09/20 Arlington Advocate: Group opposes ADL involvement

Group opposes ADL involvement
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 silenced.”

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?

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/arlington/opinion/x1681067681