Biggest Jewish Defense Agency a Massive Failure

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is the largest and most important Jewish defense agency in the nation. Its mission is to defend Jews against anti-Semitism. But though ADL’s head, Abe Foxman has repeatedly said that Islamic animus toward Jews is the biggest threat faced by world Jewry, his multi-million dollar agency has done next to nothing to counter it.

My research group today released an empirical study of ADL’s press releases over a 15 year period, documenting ADL’s inaction on Muslim anti-Semitism. I enclosed it in a open letter sent to Abe Foxman today.

Open Letter to Abe Foxman, National Director ADL

Dear Abe,

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, the murderers of prophets and the enemies of Islam. This poison has reached beyond Muslim lands and into Europe where Jews and Jewish institutions have become under increasing physical assault. It has also reached onto American shores, and radical Muslim leaders here teach American Muslims to hate Jews. Muslims have targeted and murdered Jews in America and mounted many plots to attack Jewish institutions. As you have said, nothing is now more 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. Nor has the ADL developed a strategy or even a campaign to adequately address it.

Indeed, as our recently completed study– at— shows, over the last 15 years, fewer than 8% of ADL press releases address Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism and terrorism. And in recent years, as the problem grows, ADL generates even fewer press releases on the matter.

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.”

While these statements may at first sound and feel good, upon reflection they seem more like posturing, and they convey a superficial moral symbolism. If Blacks and gays and women can fight the hatred directed against them without taking on “hatred” in general, why are you diverting 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? And how do you come to the idea that Muslims will stand up for Jews because, or only when, Jews stand up for them?

In the soon-to-be-released major documentary, “Unmasked: Judeophobia,” over 30 scholars, policy makers and rabbis soberly and compellingly describe the clear and present danger of Islamic anti-Semitism. ADL’s failure to aggressively counter Muslim Jew-hatred is a problem that can no longer be ignored.

I and others have written and spoken about this for several years. Your public response this has been to deny the claim that ADL is being negligent on this vital matter. The data in the just-released study shows otherwise. The Jewish community deserves to know what percent of the ADL budget is devoted to what you described as the “largest threat faced today by world Jewry.” The Board, which is ultimately responsible for ADL operations, needs to focus on their 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 mission and commitment to its donors and constituents. There are many reasons to vacillate, to temporize, to appease. None of them are ever any good.

Dr. Charles Jacobs, named by The Forward as one of America’s 50 top Jewish leaders, was co-founder of Boston’s CAMERA, and The David Project. He is now President of the American Anti-Slavery Group and Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Jacobs is also a journalist and commentator and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, NBC, PBS and others. He was given Boston’s first Boston’s Freedom Award by Coretta Scott King for helping free slaves in Sudan.


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