The Anti-Defamation League (ADL; formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith) is an international Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States. The ADL states that its mission is to "[fight] anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, [defend] democratic ideals, and [defend] civil rights for all", doing so through "information, education, legislation, and advocacy".[failed verification]
Founded in late September 1913 by the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish service organization in the United States, its original mission statement was "to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people." The ADL has stated that its primary purpose is "to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike, and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens." The ADL has 29 offices in the United States and three offices in other countries, with its headquarters located in New York City. Abraham Foxman was the national director from 1987 for more than a quarter century. In November 2014, it was announced that Jonathan Greenblatt would succeed Foxman as national director in July 2015. The national chair is Barry Curtiss-Lusher.
The ADL has faced criticism for its support for Israel, charges of defamation, spying allegations, its former stance on the Armenian Genocide, and possible conflation of opposition to Israel with antisemitism.
The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.
The Anti-Defamation League was founded by B'nai B'rith as a response to attacks on Jews; the recent conviction of Leo Frank was mentioned by Adolf Kraus when he announced the creation of the ADL.
The stated purpose of the ADL is to fight:
anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry (in the United States) and abroad, combat international terrorism, probe the roots of hatred, advocate before the United States Congress, come to the aid of victims of bigotry, develop educational programs, and serve as a public resource for government, media, law enforcement, and the public, all towards the goal of countering and reducing hatred.
Historically, the ADL has opposed groups and individuals it considered to be anti-Semitic and/or racist, including: Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin (leader of the Christian Front), the Christian Identity movement, the German-American Bund, neo-Nazis, the American militia movement and white power skinheads (although the ADL acknowledges that there are also non-racist skinheads). The ADL publishes reports on a variety of countries, regarding alleged incidents of anti-Jewish attacks and propaganda.
Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism. Certainly the sovereign State of Israel can be legitimately criticized just like any other country in the world. However, it is undeniable that there are those whose criticism of Israel or of "Zionism" is used to mask anti-Semitism.
Since 2010, the ADL has published a list of the "ten leading organizations responsible for maligning Israel in the US", which has included ANSWER, the International Solidarity Movement, and Jewish Voice for Peace for its call for BDS.
One of the ADL's major focuses is religious freedom for people of all faiths. In the context of public schools, the ADL has taken the position that because creationism and intelligent design are religious beliefs, and the government is prohibited from endorsing the beliefs of any particular religion, they should not be taught in science classrooms: "The U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to believe the religious theories of creation (as well as other theories), but it does not permit them to be taught in public school science classes." Similarly, the ADL supports the legal precedent that it is unconstitutional for the government to post the Ten Commandments in courthouses, schools, and other public places: "True religious liberty means freedom from having the government impose the religion of the majority on all citizens." The ADL has also condemned the public school Bible curriculum published by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, saying that it raises "serious constitutional problems" and "advocates the acceptance of one faith tradition's interpretation of the Bible over another". The ADL opposed Proposition 8 and supported the Matthew Shepard Act.
During the 1930s, the ADL, along with the American Jewish Committee, coordinated American Jewish groups across the country in monitoring the activities of the German-American Bund and its pro-Nazis, nativist allies in the United States. In many instances, these community-based defense organizations paid informants to infiltrate these groups and report on what they discovered. The longest-lived and most effective of these American Jewish resistance organizations was the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (LAJCC), which was backed financially by the Jewish leaders of the motion picture industry. The day-to-day operations of the LAJCC were supervised by a Jewish attorney, Leon L. Lewis. Lewis was uniquely qualified to combat the rise of Nazism in Los Angeles, having served as the first national secretary of the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago from 1925-1931. From 1934-1941, the LAJCC maintained its undercover surveillance of the German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts and dozens of other pro-Nazi, nativist groups that operated in Los Angeles. Partnering with the American Legion in Los Angeles, the LAJCC channeled eyewitness accounts of sedition onto federal authorities. Working with the ADL, Leon Lewis and the LAJCC played a strategic role in counseling the McCormack-Dickstein Committee investigation of Nazi propaganda activities in the United States (1934) and the Dies Committee investigation of "un-American activities" (1938-1940). In their final reports to Congress, both Committees found that the sudden rise in political antisemitism in the United States during the decade was due, in part, to the German government's support of these domestic groups.
