Noam Chomsky on “anti-Semitism,” the ADL, and Israel

The following is a question (in italics) from an interviewer
and the answer provided by Chomsky,
as it appears in Section 44, “Israel: The Strategic Asset (March 1985),”
on pages 641–643 of the first, 1988, edition
of Chomsky’s Language and Politics.
Chomsky’s long response has been divided into three sections,
on “anti-Semitism,” the ADL, and Israel.
Grammar and coherence are sometimes a little lacking;
the editor in his introduction says interviews were lightly edited,
if edited at all.
Emphasis is added.

Can you talk about
the problems discussing Israeli politics in the United States
without being labeled “anti-Semitic.”
You, for example, speak out frequently, and you’ve written many books.
Have you personally encountered any difficulties?

Noam Chomsky:

On “Anti-Semitism”
I can’t be called “anti-Semitic,” because I’m Jewish,
so there’s another label that’s used.
There are two labels
that are used by people who call themselves “supporters of Israel.”
Actually they are the real enemies of Israel. [Original emphasis.]
They’re supporting the development of what I have described,
the development of a militarized, unviable society geared toward war
and subservient to American interests
[Here I strongly disagree with Chomsky.
In no way do American interests
call for Israel to take the hard line that it has.
Indeed, Chomsky notes below
how American policy towards Israel and its neighbors
is completely controlled by the Israel lobby,
whose interests surely do not coincide with those of America.]
that’s not support for Israel in any meaningful sense.

People who call themselves “supporters of Israel”
have two categories with which they try to silence criticism.
One is “anti-Semite,” the other is “self-hating Jew.”
That takes care of everyone.
You’re either an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew
if you don’t follow the party line strictly.

I should say that these tactics run across the board,
so it’s not just right-wing extremist Israeli circles,
or supporters of Israel here
that adopt that position,
but also people like Abba Eban, a Labor dove,
who have explicitly stated that the task of Israeli agitprop
is to make it clear that
any criticism of Israel is either anti-Semitism
or the position of self-hating Jews,
some comment like that.

On the ADL
In the United States a rather effective system of intimidation
has been developed to silence critique.
Let me just give you one example:
Take the Anti-Defamation League, the B’nai Brith,
which is reputed to be a civil rights organization.
It’s rather comical.
It’s actually
an organization devoted to trying to defame and intimidate and silence
people who criticize current Israeli policies,

whatever they may be.
For example, I myself,
through a lead in the New England office of the Anti-Defamation League,
was able to obtain a copy of my file there.
It’s 150 pages, just like an FBI file,
interoffice memos warning that I’m going to show up here and there,
surveillance of talks that I give,
comments and alleged transcripts of talks,
of the sort that you’d expect mostly fabricated
because people don’t hear or can’t understand,
this material has been circulated,
if I’m going to give a talk somewhere, if I came out to Boulder to give a talk,
this material would be sent to some local group
which would use it to extract defamatory material
which would then be circulated,
usually in unsigned pamphlets outside the place where I’d be speaking.
I happened to get this material
when it was being sent to a Harvard law professor named Alan Dershowitz
in preparation for a debate that we were to have a few days later,
so that he would be able to extract from it
defamatory material concocted by the Anti-Defamation League surveillance system,
which is in fact exactly what he did.

This is typical of the way they act.
If there’s any comment in the press
which they regard as insufficiently subservient to the party line,
there’ll be a flood of letters, delegations, protests, threats to withdraw advertising, etc.
[Not to mention promised or potential donations.]
The politicians of course are directly subjected to this,
and they are also subjected to substantial financial penalties
if they don’t go along.
The Israeli press is very open about this.
For example, after the last [1984] election,
there was an article in one of the major Israeli journals
by a very good journalist named Yaof Karney.
The headline of the article was actually a pun.
It reads in Hebrew
“Jewish money buys the vote,”
But it could also be read as
“Jewish money buys everything.”
That was the headline.
Then came a report of a speech by Thomas Dine,
head of the Israeli lobbying group in Washington, AIPAC,
in which he just gloated over the successes of the Jewish political lobby,
the Israeli political lobby here,
in controlling the American Congressional elections.
He said that their major achievement was to eliminate Senator Charles Percy,
who was too critical of Israel.
He went on to say that they felt that now that they had,
by judicious elections wins and victories,
Congress in their pocket until the year 2000.
If this appeared somewhere in the United States
it would be regarded as some kind of fanatic, anti-Semitic publication,
sort of like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
But this is a Hebrew article in the Hebrew press.
I should mention that the journalist was appalled by all of this.
He said it was a real threat to American democracy.
But here the Israeli lobbying groups regard it as a great success
and they are quite proud of it, though, of course,
they don’t publicly say the things that they say privately.
This is a very effective system,
particularly since there’s no counterweight to it.
There’s no pressure on the other side.

