Group Opposes ADL Involvement


Arlington Advocate, MA
GateHouse News Service
Thu Sep 20, 2007, 12:00 AM EDT

Arlington, Mass. – We are among several residents of Arlington of
different religions and ethnicities who strongly support a town program
to fight bigotry and make our community a place where diversity is
welcome, but who have opposed Anti-Defamation League sponsorship of
such a program from the time public announcement was made about plans
to bring No Place for Hate here more than eight months ago.

We are encouraged by the suspension or reconsideration of the program
in Watertown, Arlington, Belmont, Newton and other nearby communities
pending full ADL acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide and support
for a congressional resolution to that effect. And we applaud our
Armenian sisters and brothers for their principled and powerful
political stand on this issue.

But our concerns with the Anti-Defamation League are far broader,
although many of them are rooted in the organization’s support for
Israeli positions, actions and alliances.

Since it was founded in 1913, ADL has played an important role in
fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. Many are
familiar with ADL’s anti-hate work and bridge-building to religious
and ethnic communities, especially in New England.

However, over the last 30 years the ADL has also allied itself with
right-wing forces in our country, silenced dissent on matters related
to Israel and blacklisted and defamed progressive voices expressing
views that are not in keeping with its own, particularly on Israel and
Palestine. Journalists and researchers who publish in the mainstream
press have documented this.

As residents who care about our town and want to help create a welcome
and open community, we say that ADL is not an appropriate co-sponsor
for an official local program.

Here are some of our reasons.

1) ADL blacklists, defames and silences the voices of academics,
progressive Jews, Arabs, Muslims, and other critics of Israeli
policy. As noted on the Jewish Voice for Peace Web site, "The ADL’s
stated mission is to protect the rights of Jews and fight bigotry
wherever it appears. But the ADL has created an environment of fear and
intimidation, in which thousands of American Jews are systematically

In 1984 and in 1995-96, the Middle East Studies Association of North
America, the major academic and professional association setting
the standards for scholarship on the Middle East, condemned ADL’s
blacklisting of critics of Israeli policy. ADL continues to harass
academics critical of Israeli policy and American foreign policy in
the Middle East.

Arab, Muslim, and Jewish voices in the academy are especially
targeted. ADL has destroyed the careers and reputations of academics
by disseminating falsehoods about their views.

Since the 1970s, national ADL leaders have written about what they call
the "new anti-Semitism," which renders any serious critic of Israel
an anti-Semite or "self-hating Jew." In 2006, ADL condemned Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch reports on the Israeli-Hezbollah
war, calling Amnesty’s report "bigoted, biased and borderline
anti-Semitic" and castigating Human Rights Watch for "immorality at
the highest level." More recently, ADL strongly criticized former
President Jimmy Carter for employing "the old canard and conspiracy
theory of Jewish control" and more broadly challenged his integrity
for his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Only two weeks ago
in an NPR interview, ADL National Director Abe Foxman condemned
Harvard Professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago Professor
John Mearsheimer for their new book on the Israel lobby by employing
analogies to Hitler and Stalin.

2) ADL conducts illegal surveillance. In the 1980s and 1990s, ADL
conducted illegal surveillance of more than 950 groups and nearly
10,000 activists. Targeted groups included NAACP, Asian-American
Law Caucus, Artists Against Apartheid, Farm Workers Union, ACLU,
Mother Jones magazine, National Lawyers Guild, American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greenpeace, Act Up, Action for Animals,
United Auto Workers and the American Indian Movement. ADL operatives
shared information on anti-apartheid organizing in the U.S. with
South Africa’s Afrikaner government.

In the 1990s several lawsuits were filed against the ADL in San
Francisco. In 1999 Federal Judge Richard Paez issued an injunction
permanently enjoining ADL from engaging in further illegal spying on
Arab-American, anti-apartheid and civil rights activists and requiring
ADL to show evidence of adherence to this injunction. Since the 1990s,
several other cases against ADL have made or are making their way
through the courts.

The ADL’s history of surveillance dates back to the 1940s when ADL
spied on leftists and communists. The ADL also shared this information
with The House Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI.

3) ADL opposes affirmative action. In the 1970s ADL was an
early staunch leader in the national fight against affirmative
action. In 1978, ADL head Nathan Perlmutter called for a ban on all
race-based criteria for university admissions. In 2003, in support
of anti-affirmative action plaintiffs, ADL filed an amicus brief to
the Supreme Court in a case involving race-based admissions at the
University of Michigan.

The Town of Arlington has a firm commitment to affirmative action, as
embodied in our Affirmative Action Advisory Committee. This is a sharp
contrast with the position taken by the ADL on affirmative action.

4) ADL advocates for war in the Middle East. Since the 1980s ADL
has aligned with right-wing forces in the U.S. and abroad. In 2002,
ADL was one of the groups advocating for the invasion of Iraq and it
has long maintained a hawkish stance on U.S. military action in the
region, currently beating the drums to promote U.S. war on Iran.

For these reasons, in addition to the national organization’s
long-standing refusal to fully acknowledge the Armenian Genocide,
we believe that ADL is not an appropriate sponsor of a program on
teaching openness to diverse perspectives. We ask our Arlington
friends and neighbors: If you were a member of any of the groups
targeted by the ADL, would you want the organization to be sponsor
of an anti-discrimination program in your town?