The ADL keeps track of the activities of various extremist groups and movements. According to ADL Director Abe Foxman, "Our mission is to monitor and expose those who are anti-Jewish, racist, anti-democratic, and violence-prone, and we monitor them primarily by reading publications and attending public meetings …. Because extremist organizations are highly secretive, sometimes ADL can learn of their activities only by using undercover sources … [who] function in a manner directly analogous to investigative journalists. Some have performed great service to the American people—for example, by uncovering the existence of right-wing extremist paramilitary training camps—with no recognition and at considerable personal risk." A person apprehended in connection to the 2002 white supremacist terror plot had drawn a cartoon of himself blowing up the Boston offices of the ADL.
The ADL regularly releases reports on anti-Semitism and extremist activities on both the far left and the far right. For instance, as part of its Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.), the ADL has published information about the Militia Movement in America and a guide for law enforcement officials titled Officer Safety and Extremists. An archive of "The Militia Watchdog" research on U.S. right-wing extremism (including groups not specifically cited as anti-Semitic) from 1995 to 2000 is also available on the ADL website.
In the 1990s, some details of the ADL's monitoring activities became public and controversial, including the fact that the ADL had gathered information about some non-extremist groups. In 2013, J.M. Berger, a former nonresident fellow of the Brookings Institution, wrote that media organizations should be more cautious when citing the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and ADL, arguing that they are "not objective purveyors of data".
The ADL holds that it is important to remember the Holocaust, in order to prevent such an event from reoccurring. Along with sponsoring events and fighting Holocaust deniers and revisionists, the ADL has been active in urging action to stop modern-day ethnic cleansing and genocide in places such as Bosnia, Darfur, and Sudan.
The ADL spoke out against an advertising campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) beginning in 2003 that equated meat-eating with the Holocaust. A press release from the ADL stated that, "PETA's effort to seek 'approval' for their 'Holocaust on Your Plate' campaign is outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights. Rather than deepen our revulsion against what the Nazis did to the Jews, the project will undermine the struggle to understand the Holocaust and to find ways to make sure such catastrophes never happen again." In May 2005, PETA apologized for its campaign, with PETA President Ingrid Newkirk stating that causing pain "was never our intention, and we are deeply sorry".
The ADL supports Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The organization vociferously opposed the 1975 United Nations resolution (revoked in 1991) which equated Zionism with racism, and attempts to revive that formulation at the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The ADL also has expressed concern over Israeli legislative proposals that would stifle freedom of expression and undermine Israeli democracy.
In 2006, the ADL condemned Senate Republicans in the United States for attempting to ban same-sex marriage with the Federal Marriage Amendment, and called the proposal discriminatory. That same year, the ADL warned that the debate over illegal immigration was drawing neo-nazis and anti-Semites into the ranks of the Minutemen Project.
In 1974, ADL national leaders Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein published a book called The New Anti-Semitism (New York, 1974), arguing that a new kind of anti-Semitism is on the rise. In 1982, ADL national leader Nathan Perlmutter and his wife, Ruth Ann Perlmutter, released a book entitled The Real Anti-Semitism in America (New York, 1982). In 2003, ADL's national director Abraham Foxman published Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism (San Francisco, 2003), where, on page 4, he states: "We currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s—if not a greater one."
In 2010, during a hearing for Florida House Bill 11 (Crimes Against Homeless Persons), which was to revise the list of offenses judged to be hate crimes in Florida by adding a person's homeless status, the League lobbied against the bill, which subsequently passed in the House by a vote of 80 to 28 and was sent to the Senate, taking the position that adding more categories to the list would dilute the effectiveness of the law, which already includes race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and age.
When the anti-Mormon film The God Makers (1982) was produced, Rhonda M. Abrams, Central Pacific (San Francisco) Regional Director for the ADL, wrote a critical review, including the following statement:
Had a similar movie been made with either Judaism or Catholicism as its target, it would be immediately denounced for the scurrilous piece that it is. I sincerely hope that people of all faiths will similarly repudiate The Godmakers as defamatory and untrue, and recognize it for what it truly represents - a challenge to the religious liberty of all.
The ADL supports Comprehensive and DREAM Act legislation that would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal aliens of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment.
In 2012, ADL released a statement opposing groups like the Stop Islamization of America and Stop Islamization of Europe, and activists such as Pamela Geller and David Yerushalmi, describing them as "anti-Muslim bigots".