On Israel
There is a very broad international consensus,
and there has been for many years,
over a political settlement to the dispute.
It’s essentially a two-state settlement
which would recognize the national rights of both Jews and Palestinians.
It’s supported by most of the world.
It’s blocked by the United States, which leads the rejectionist camp.
But the point is that there’s no articulate voice here expressing anything like the international consensus,
or there’s no articulate voice here
opposing repression and atrocities conducted quite freely by Israel,
which encourages them to go on and do more of it.
That’s one of the reasons
why they’re capable of such really barbaric actions in south Lebanon.
They’ve never been criticized in the past, why should it begin now?
There’s occasional criticism
when things really get out offhand, like the Sabra and Shatila massacres,
but that’s quickly silenced and things return to their norm.
This totally one-sided defamation,
and judicious use of funds in the political system,
that has created a highly biased approach to the whole matter,
which is why the United States can continue to block a political settlement,
to maintain a system of military confrontation, a very dangerous one,
one which repeatedly threatens global war,
and do it with complete impunity.
There’s no internal criticism here.

Miscellaneous Articles


Does Abe Foxman Have an Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?
New York Times Magazine, 2007-01-14

[A sizable excerpt;
paragraph numbers, emphasis, and comments are added.]

In certain precincts of the Jewish community,
a person who insists that the sky is falling,
despite ample evidence to the contrary,
is said to gevaltize
a neologism derived from the famous [?] Yiddish cry of shock or alarm.
The word is sometimes applied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as Aipac,
the hard-line and notoriously successful pro-Israel lobby.
But in the world of Jewish leaders,
one man stands alone in the annals of gevalthood —
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League
and scourge of anti-Semites of high estate and low,
in Hollywood and Tehran,
on campus and in the tabloids.

In a conversation last month over lunch,
as Foxman’s bodyguard kept a weather eye open from across the room,
I asked the A.D.L. leader about his ever-renewed fount of outrage.
“I haven’t done gevalt for 30 years,” Foxman said,
though some might argue otherwise.
“But never before has there been such a threat to Israel and to the Jewish people from a geopolitical conglomerate —
the Arab world, with Iran, with Hamas, with Hezbollah,
with its position that it will not recognize Israel.
The vise is closing.”

The United States, Foxman added,
is “the only — the only — country in the world
that is consistently willing to stand up to hypocrisy,
to double standards, to triple standards,
which always has the guts to say no.”
And now he sees this great bulwark crumbling.
Former President Jimmy Carter accuses Israel in his most recent book
[Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid]
of practicing a policy of “apartheid” in the occupied territories.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell,
according to Karen DeYoung, a Washington Post associate editor,
in her recent biography, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell,
links President Bush’s Middle East policy
more to Jewish-neoconservative influence than to principle.
Judith Regan, the celebrity editor, was reported as saying — she denies it —
that the Jews were behind her recent downfall.
(Some of Foxman’s examples are more weight-bearing than others.)

But what really makes Abe Foxman shray (cry) gevalt
is the claim that an “Israel lobby” or a “Jewish lobby” —
Aipac and the A.D.L. and a few others — has
effectively gained control over U.S. policy toward the Middle East
and suppressed voices calling for alternative policies.

Foxman himself became entangled in this debate in October,
when he was accused of intimidating the Polish consul general in New York
into canceling a talk to be given by Tony Judt,
a highly regarded professor of European history at New York University
and a supporter of the “Israel lobby” view —
which seemed to confirm Judt’s thesis.

Foxman says he is innocent of the charge,
and his sense of outraged virtue makes him all the more incandescent.
Abe Foxman isn’t doing the stifling —
he’s the one being muzzled with the charge of stifling.
But the stifling won’t work:
Foxman says he will not be intimidated;
people all across the Islamic world
already believe every kind of pernicious fantasy about the Jews and about Israel.
And now here come credentialed American — even Jewish! — scholars saying,
as he put it,
“The Jews control the media, control the government, control Congress.”
The Jewish people, Foxman said gravely,
“have paid a very, very significant price for that canard.”
And yes, he’s willing to shray gevalt until he’s blue in the face.

So what’s the problem, the thing Abe Foxman is fighting or Foxman himself?

The Anti-Defamation League,
which has an annual budget of more than $50 million,
offers “anti-bias education and diversity training”
through its World of Difference Institute;
plays a major advocacy role in keeping church and state separate;
monitors a vast array of extremist activity;
publishes curricula on the Holocaust and on tolerance;
and so on.
But the league is, in the end, mostly Abe.
Foxman is a domineering character who over the years, according to critics,
has driven out potential rivals and successors.
When I asked him whom else in the organization I should talk to,
he couldn’t think of anyone,
not even Kenneth Jacobson, the A.D.L.’s deputy national director
and, others had told me, Foxman’s alter-ego.
The A.D.L., for all its myriad activities, is a one-man Sanhedrin
doling out opprobrium or absolution
for those who speak ill of Israel or the Jews.

