New publication examines Anti-Defamation League

The following is an excerpt from the news publicatio, “The Anti-Defamation League: Protector of civil rights or silencer of free speech?” from the  American Muslims for Palestine:

In March 2011, under pressure from Israeli authorities, Facebook shut down a page created by Palestinian students calling for a march of Palestinian refugees to demand their rights to return to their homeland. The Anti-Defamation League wasted no time in taking credit for the social network’s action, issuing a statement that it “is continuing to monitor Facebook for other problematic cause pages and continues to be in touch with Facebook officials on the issue.”

 That’s no surprise. The ADL has grown from an organization founded nearly 100 years ago to fight anti- Semitism to a powerhouse intent on stifling any discourse critical of Israeli policies stemming from its occupation of Palestine. In fact, some, like New York Rabbi Shea Hecht, argue the ADL – a $60-million-per-year organization – manufactures charges of anti-Semitism where none exists in order to justify its existence.

 New Anti-Semitism

Particularly troubling is the ADL’s use of the term “New Anti-Semitism,” which equates even the questioning of Israeli policy to hatred for all Jews. Throughout the years, ADL leadership have been all too willing to attack and discredit those who support Palestinian self-determination or who criticize Israeli policies. Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism was apparent in Arnold Forster’s and Benjamin Epstein’s 1974 book, “The New Anti-Semitism,” and in the 1982 book, “Real Anti-Semitism in America,” by Nathan Pearlman and his wife Ruth. Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s current director seems obsessively preoccupied with anti-Semitism.

 Throughout the argument for New Anti-Semitism is the idea that “Israel’s interests – understood implicitly as the interests of a rejectionist Greater Israel that denies Palestinian rights – are the ‘Jewish interests,’ so that anyone who recognizes Palestinian rights or in other ways advocates policies that threaten ‘Israel’s interests’ as the authors conceive them is … ‘objectively’ anti-Semitic,” Professor Chomsky writes in his book “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and The Palestinians.”

 It was this concept of anti-Semitism that so troubled an Israeli filmmaker, he produced a documentary on the topic.

 “Being an Israeli Jew, I’ve never experienced anti-Semitism itself, but it’s a phrase that always seems to be in the air,” Yoav Shamir says at the onset of “Defamation.” “Three words seem to appear over and over again: Holocaust, Nazi and anti-Semitism. Living in a country that was founded to give the Jewish people a safe place to live in, I found this really disturbing so I decided I wanted to learn more about this subject. … I wanted to find out how the ADL actively fights anti-Semitism.”

The next scene takes place in the ADL’s New York headquarters, where Regional Director Bob Wolfson tries to define anti-Semitism for Shamir. On a large easel he draws a triangle and divides it horizontally into three sections. Pointing at the base, he said, “It starts with an insult, or a denigrating statement,” and then drawing a large circle at the pinnacle he continues, “At the very top what you have is genocide. And everything in between is every bad thing that can happen to somebody.”

 Shamir inquires about the 1,500 incidents of anti-Semitism per year the ADL says it investigates. New York Director Joel Levi asks an employee to recount all the reports of anti-Semitism the office received over a two-week period. The clerk finds three complaints from people who were denied time off work for a religious holiday, one call about a purported anti-Semitic website and one about a newspaper article that had “anti- Semitic undertones.”

Levi shrugs his shoulders. “Five in two weeks,” he said. “It’s impossible to predict.”

 The ADL would need to investigate about 28.8 cases per week to reach 1,500 cases in a year.

 The ADL is an enormous organization with annual revenue of $55.7 million, according to its 2009 IRS 990 tax form, the last year for which reliable data is publicly available. It has a staff of 473 in 28 offices nationwide. Included on the tax form is its mission, summed up as “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”

 If the ADL is tasked with stopping the ‘defamation’ of the Jewish people and to secure justice for all, one has to wonder then, why it works to train thousands of law enforcement officers around the country every year; why it sends newsletters to more than 40,000 of them; why its national director Foxman — who survived the Holocaust by being given protection by a Christian family — spends so much time in Israel and meeting with heads of state around the world; and why the organization spends so much time lobbying Congress on everything from legislation to judicial appointments, and why Foxman spends so much time smearing with McCarthy-like precision anyone advocating for Palestinian rights.

The ADL did not return AMP’s repeated requests for comments.

To dowload the booklet, click here.


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