In 1997, the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations of Dillard University, a historically black university in New Orleans, awarded the director of the ADL, Abraham H. Foxman, with its first Annual Martin Luther King, Jr.–Donald R. Mintz Freedom and Justice Award.
In 2004, the ADL became the lead partner in the Peace and Diversity Academy, a new New York City public high school with predominantly black and Hispanic students. In celebration of Black History Month, the ADL created and distributed lesson plans to middle and high school teachers about Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005), the first black woman elected to the US Congress, and an important civil rights leader.
The ADL has also publicly accused certain African Americans of being anti-Semitic:
ADL's New England Regional Office has also established a faith-based initiative called "The Interfaith Youth Leadership Program", better known as "Camp If", or Camp Interfaith. Involving teenagers of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths, the camp brings the teens together for a week at camp where the teens bond and learn about each other's cultures. The camp has emerged as a new attempt to foster good relations between younger members of the Abrahamic faiths.
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In 1996, the ADL settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by groups representing African Americans and Arab Americans, that alleged that the ADL hired agents with police ties to gather information. The ADL did not admit any wrongdoing, but agreed to a restraining injunction barring the ADL from obtaining information from state employees who are forbidden by law to divulge such information. The ADL also agreed to contribute $25,000 to a fund that funds inter-community relationship projects, and cover the plaintiffs' legal costs.
In 2007, Abraham Foxman came under criticism for his stance on the Armenian Genocide. The ADL had previously described it as a "massacre" and an "atrocity", but not as a "genocide". Foxman had earlier opposed calls for the U.S. Government to recognise it as a "genocide". "I don't think congressional action will help reconcile the issue. The resolution takes a position; it comes to a judgement", said Foxman in a statement issued to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn't be the arbiter of that history, nor should the U.S. Congress, and "a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel, and the United States".
In early August 2007, complaints about the Anti-Defamation League's refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide led to Watertown, Massachusetts's, unanimous town council decision to end its participation in the ADL's "No Place for Hate" campaign. (Watertown is known for its Armenian population.) Also in August 2007, an editorial in The Boston Globe criticized the ADL by saying that, "as an organization concerned about human rights, it ought to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenian people during World War I, and criticize Turkish attempts to repress the memory of this historical reality". Then on August 17, 2007, the ADL fired its regional New England director, Andrew H. Tarsy, for breaking ranks with the main organization and for saying that the ADL should recognize the genocide. In an August 21, 2007, press release, the ADL changed its position and acknowledged the genocide, but maintained its opposition to congressional resolutions aimed at recognizing it. Foxman wrote, "the consequences of those actions", by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians, "were indeed tantamount to genocide". The Turkish government condemned the league's statement. Andrew H. Tarsy was rehired by the league on August 27, though he has since chosen to step down from his position.
The national ADL issued a "Statement on the Armenian Genocide" on August 21, 2007. The statement declared, "The consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide." Activists felt that the statement was not a full, unequivocal acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide, because the use of the qualifier "tantamount" was seen as inappropriate, and the use of the word "consequences" was seen as an attempt to circumvent the international legal definition of genocide by avoiding any language that would imply intent, a crucial aspect of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention definition. The ADL convened its national meeting in New York City in early November 2007 at which time the issue of the Armenian Genocide was discussed. Upon conclusion, a one-sentence press statement was issued that, "The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide."
The ADL was criticized by many in the Armenian community including The Armenian Weekly newspaper, in which writer Michael Mensoian stated:
The belated backtracking of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in acknowledging the planned, systematic massacre of 1,500,000 Armenian men, women and children as "…tantamount to genocide…" is discouraging. Tantamount means something is equivalent. If it's equivalent, why avoid using the term? For the ADL to justify its newly adopted statement because the word genocide did not exist at the time indicates a halfhearted attempt to placate Armenians while not offending Turkey. Historians use the term genocide simply because it is the proper term to describe the horrific events that the Ottoman Turkish government unleashed on the Armenian people.
After Foxman's capitulation, the New England ADL pressed the organization's national leadership to support a congressional resolution acknowledging the genocide. After hours of closed-door debate at the annual national meeting in New York, the proposal was ultimately withdrawn. The organization issued a statement saying it would "take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide". The ADL had earlier received direct pressure from the Turkish Foreign ministry. Tarsy submitted his resignation on December 4.