[Yes, that’s a key point.
The ADL does not stop with fighting defamation of Jews,
a task which everyone, myself included, can applaud;
it goes on to
a) fight almost any criticism of Jews, not matter how legitimate, and
b) serve clearly and indisputably as a lobby for Israel in the United States,
in other words, is part of the Israel Lobby as defined by Mearsheimer and Walt.
How on earth Foxman can do what he does
and then have the gall to deny Mearsheimer and Walt’s claims
is beyond understanding.]


[Remarks dealing mainly with Foxman’s background and style are omitted.]

One of the really remarkable features of post-9/11 political life
was that in the first months and years after the attacks,
scarcely anyone called for America to abandon Israel,
though it is hardly difficult to argue that our support for the Jewish state
has cost us dearly in the Islamic world.
(Foxman himself insists that
Muslim anger at American support for Israel
has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism.)
[For evidence to the contrary, see RCIT, WIES, and most especially OBLon9/11.]
Rabble-rousers haven’t gained any traction by scapegoating Israel.
[That seems to me a loaded, biased sentence.
One could easily read into it that those who assert that
American support for Israel is a principal cause of Muslim enmity towards America
are “rabble-rousers” and are “scapegoating” Israel.
In reality, but carefully omitted from this article,
there are several instances of
undisputably sober, reliable and patriotic American citizens
trying to call attention to the connections between
anti-American terrorism, America’s support for Israel, and the Israel Lobby
well before the Mearsheimer-Walt paper came out,
for example,
Michael Scheuer (2004-IH, 2005-03-22, 2006-04-08, 2006-07-25),
Kathleen and Bill Christison (2002/2004, 2003),
Patrick Buchanan (2003), and
Ralph Nader’s
2004 puppet/puppetmaster view of American/Israeli relations
(and the 2004 reaction of the ADL/WP tag team thereto
Evidently in the eyes of Traub and/or Foxman
all those are merely “rabble-rousers.”]

Nor have legislators of either the left or the right
pushed for a substantial rethinking of our policy.

The publication last March (in The London Review of Books)
of “The Israel Lobby,”
an article written by the political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, marked the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of the post-9/11 taboo. Throwing aside all the circumlocutions with which the subject is usually addressed, as well as most of the ethical and historical premises,
Mearsheimer and Walt insisted that
Israel had neither a strategic nor a moral claim on American sympathies.
Israel was not an asset but a “liability” in the war on terror;
“the U.S. has a terrorism problem in good part
because it is so closely allied with Israel.”
And while “there is a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence,”
the country’s “past and present conduct” brutal mistreatment of Palestinians,
refusing serious peace offers,
even spying on the United States
“offers no moral basis for privileging it over the Palestinians.”

How, then, to explain so one-sided a policy?
“The unmatched power,” they argue, “of the Israel lobby.”
Mearsheimer and Walt, distinguished figures who teach at the University of Chicago and at Harvard, respectively,
note that the Israel lobby is not a cabal
but simply a very effective pressure group
whose goal is to influence legislators and
“to prevent critical comments
from getting a fair hearing in the political arena.”
Like any other lobby, this one
(the authors are speaking specifically here of Aipac)
succeeds at the legislative level
“due to its ability
to reward legislators and Congressional candidates who support its agenda and
to punish those who challenge it.”
The lobby dominates media
and has established a “commanding presence” in policy institutes,
thus ensuring that, with few exceptions — mostly on campus —
only one side of the debate can be heard.
And if all else fails, the two maintain,
the lobby is always prepared to engage in intellectual blackmail:
“Anyone who criticizes Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle Eastern policy ...
stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite.”
That would be where Abe Foxman comes in.

At times,
Mearsheimer and Walt come very close to describing the Israel lobby
as something like a fifth column.
“The bottom line,” they write, “is that Aipac,
a de facto agent for a foreign government,
has a stranglehold on Congress.”
And it has a stranglehold, as well, Mearsheimer and Walt argue,
on the Bush administration.
“Pressure from Israel and the lobby,” they write,
was “critical” in the decision to go to war in Iraq.
That pressure came
not only from top officials of the Israeli government
and representatives of Jewish groups
but also from a subset of neoconservatives, most but not all of them Jewish,
both inside and outside the administration.
More recently, they suggest,
Israel, the Israel lobby and the neoconservatives
have shaped the administration’s belligerent policy toward Syria and Iran.
[“They suggest”? That claim seems irrefutable.]
The ultimate objective is to give Israel “a free hand with the Palestinians,”
while the U.S. “will do most of the fighting, dying, ... rebuilding and paying.”

