diplomacy and is a strategic centre in relations between the USA, Europe and the Middle East.
How BBLBIA Operates
BBLBIA has established and maintained regular contacts with London-based diplomatic missions, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development. It is in close contact with the Embassy of Israel enabling it to maintain a regular two-way dialogue. Through these meetings, we promote greater security for Jewish communities world-wide and help cultivate support for Israel’s unique circumstances and for its aspirations for peace and security.
BBLBIA draws on the information resources of B’nai B’rith around the world. The influence of B’nai B’rith International, with offices in Washington DC, at the United Nations in New York and in Brussels, and with membership in 59 countries is unmatched by any other Jewish organization.
BBLBIA is ideally placed to speak to representatives and officials who might not wish to speak to a diplomat from the Israel Embassy. As a result, BBLBIA can dispassionately explain Israel’s position to opinion leaders and decision-makers
The BB London Bureau’s Progress & Achievements
The Bureau has established an enviable credibility within the UK and foreign diplomatic community in London, proactively providing objective information and correcting misconceptions on matters affecting Israel and the wider Jewish community.
Meetings are held with the FCO. LBIA also joins with the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) in further round table talks with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. It is accepted that all such meetings are ‘closed’.
The Bureau’s work is unique and is not replicated by any other organisation. The value of our activities has been commended both by community leaders and the Embassy of Israel.
The BBUK London Bureau of International Affairs Summary for 2018
BBUK’s Bureau of International Affairs has been active throughout 2018, a year that has seen continuing antisemitism around the world. Nationalists in Poland have sought to downplay their country’s complicity in the Holocaust while fascists have marched to glorify wartime leaders. An attack in Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 Jews dead in one of the most shocking incidents of violence seen in years. At the UN, the usual orchestrated campaign against Israel has been in full flow while the Jewish state has received negative coverage for its handling of the Hamas orchestrated violence from Gaza.
The Bureau has met dozens of ambassadors and senior diplomats from European, African, Asian and Latin American countries. It was represented in the first of three sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and at the roundtable discussions held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In addition, the Bureau met with senior politicians from all of the UK’s main parties and some NGOs based in London.
During its meetings, Bureau members raised concerns about anti-Israel bias and provided evidence to show why much of the coverage of the Middle East was deeply misguided. Many of these misconceptions focused on the reasons for the breakdown in the peace process, the Jerusalem embassy move, the legality of settlements and the role of the Palestinian Authority in destroying the chances for peace. The Bureau also joined other organisations in criticising Poland’s Holocaust law which proposed to criminalise suggestions that the Polish nation or state were responsible or complicit in Nazi crimes. Following these representations, the Polish government backtracked to make it a civil offence.
The Bureau conducted research on the fate of religious minorities in the Middle East. It surveyed the extreme depths of violence and discrimination that many faith groups were subjected to, among them the Bah’ai, the Copts, the Assyrians and the Ahmadis. It called for recognition of their suffering and for western countries to speak out in their defence. Bureau Director, Jeremy Havardi, also wrote many articles and letters in British papers on antisemitism and Middle East politics.