In the subsequent months, some human rights commissions in other Massachusetts communities decided to follow Watertown's lead and withdraw from the ADL's No Place for Hate anti-discrimination program.
On May 13, 2016, Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL's CEO for less than a year, published a blog post in which he wrote "What happened to the Armenian people was unequivocally genocide" and urged the U.S. to take a position recognizing the Armenian genocide.
In 2006, the ADL, in addition to the American Jewish Committee, was criticized by academic Tony Judt for allegedly pressuring the Polish Consulate-General in New York to cancel a scheduled appearance by Judt at Network 20/20, a non-profit organization that rents space from the consulate. In an interview with the New York Sun, Foxman claimed that the group "had nothing to do with the cancellation", insisting that the ADL only called to ask if the event was being sponsored by the Polish government. Polish Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk suggested in an interview with The Washington Post that calls by the ADL and the American Jewish Committee were "exercising a delicate pressure". In reference to the role of the ADL and the American Jewish Committee in organizing the cancellations, Judt told The Washington Post: "This is serious and frightening, and only in America—not in Israel—is this a problem. These are Jewish organizations that believe they should keep people who disagree with them on the Middle East away from anyone who might listen." The ADL denied the charges. According to Foxman, "I think they made the right decision... He's taken the position that Israel shouldn't exist. That puts him on our radar."
In 1994, the ADL became embroiled in a dispute between neighbors in Denver, Colorado. Upon the involvement of the ADL, the petty quarreling of next door neighbors, initially about garden plants and pets, quickly escalated into both civil and criminal court cases involving charges of anti-Semitism, and counter charges of defamation.
Candace and Mitchell Aronson, Jewish next door neighbors of William and Dorothy Quigley, used a Radio Shack police scanner to listen in on the cordless telephone conversations of Mr. and Mrs. Quigley. When the Aronsons heard the Quigleys discuss a campaign to drive them from the neighborhood with "Nazi scare tactics", the Aronsons contacted the Denver office of the ADL. Upon the advice of the ADL, the Aronsons then recorded the Quigley's private telephone conversations. The conversations included discussions of putting pictures of oven doors on the Aronsons' home (a reference to the Holocaust), burning one of the Aronson children, and wishing that the Aronsons had been killed in a suicide bombing. (The Quigleys later indicated that these remarks were not anti-Semitic, and were only intended to be sick humor.) Neither the Aronsons nor the ADL were aware that Congress had amended federal wiretap law which made it illegal to record conversations from a cordless telephone, to transcribe the material and to use the transcriptions for any purpose.
Not knowing about the new federal law, the Aronsons used the tapes as the basis for a federal civil lawsuit against the Quigleys in December 1994. A day later, Saul Rosenthal, Regional Director of the ADL, appeared at a news conference with the Aronsons in which he described their encounter with the Quigleys as "a vicious anti-Semitic campaign", based solely on conversations he and associates had with the Aronsons. Later that day, Mr. Rosenthal expanded on his remarks in an interview on a Denver radio talk show.
Two days later, Jefferson County prosecutors used the tapes as the basis for filing criminal charges against the Quigleys.
The Quigleys became the target of scorn and ridicule. They received threats, and were forced to hire security guards for their home. A package of dog feces was mailed to their house. When they attended church, their priest openly chastised them in his sermon. The family was forced to shop in other towns, to avoid being recognized. Mr. Quigley's career with United Artists suffered serious damage.
Upon investigation, and after assistant district attorney Steven Jensen heard on the tapes the context of Mrs. Quigley's remarks, all charges but one, a misdemeanor traffic violation against Mr. Quigley, were dropped. The district attorney issued two letters of apology to the Quigleys, saying he found no evidence that either had engaged in "anti-Semitic conduct or harassment".
The Quigleys brought a lawsuit against the ADL, Rosenthal, the Aronsons, and two ADL volunteer attorneys. The two attorneys agreed to pay $350,000 to the Quigleys in settlement of their claims. The Quigley settlement with the Aronsons did not involve a cash payment. The Quigleys maintained their action against the ADL and Rosenthal, which was heard in federal court. A federal jury returned a verdict of $10 million in favor of the Quigleys. The ADL appealed.