“The Israel Lobby”
slammed into the opinion-making world with a Category 5 force.
The article loosed a flood of
fevered editorials, labored rebuttals and bare-knuckle debates.
Not only the A.D.L. and other watchdog groups,
like the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America,
but even academic colleagues of Mearsheimer and Walt
pointed out serious errors in the historical portions of the essay.
[See the commentary on M&W here;
the political left may find 2006-06-16-Christison interesting.]

Benny Morris,
a revisionist Israeli historian whose work Mearsheimer and Walt have drawn on,
described the article as
“a travesty of the history which I have studied and written on
for the past two decades.”
The authors were also attacked for cherry-picking quotations.
J. J. Goldberg, the Forward editor and a critic of Israeli policy,
wrote that by conflating moderate supporters of Israel and genuine die-hards,
the authors had managed
“to create the appearance of a vast, terrifying octopus.”
The most trenchant criticism was also the most simple:
Even if the authors didn’t believe that Israel has legitimate moral claims,
the American people do,
and it was this widespread support,
more than any unholy machinations,
that explained the continuing support of Israel
even in the face of the terrorist threat.
[The answer to that observation is also quite simple:
The media, influenced and/or controlled
by its Jewish owners, advertisers, amd journalists,
insures that unbiased reporting on issues related to Israel
never reaches American eyes or ears.
As a result,
America and Israel stand apart from almost the entire world
in how they vote at the UN.]

Scholars and journalists familiar with the workings of the Israel lobby
came to Mearsheimer and Walt’s defense, if somewhat warily,
in the pages of The Nation and The New York Review of Books.
But support, or at least confirmation,
also came from inside the world of Jewish advocacy.
According to M. J. Rosenberg,
the Washington director for the Israel Policy Forum and a veteran of Capitol Hill,
“The way it works is that most members of Congress feel that
saying things on the Middle East that are not strictly the Aipac line
will get them in more trouble than it’s worth.”
Rosenberg notes that
legislation on the Middle East generally consists of symbolic statements,
like the recent Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act,
which are “written by Aipac.”
No one, Rosenberg says, “advocates anti-Israel policies,”
and even the modest American Task Force on Palestine
is “closer to what the American Jewish community supports” —
a two-state solution,
the rollback of settlements in the occupied territories —
“than any of these right-wing Jewish groups are.”
Rosenberg describes the attitude of most legislators
as a shortsighted “path of least resistance,”
which, he says he fears, will do real harm to Israel in the long run.

The storm over the Israel lobby picked up new life in September,
when Mearsheimer and two supporters
squared off against three former policy-makers and authors —
two from the Clinton administration and one from Israel —
in a debate at the Cooper Union in New York.
One member of the Mearsheimer tag team was Tony Judt,
who stoutly defended the position that the Israel lobby
“acts constantly and very effectively to silence criticism of its cause.”
The debate was raucous, and widely publicized,
and succeeded in deepening, or at least confirming,
the hostility surrounding the issue.

Then came a new tempest, if in a much smaller teapot:
the Polish Consulate affair.
After Judt’s talk there was canceled at the last minute,
he says he heard from the event’s organizer that
“serial phone calls” from Abe Foxman
had frightened the consulate into canceling the event.
Here was the proof, in case more proof were needed,
that the Israel lobby was squelching debate —
precisely the point Judt had planned to make.
He now threw a match into New York’s ever-combustible intellectual world
by circulating an e-mail message detailing his victimization
to a long list of pundits and scholars.
A number of the recipients of Judt’s e-mail
were less outraged by his treatment than by his views.
Nevertheless, the issue of the suppression of debate had now been joined,
and more than 100 people signed an open letter,
which appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The New York Review of Books,
accusing Foxman and the A.D.L. of fostering “a climate of intimidation” and lamenting that the organization had apparently lost sight of its hundred-year commitment to civil rights and public education.

The problem was that Foxman had not made those serial phone calls.
According to a story that he tells and others confirm,
a subordinate had called on his behalf
to see if the consulate was sponsoring the event.
Satisfied that it was not, the group dropped the issue.
Of course, even those calls
might have prompted some rethinking
by a diplomat from a country that has worked hard to restore its ties to Israel.
A separate call from David Harris, the head of the American Jewish Committee —
who later explained that he had called as “a friend of Poland,”
because “that evening was going to be entirely contrary
to the entire spirit of Polish foreign policy” —
probably proved more influential.
But when a consulate official telephoned the organizer, Patricia Huntington,
to call off the event,
she says he told her that the consul general couldn’t come to the phone
as he was speaking to Foxman.
This was what Huntington later told Judt.

