Op-Ed Columns Opinion

Open Letter to Abe Foxman, Nat'l Director, Anti-Defamation League

By Charles Jacobs ~

Dear Mr. Foxman;
I write to you with the utmost respect for you and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). You work diligently to achieve your mission and this letter is to urge you to continue to do so, and also to plead with you to redirect your focus to the real and present danger facing the Jewish people today.
As you yourself have said, Islamic anti-Semitism constitutes the largest threat faced today by world Jewry.  Funded in the main by Saudi petro-dollars, mosques and madrassas around the globe teach millions of Muslims that Jews are the ‘sons of monkeys and pigs’ and ‘the murderers of prophets and the enemies of Islam’.  This poison has reached beyond Muslim lands, engulfed Europe where Jews and Jewish institutions have become under increasing physical assault, and now is reaching American shores, where radical Muslim leaders constantly impart the message to their people to hate Jews.  Muslims have targeted and murdered Jews in America and mounted many plots to attack Jewish institutions. Even you on a number of occasions have said that this development is extremely  dangerous for our people.
Yet the ADL, the Jewish people’s largest and most important defense organization, has done little to educate Jews about this daunting problem. Neither has the ADL developed a strategy or even a campaign to adequately address it.
Indeed, in a recently completed study – at www.charlesjacobs.org  — fewer than 8% of ADL press releases issued over the last 15 years address Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism and terrorism. And, as the problem continues to grow, ADL generates even fewer press releases that address  these issues.
If this problem is one of our most pressing, why are the resources expended on it so small relative to other things that you do? Certainly, the traditional sources of anti-Semitism in this country are worthy of your scrutiny, but the lack of emphasis on the existential threat to world Jewry and its newfound presence in America is telling.
Further, while FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Jews in America are eight times the number of crimes against Muslims, the ADL has sought to validate the Islamist claim – contrary to all objective data — that hatred of Muslims is a major problem in America, and spends Jewish resources to fight “Islamophobia” because, in your words, “You can’t fight the fight against anti-Semitism without fighting against bigotry,” and “You cannot ask people to stand with you unless you are ready to stand with them.”
These statements may at first sound good, but upon reflection they convey a superficial moral symbolism that deflects from the real problem at hand. If other groups, such as Blacks, gays and women, can fight the hatred directed against them without taking on “hatred” in general, why then do you expend the precious resources of our tiny Jewish community to fight bigotry against every group, including 1.5 billion Muslims?   In any case, why does standing up against anti-Muslim bigotry mean that ADL has to shy away from standing against anti-Jewish bigotry by Muslims?
There is a major documentary film, “Unmasked: Judeophobia,” that is in the process of being released for public viewing. More than 30 scholars, policy makers and rabbis – including Eli Weisel and Alan Dershowitz —  soberly and compellingly describe the overarching danger of Islamic anti-Semitism. It is clear after watching this film that ADL’s failure as our first line of defense in aggressively countering Muslim Jew-hatred is a problem that can no longer be ignored.  We would urge, as a first step, that ADL take a major role in disseminating to Jewish communities across the country the message of this film. Or, better yet, the film itself.
Others and I have written and spoken about ADL’s relative neglect of this issue for several years, and your public response has been to deny the claim that ADL is ignoring this vital matter. However, the data in the just-released study is compelling and shows otherwise.
We feel that the Jewish community deserves to know how to weigh the threats against them. We strongly advocate that ADL return to its basic and primary mission: “To Stop the Defamation of the Jewish People.”
Today more than ever, Jews need an effective and assertive ADL, with strong leadership that can fulfill the organization’s obligation and commitment to its donors and constituents. There are many reasons to vacillate, to temporize, to appease in the face of evil. But none of them is ever any good.

Charles Jacobs

Charles Jacobs is president  of Americans for Peace and Tolerance in Boston.

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