The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged adl
ADL reaches new low

One of the unexpected outcomes of the Cordoba House / Park51 affair is that it has shown the true colors of many people in American life, from the predictable pandering (or is it honest bigotry?) of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and many Republicans (with the notable and honorable exception of Mayor Bloomberg) to the lamentable moral cowardice of some Democrats.

But if there's been any upside to this sorry story, it's to see the mask pulled down on Abraham Foxman and the ADL. I'm sure the ADL once played a crucial role in combating anti-Semitism in the US, and I can take at face value that, after 9/11, they joined many others in warning against blaming Muslims for the attack. But mostly, the ADL as I've known it in the last decade (I interviewed Foxman for the first time in 2000) is an outfit that spends a disproportionate amount of its energy acting as an attack dog against critics of Israel.

Just like Pamela Geller, the lead instigator of the campaign against Cordoba House, the ADL is has a maximalist vision of Israel as a state that can never be, or do, wrong. They led the attack on the Goldstone report in the US and generally act as a megaphone for the most extreme parts of the Israel lobby in the US. In doing so, the ADL has not hesitated to contribute to the association between ordinary Muslims and al-Qaeda, which is the implicit idea in its call for Cordoba House to be built elsewhere. The backlash this created forced the ADL to back down — notably after Fareed Zakariya (with whom I have related beef) to his credit condemned the decision.

But you have to wonder whether Foxman has a wider problem with Muslims. Politico's Laura Rozen reveals that Foxman tried to lobby the State Dept. not to cooperate with a visit by a group of American imams to Auschwitz:

Organizers of the trip say they were dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman lobbied U.S. officials against participating. They also say the Investigative Project’s Steve Emerson, author of "American Jihad," lobbied against the trip, arguing that one of the imams planning to participate had made Holocaust denial statements a decade ago.

Emerson was unavailable for comment and Foxman did not respond to repeated queries from POLITICO.

Since Foxman won't answer the question, ask yourself: why did he try and prevent this reaching out by a Muslim delegation to understand the Holocaust? What does he have to lose from Muslims making a conciliatory gesture towards Jews at a time when there's so much hatred between the two religions? And what is such a man doing heading an organization calling itself the Anti-Defamation League?

Finkelstein, Finkelstein, Finkelstein

I pre-ordered my copy of This Time We Went Too Far at O/R Books.

I also highly recommend watching the documentary about Finkelstein, American Radical. Finkelstein is an incredibly courageous figure, he has payed dearly for his engagement on the Palestinian cause and against those who manipulate the Holocaust for political purposes. It's really heart-wrenching to see what this principled and stubborn man has endured at the hands of powerful academics and pro-Israel activists like Alan Dershowitz, who appears to have single-handedly orchestrated the campaign to get him fired from DePaul University.

Finkelstein also appears briefly in Defamation, an Israeli film about the ADL, at his best: intense, scathing about the likes of Abe Foxman, and almost self-destructively forthright. Defamation is excellent, by the way, at showing the manipulation Israeli children endure. One of my favorite lines was from a rabbi arguing that an unreasonable obsession with anti-Semitism was the secular Jews' way of being Jewish.