Here was one of those stories that seemed so self-evidently true
that its falsity couldn’t be accepted.
Abe Foxman was, after all, the hanging judge of anti-Semitism.
Isn’t it just the kind of thing he would do?
And the A.D.L. so neatly symbolized the divide between mainstream Jewish groups
and the intellectuals who had once been so closely associated with them.
On this subject, Tony Judt went to town in a way that he may live to regret.
In one widely circulated e-mail message,
he described Foxman and David Harris as “illiberal lying bigots —
Fascists, as we used to say.”
He dismissed Foxman himself with an almost Leninist turn of phrase:
“Pollution like him swirls around in the gutters of every democracy.”
Apparently it’s not only the hanging judge who suffers from a sense of grandiosity.
Judt now says, “I don’t feel in the least personally suppressed,”
but rather he worries about the effect of this attempt at suppression
on other, less doughty souls.

That, Abe Foxman would say, is “abject nonsense.”
The A.D.L., he says, doesn’t operate that way;
it seeks balance, not suppression.
Foxman told me that he believes he’s challenging his adversaries to a debate,
not shouting them down.
[The fact of the matter is that,
immediately following phone calls from the ADL and the AJC,
and a mere one hour before the talk was scheduled to be given,
the talk was called off,
and so far as I know it has never been rescheduled.
Let’s be clear: that is suppression of speech.
Foxman is manifestly either delirious or a pathological liar.
But that doesn’t stop his supporters from continuing to support him.
Clearly, many in the American Jewish community
support pro-Zionist censorship.]

But, I asked, isn’t slinging the dread charge of anti-Semitism
at people like Jimmy Carter and Tony Judt and Mearsheimer and Walt
really a way of choking off debate?
No, it isn’t, Foxman said.
This was at our lunch;
Foxman got so exercised that he began to choke on his gratin.
I asked if it was really right to call Carter,
the president who negotiated the Camp David accords, an anti-Semite.

“I didn’t call him an anti-Semite.”

“But you said he was bigoted. Isn’t that the same thing?”

“No. ‘Bigoted’ is you have preconceived notions about things.”

The argument that the Israel lobby constricted debate was itself bigoted,
he said.

“But several Jewish officials I’ve talked to say just that.”

“They’re wrong.”

“Are they bigoted?”

Foxman didn’t want to go there.
He said that he had never heard any serious person make that claim.

Perhaps the question comes down to this: Are we courting more danger by suppressing speech or by speech itself? Several of the signatories of the open letter with whom I spoke cited John Stuart Mill’s dictum that in a democratic society the free market of ideas ultimately sifts through falsehood to produce truth. Abe Foxman says this is naïve. The A.D.L. used to argue with Norman Lear, the producer of “All in the Family,” that listeners weren’t laughing at Archie Bunker but with him. Foxman says the same thing now about Borat. Experience — primal experience — has taught him that the truth does not win on its own merits; the market for falsehood is just too powerful. “Where is it being debated?” he asked. “In the universities, on the airwaves. Advanced by whom? Harvard, the University of Chicago. With Pat Buchanan, it wasn’t legitimate. Who cares about David Duke? It is now a legitimate debate.” And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the murderers of Danny Pearl and Ilan Halimi, and millions of impressionable Muslims are listening and taking notes. That’s the audience that Abe Foxman worries about.

What is the difference between this claim and the accusation, a favorite of Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that critics of the war in Iraq, or of the war on terror, or of homeland-security preparations, are emboldening the enemy? And isn’t that claim, too, designed to suppress debate, or at the very least to make the critic think long and hard before opening his mouth? Is that a price worth paying? Put otherwise: Should we make the existential choice to err on the side of fear, or of hope — a prudent, watchful hope, that is?

Foxman invited me to hear him speak in December at Temple Sholom in Greenwich, Conn. The temple has 700 members, mostly younger families, but the crowd at the event, and especially at the $250-a-person reception beforehand, was an Abe Foxman crowd — older, richer, more conservative. Foxman gamely grinned and hugged and mugged for the camera; the bodyguard straightened his collar. One by one, the congregants approached to consult him on matters Jewish and Middle Eastern; Foxman fielded the questions with due solemnity. A woman who introduced herself as the daughter of Holocaust survivors said that Jimmy Carter was just as bad as Ahmadinejad — another Israel-denier. Foxman demurred on the comparison but said he planned to write to Tim Russert, the NBC interviewer, asking why he had treated Carter with “kid gloves.” A short, bearded man who said that he was a member of Aipac asked, “What do you think of John Bolton?” The American ambassador to the United Nations had just tendered his resignation. Both agreed that it was a shame. The A.D.L. had taken out a full-page ad applauding Bolton as a staunch defender of Israel. More hugs, more pictures.

