Brussels, October 19, 2007
On Thursday B’nai B’rith International’s European Union Affairs Office, officially opened its doors in Brussels. The new office will represent the rights and interests of the global Jewish community.
Also, it will play a vital and indispensable role in BBI’s global mission.
Jana Hybaskova, member of the European Parliament and chairwoman of the Delegation for Relations with Israel at the European Parliament co-hosted the event, along with Member of European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. Board members William Bram of New York, and Bruce Pascal of Washington D.C also took part in the launch which was chaired by EVP Dan Mariaschin.
Hybaskova enthusiastically welcomed BBI to Brussels and said she is looking forward to working with the organization. She told the luncheon crowd of more than 160 guests that BBI’s global achievements are exemplary, and noted that she needs partners like BBI to support her work.
C. Boyden Gray, U.S. ambassador to the EU, also addressed the group and offered his congratulations to BBI on its new office and its longstanding achievements in global affairs. Isaac Herzog, the Israeli minister for social welfare, and Diaspora and the fight against antisemitism, served as the luncheon keynote speaker and praised BBI as an important international contributor. And Israeli Ambassador to the European Union Ran Curiel said he was pleased to have BBI in Brussels.
European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner was in Lisbon, Portugal for the European Council Summit, but sent a warm letter of congratulations in which she wrote: “B’nai B’rith’s active work here in Brussels, the capital of Europe, reflects the deep political, economic and cultural ties that the European Union has with the global Jewish Community and the State of Israel.” The letter concluded: “I am sure that B’nai B’rith’s increased presence in Brussels will be a strong platform to continue its important work. It will also be a place to meet and exchange ideas, and will serve as a beacon for Europe’s rich and lively Jewish heritage, to which we owe so much. Thank you for your contribution. And thank you for making a daily reality of the European Union’s motto: ‘United in Diversity.’”
A wide range of ambassadors, members of European Parliament, and other dignitaries made the launch of the new office truly groundbreaking. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ukraine Andriy Veselovskiy complimented BBI and said his country and Israel have many common goals and should collaborate more. Ambassadors from many countries were there, as was Dr. Peter Witt, deputy permanent representative of Germany to the EU. Turkey’s ambassador to Belgium, Fuat Tanlay and Romania’s ambassador to Belgium, Ion Jinga were among the special guests. Dr. Peter R. Weilemann, director of the European Office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung was also on hand.
BBI President Moishe Smith thanked everyone for a warm welcome to Brussels and noted the wonderful potential for building partnerships that the new BBI office creates. Smith talked about BBI’s long and storied history in Europe and the great importance the organization places on this initiative. Smith mentioned some of BBI’s top agenda items such as human rights, antisemitism, and Middle East peace, and he noted the great promise for fostering strong relations between the EU and Israel.
Adam Mouchtar, Director of BBI’s EU Affairs office