According to an April 13, 2001, article in The Forward, upon hearing the appeal, a federal judge "lambasted the ADL for labeling a nasty neighborhood feud as an anti-Semitic event" and upheld most of Quigley's $10 million lawsuit for defamation. According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, with accrued interest, the judgment amounted to more than $12 million.
In 1974, ADL national leaders Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein published a book called The New Anti-Semitism (New York, 1974), arguing that a new kind of anti-Semitism is on the rise. In 1982, ADL national leader Nathan Perlmutter and his wife, Ruth Ann Perlmutter, released a book entitled The Real Anti-Semitism in America (New York, 1982). In 2003, ADL's national director Abraham Foxman published Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism (San Francisco, 2003), where on page 4 he states: "We currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s—if not a greater one."
Reviewing Forster and Epstein's work in Commentary, Earl Raab, founding director of the Nathan Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, argued that a "new anti-Semitism" was indeed emerging in America, in the form of opposition to the collective rights of the Jewish people, but he criticized Forster and Epstein for conflating it with anti-Israel bias. Allan Brownfeld writes that Forster and Epstein's new definition of antisemitism trivialized the concept by turning it into "a form of political blackmail" and "a weapon with which to silence any criticism of either Israel or U.S. policy in the Middle East", while Edward S. Shapiro, in "A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II", has written that, "Forster and Epstein implied that the new anti-Semitism was the inability of Gentiles to love Jews and Israel enough".
Norman Finkelstein claims that organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have brought forward charges of new anti-Semitism at various intervals since the 1970s, "not to fight antisemitism, but rather to exploit the historical suffering of Jews in order to immunize Israel against criticism". The Washington Post has noted that the ADL has repeatedly accused Finkelstein of being a "Holocaust denier", and that "these charges have proved baseless".
ADL is an advocate for gun control legislation. The ADL filed amicus briefs in support of challenged gun control legislation in the Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, citing the need to keep guns out of the possession of violent extremists.
Gun rights group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), which espouses the Nazi gun control argument, has been highly critical of the ADL. Foxman has written about the JPFO: "Anti-Semitism has a long and painful history, and the linkage to gun control is a tactic by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership to manipulate the fear of anti-Semitism toward their own end."
On July 28, 2010, the ADL issued a statement in which it expressed opposition to the Park51 Community Center, which sponsors planned to build near the World Trade Center site in New York. The ADL stated, "The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of a Community Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found." The ADL denounced what it saw as bigoted attacks on the project. Foxman opined that some of those who oppose the mosque are "bigots", and that the plan's proponents may have every right to build the mosque at that location. Nevertheless, he said that building the mosque at that site would unnecessarily cause more pain for families of some victims of 9/11.
This opposition to the Community Center led to criticism of the statement from various parties, including one ADL board member, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Rabbi Irwin Kula, columnists Jeffrey Goldberg and Peter Beinart, the Interfaith Alliance, and the Shalom Center. In an interview with The New York Times Abe Foxman published a statement in reaction to criticism. In protest of ADL's stance, CNN host Fareed Zakaria returned the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize the ADL awarded him in 2005. ADL chair Robert G. Sugarman responded to a critical The New York Times editorial writing, "we have publicly taken on those who criticized the mosque in ways that reflected anti-Muslim bigotry or used the controversy for that purpose" and stating that the ADL has combated Islamophobia.
PETA has denied being motivated by anti-Semitism and even mentions on its Web site the humaneness of traditional Jewish slaughtering methods when done properly. However, PETA has a history of controversial campaigns. On May 5, 2005, PETA issued an apology for its "Holocaust on Your Plate" exhibit, which traveled to more than 100 cities. The exhibit compared the treatment of farm animals to that of victims of the Nazi concentration camps. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said she realized that the campaign had caused pain: "This was never our intention, and we are deeply sorry."
La Liga Antidifamación Judía ( ADL ) aseguró hoy que desde que se inició el debate sobre una reforma migratoria integral en Estados Unidos se ha registrado un aumento de los crímenes de odio contra los hispanos. ... Por su parte, el director del Departamento de Asuntos Legales de ADL, Steven Freeman, dijo a Efe que esta organización aboga por una reforma migratoria integral y el Dream Act
The Anti-Defamation League has been an advocate for strong, effective, and sensible gun control legislation.