Foxman is an anachronism. The demographic of which he is a member — Holocaust survivor — is rapidly disappearing. Younger people don’t know quite what to make of him. In a recent column in The Jewish Journal, David A. Lehrer, formerly the head of the A.D.L.’s Los Angeles office, observed that Jews are now the most widely admired religious group in America, as well as the most successful, and lamented that Jewish leaders — Foxman specifically — continue to harp on Jewish “insecurity” and the threat of anti-Semitism. Lehrer says that when he raised his view that the A.D.L. had to learn to speak to this new, confident but less affiliated generation of Jews, Foxman dismissed it out of hand. The generational question does not interest him. “It’s not my job to judge whether they should feel beleaguered or not,” Foxman snapped when I raised the subject. “I do feel. And I’ve got news for you: Every one of them, in their maturing process, will experience this.”

James Traub, a contributing writer, is the author most recently of
“The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the U.N. in the Era of American World Power.”


The Defamation League
By Eric Alterman
The Nation, 2009-02-16

[Emphasis is added.]

To delve deeply almost anywhere into the arguments over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is to invite an overload of irony,
but let us focus for one moment on a fracas caused by Abe Foxman,
national director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League.
Irony No. 1 is that a “league,” as such, does not exist.
Foxman is it.
(When asked, for a New York Times profile,
whom in the organization besides himself a reporter might interview,
Foxman “couldn’t think of anyone.”)
[Alterman’s argument seems idiotic to me.
The ADL has been reported as having an annual budget in the tens of millions of dollars, plus tens of thousands of members.
It produces a steady stream of reports, web material, and advertisements,
indicating a sizeable staff.
Its members, contributors and staff
make up the league, in any reasonable assessment.]

Irony No. 2?
Under Foxman,

“antidefamation” is not really the ADL’s line;
defamation is.

Take, for example, Foxman’s recent attack on Bill Moyers
(a longstanding friend and occasional supporter of my work).
When Moyers broadcast
a less than laudatory commentary about Israel’s Gaza invasion,
Foxman accused the veteran journalist and liberal icon of--I kid you not--
”moral equivalency, racism, historical revisionism,
and indifference to terrorism.”
(You can read it online, together with Moyers’s response.)
The incident says far more about Foxman than Moyers.
As M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum observed,
Moyers “is one of the most admired figures in America.
This attack will harm [him] not at all.
It will, in fact, enhance his reputation just as Ed Murrow’s was enhanced
by the attacks on him during the McCarthy era.”
Still, it is demonstrative of
the maximalist Manichaean mindset
that characterizes so much of American Jewish officialdom.

Among Moyers’s myriad sins, says Foxman, was his
“ignorance of the terrorist threat against Israel,
claiming that checkpoints, the security fence, and the Gaza operation
are tactics of humiliation rather than counter-terrorism.”
Now really: is it so hard to imagine that
the checkpoints, security fence and Gaza operations
are tactics of both humiliation and counter-terrorism?
Where, exactly, would be the contradiction?

But for the likes of Foxman,
any action Israel takes is de facto defensive
and solely in the interests of peace,
no matter how warlike.
He goes so far as to attack Barack Obama’s choice of former Senator George Mitchell as the US envoy to the region
because--get this--
Mitchell is “fair” and “meticulously even-handed,”
and Foxman says he is “not sure the situation requires that kind of approach.”
Foxman’s moral compass has gotten so twisted,
he has the ADL working to undermine Congressional resolutions condemning genocide--specifically, that committed by Turks against the Armenians.
Foxman does not dispute that genocide took place;
rather, he argues that it would be inconvenient for Turkish (and Israeli) Jews
were Congress to take note of it.
So we have reached a point where an organization founded by Jews in 1913
to “secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike”
is now in the business of defaming those with whom its director disagrees
and purposely turning a blind eye to genocide.
In light of the desire of so many anti-Semites
to treat the Holocaust in a similar fashion,
Foxman’s position strikes this Jew at least
as one too many ironies to be tolerated.

What’s more, the defamation of Moyers escalated further.
Following Foxman’s fusillade,
New York Times neocon William Kristol inserted in a regular column--
yet another devoted as usual to the majesty of George W. Bush’s leadership--
an attack on Moyers for allegedly
“lambast[ing] Israel for what he called its ‘state terrorism,’
its ‘waging war on an entire population’ in Gaza.”
Like Foxman, Kristol also implied that Moyers was guilty of racism.

Again, read the text of Moyers’s remarks.
Neither Kristol nor Foxman notes his stated belief that
“every nation has the right to defend its people.
Israel is no exception,
all the more so because Hamas would like to see every Jew in Israel dead,”
or his deep concern about
the growth of “a radical stream of Islam
[that] now seeks to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.”
Yet despite the fact that Bill Moyers is, well, Bill Moyers,
the Times editors not only allowed Kristol
to deliberately distort and decontextualize his remarks;
they would not allow Moyers to defend himself in his own words in response.
After the PBS journalist submitted a letter to the editor, he was told,
“We will not print that ‘William Kristol distorts or misrepresents,’
and the editors will not budge.”
They insisted that the letter be changed for publication to read,
“I take strong exception to William Kristol’s characterization,”
and they truncated much else.

This is pathetic and ridiculous.
If one were to survey, say,
1,000 journalists or even 1,000 New York Times readers
and ask them whether they were more likely
to trust the judgment, honesty or bravery
of Bill Moyers or of William Kristol,
my guess is that the result would be a landslide victory in Moyers’s favor
that would dwarf that of Barack Obama’s over John McCain.
I’d even bet the same would be true in a private survey of Times editors.
Yet publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal-
rather than admit their colossal mistake
in giving so prestigious and influential a perch to Kristol,
who was at long last ushered off the page with his next column
just one week later-
instead chose to empower his McCarthyite slanders
against one of America’s most distinguished patriots and practitioners
of their profession.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz,
the celebrated author and patriot David Grossman termed the Gaza operation
“just one more way-station on a road paved with fire, violence and hatred,”
and added,
“our conduct here in this region has, for a long time,
been flawed, immoral and unwise.”

When Foxman and Kristol have the guts to go after Grossman--
who, after all, lost his son two years ago
in a war both men supported from the comfort of their armchairs--
then perhaps we might take seriously their complaints
about the relatively moderate sentiments expressed by Moyers.
Until then, I fear, we must chalk up their ideological fanaticism
and their moral and intellectual confusion
as yet another casualty of this endlessly destructive conflict.

About Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman is a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is also “The Liberal Media” columnist for The Nation, a senior fellow and “Altercation” weblogger for Media Matters for America, (formerly at MSNBC.com) in Washington, DC, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he writes and edits the “Think Again” column, a senior fellow (since 1985) at the World Policy Institute at The New School in New York, and a history consultant to HBO Films.

Abe Foxman's 'Anti-Semitic Pandemic'
by Ran HaCohen
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-17

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

If there were a Nobel Prize for Hypocrisy,
Abraham Foxman would have been a great candidate.
The director of the Anti-Defamation League,
who once interpreted even International Holocaust Remembrance Day
as an expression of the Gentiles’ latent desire to see Jews dead,
has published a new survey on anti-Semitism in Europe [.pdf].
One of the assertions respondents were asked to agree or disagree with was
“Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country”;
an affirmative response was considered indicative of anti-Semitism.

Indeed, doubting the loyalty of a minority is not nice.
And the fact that many Zionists would affirm that assertion,
or at least expect a Jew to be more loyal to Israel
than to his country of residence,
is a weak excuse for agreeing with such a characterization of all Jews.
But let’s put things in perspective:
even if about half of Europeans say
it’s “probably true” that Jews are more loyal to Israel,
not a single European party
is pledging to revoke Jews’ citizenship unless they prove their loyalty.
I haven’t heard of such a demand toward any other native minority either,
in Europe or elsewhere.
Even the late Joerg Haider did not go that far.

There is one exception, of course.
The foremost campaign slogan of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party
has been “No Loyalty – No Citizenship,”
which is aimed at Israel’s Arab minority.
Thirteen percent of Israelis gave Lieberman their vote.
What does Abe Foxman have to say about that?
Well, Foxman actually defends Lieberman, describing him as harmless:
“He’s not saying expel them. He’s not saying punish them.”
Not at all:
he’s just demonizing them and threatening to deprive them of their citizenship.
No big deal.

So a private person who doubts the loyalty of Jews in a telephone interview
is a dirty anti-Semite to Foxman.
But a major political party
that publicly defames Arab Israelis and pledges to revoke their citizenship
gets a pass from the director of the Anti-Defamation(!) League,
purportedly committed to “Fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry, and Extremism”!


Section 2
Don’t Confuse Us With Facts
Obviously, the survey was reported widely in the Israeli media.
In fact, much like anti-Communism in the U.S. during the 1980s,
anti-anti-Semitism is (Jewish) Israel’s national religion.
Every non-Jew is an anti-Semite, potentially if not actually –
be it a bad-tempered waiter in a French restaurant
or even Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Anti-Semitism is our best excuse:
We do not believe in peace because all Arabs are anti-Semites.
We must attack Iran
because all Muslims are anti-Semites and want to annihilate us,
and the rest of the world is anti-Semitic
and doesn’t care if we are annihilated.
And of course every criticism of Israel’s occupation is purely anti-Semitic.

Obviously, reports of steady or declining levels of anti-Semitism
is not what Israelis want to hear:
anti-Semitism should always be on the rise, to boost our national cohesion.

Therefore both Ha’aretz (Feb. 11, Hebrew) and YNet (Feb. 10, Hebrew)
used the partial data of
“31% of Europeans Blame the Jews for the Economic Crisis”
as an ominous headline.
Both focused on the absolute figures of 2009
and kept the inconvenient trend to a marginal penultimate paragraph.
Even then,
Ha’aretz journalist Natasha Mozgovaya went out of her way to translate
the ADL’s “marked decline” in British anti-Semitism
as “a small decline” (not even bothering to mention what it was compared to),
whereas YNet omitted the adjective and wrote just “a decline.”
And both followed the ADL summary and
quickly “balanced” the overall positive trend
by emphasizing the negative fraction of the findings.

Make no mistake: some level of racism, including anti-Semitism,
does exist in any society;
racist Israel is the last place to deny that.
But just like real anti-Semitism undermines the Palestinian cause,
so do biased surveys and manipulative declarations about anti-Semitism
undermine the struggle against racism.
And Foxman criticizing one form of racism while supporting another is despicable.


What does this say about the ADL?
by DK
kvetcher.net, 2010-02-10

If I were a marketing person
seeking to justify the existence of/fundraise for the ADL
through citations of White Nationalists and White Supremacists,
I would also look to David Duke for juicy quotes. Why not?
He is quite infamous in our community.

But why would they pick this one?
“As America is transformed
from a 90 percent European American nation, as it was in the 1960s,
to one where we will soon be a minority,
should we not ask some pertinent questions.
Is this racial diversity enriching,
or will it be damaging to our social fabric?”

- Duke Web Site May 2000

How is this not a good question?
What does this say about the ADL and its donors that they cite this
as a proof of how evil David Duke is?

Is this about “fighting anti-semitism,”
or is this about the ADL’s attempt to smear anyone who questions
the ADL’s fanatical goal of a white minority (as soon as possible)
as a white supremacist?
After all,
questioning the ADL’s goal of making whites “strangers”
is something the likes of David Duke would ask, right?

[Remember, the noun phrase
“the ADL’s fanatical goal of a white minority (as soon as possible)”
was written by “The Kvetcher”, a Jew.

Kevin MacDonald has commented on this.]

The horror of it all
by DK
kvetcher.net, 2010-02-12

…is that when you get beneath
the fantasy, the conspiracy, and all the revisionist nonsense
that is tolerated in so many WN [white nationalist] circles,
their actual demands are still more reasonable than
the insatiable demands of a radical Jewish organization like the ADL.

This is the horror of it all.
What does the ADL really want?
The ADL just wants to fight.
They just want to scream at people and call them names.
Look at the very beginning of their so-called “mission.”
Just look at this nonsense:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in the U.S. and abroad
through information, education, legislation, and advocacy.
ADL serves as a resource for
government, media, law enforcement, educators and the public.

In other words, yell, scream, tantrum, restrict, disenfranchise.
They FIGHT. That is their mission. How very productive.

What is Denise’s stated goals?
What are the policies she (and others) would like changed?
Even WN – all we want is to be LEFT ALONE.
And to stop being forced to pay for every-one else,
via “Hate Speech Laws”
(As a person of Celtic descent –
I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate being told what I can and cannot say.
As an American –
this is a direct violation of my beloved First Amendment),
and confiscatory taxation,
and Affirmative Action/displace Whitey policies.
[original source]

My point is…it isn’t just that Jews like me are more reasonable than the ADL.
The truth is much harsher. Much harsher. Terrible, in fact.

The sad truth of the matter is that even some of the
Holocaust-denying, conspiracy theorist, revisionist, Jew-hating people
are often still more reasonable in their stated mission than the ADL is.

The ADL is that bad. And they speak in our name.

How much longer will we allow them to do so?

Anti-Defamation League Goes After Gen. Petraeus
By Spencer Ackerman
Washington Independent, 2010-03-18

[The ADL’s full statement; emphasis is added:]

The assumptions Gen. Petraeus presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee
wrongly attribute
“insufficient progress” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and
“a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel”
as significantly impeding
the U.S. military mission in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan
and in dealing with the Iranian influences in the region.
It is that much more of a concern to hear this
coming from such a great American patriot and hero.

The General’s assertions lead to the illusory conclusion that
if only there was a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the U.S. could successfully complete its mission in the region.

Gen. Petraeus has simply erred
in linking the challenges faced by the U.S. and coalition forces in the region
to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict,
and blaming extremist activities on the absence of peace
and the perceived U.S. favoritism for Israel.
This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive.

Whenever the Israeli-Arab conflict is made a focal point,
Israel comes to be seen as the problem.
If only Israel would stop settlements,
if only Israel would talk with Hamas,
if only Israel would make concessions on refugees,
if only it would share Jerusalem,
everything in the region would then fall into line.

[Just who is in the best position to say
what is “significantly impeding” U.S. military missions?
Since when did the ADL become more expert than the U.S. military on that?]

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