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#139 15-10-2013 02:16:26

Dejuificator II
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Registered: 03-03-2011
Posts: 552

Re: Leo Frank and the Birth of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

Why I'm Leaving After 25 Years

The ADL Pushes ”Tolerance”?

Why I’m leaving after 25 years


inspector.jpg

Foxman never tires
in his search for
‘hate’ — real or
imagined

By Carl Pearlston

http://www.jewishworldreview.com – MY love affair with the ADL began almost 25 years ago. It has just ended with a curt note from the Board President advising me that I haven’t shown a sufficient “demonstration of commitment to the ADL” to warrant retention on the Executive Committee or the Regional Board.” How did it come to this?

I had been nominated to the Board by a judge with whom I had worked during the heady civil rights years, and then to the Executive Committee by the head of the Speakers Bureau, for which I was very active. Not that the romance had not been rocky. I had always known that my conservative Republican political views were barely tolerated by my overwhelmingly liberal colleagues, and I was tempted to keep them to myself. We were nominally a non-partisan organization, but our meetings frequently felt uncomfortably like those of a Democratic Party club in which it was assumed that all shared a common liberal or “progressive” political worldview and none could, or wanted to, hear a differing viewpoint.

Just after the recent presidential election, our Director accosted me at a meeting with a vehement “You stole the election!” Our positions were usually those of the liberal wing of the Democratic party on issues like abortion, school choice, teacher pay, bilingual education, affirmative action, the homosexual agenda, gun control.

I once cited the comprehensive study by Yale University Law School’s Dr. John Lott on gun laws to the effect that in those states where people could legally carry concealed weapons, crimes against people actually declined, since criminals do not want to take a chance that their victim may be armed. I was met with the sarcastic and dismissive response that “Only John Lott, [talk show host and JWR columnist] Larry Elder and you believe in that study.”

There was not a great tolerance for diversity of viewpoint nor introduction of new information. I was barred from distributing written material which was germane and relevant to issues under discussion; only material from staff could be disseminated. To be fair, a member did once tell me that at least I kept them honest — i.e. they were forced to at least be exposed to — even if not to consider, a different view.

But, it was an uphill struggle.

When I once confessed to our National Director, Abe Foxman, my feelings of just spinning my wheels, he candidly told me that I would have to realize that over 95% of those involved in the ADL were liberal and would be unsympathetic to my conservative views.

DEMONIZING EXPONENTS OF JEWISH VALUES

Lack of sympathy frequently translated into lack of civility. For example, at several meetings, there were objections that Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s radio program and planned TV program was offensive and insensitive to homosexuals. I pointed out that her views enunciate traditional Jewish values which deserve the support of a Jewish defense organization, and was greeted with derision and intemperate, hostile responses. When it came to the issue of homosexuals versus the Boy Scouts, ADL chose the homosexuals, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Then, in its otherwise commendable nationwide partnership with Barnes and Noble in the program Hate Hurts, which sponsors books and educates teachers and young children to fight hate, the ADL endorsed the books Heather Has Two Mommies and Steve Has Two Daddies as suitable tools for teaching tolerance to young children. Teachers’ workshops and children’s reading groups were organized, using these and other books in conjunction with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which had earlier achieved a certain notoriety for its own school workshops wherein teenagers were taught the fine points of “fisting” and other homosexual practices.

TURNING JUDAISM ON ITS HEAD

In this manner, fighting “hate” became a euphemism for an attack on sexual morality, the traditional family, and the Jewish view that children deserve a loving father and mother, not two fathers or two mothers. It is only through a perverse notion of “tolerance” that support for traditional teaching about the family is intimidated, and condemned.

When Dennis Prager participated by invitation in a panel discussion on church-state issues, some members actually hissed and booed his remarks in a hostile display of intolerance. A respected board member persistently repeated to all who would hear that Prager was insane.

When the organization published its harsh attack on the Religious Right in 1994, I was distressed as were many politically conservative Jews who do not share the ADL view that politically-active conservative Christians are our enemy. As (Jewish) syndicated columnist and JWR contributor Mona Charen wrote, “The ADL has committed defamation. There is no other conclusion to be reached after reading its new report, The Religious Right: the Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America. It is sad that an organization with a proud history of fairness should have descended to this kind of character assassination and name calling.”

A Board member of another affiliate was forced to resign because he publicly expressed disagreement with that report. It seems that the term “religious right” is a talisman used to invoke a reflexive response of hostility without thought. So deep was the antagonism that when Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition, appeared at an ADL leadership conference and gave a heartfelt apology for past insensitivity, prejudice, and discrimination by Christians toward Jews, the private response by most members to his apology was hostility and distrust.

CONSTRUCTING A SOLID WALL BETWEEN ‘SYNAGOGUE AND STATE’

There was a particular intolerance on the issue of church-state. The theory that freedom of religion require “strict separation of church and state” was transformed into hostility to any public display of religion in general, to Christianity in particular, and even to Judaism. I do not understand the logic of a Jewish organization expending its time and resources to forbid the public display of the chief gift of the Jews to civilization– The Ten Commandments. Nor does it seem appropriate for us to engage in litigation to forbid another Jewish organization (Chabad) from displaying a Menorah on public property. I was told that such a display would encourage other religious groups, including Moslems, to exercise their right to similar displays.

Well, why shouldn’t they? It is implicit in the meaning of freedom of religious expression and religious diversity, a freedom we have so long struggled to attain for ourselves. It is not in our country’s interest for us to demand a naked public square, devoid of any reference to G-d. Our cramped view of religious expression led us to oppose even the observance of a moment of silence in schools as being likely to encourage prayer.

The issue of parental choice in education, either by tax credits or vouchers, met with unwavering opposition based on what I believe is an erroneously perceived constitutional doctrine of “separation of church and state,” along with a strong commitment to the teacher’s unions. At one meeting, I questioned Abe Foxman as to what the ADL would do in the likely event that the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of school vouchers. He said the ADL would never agree and would continue to press the court until the decision was reversed and the ADL viewpoint was adopted.

“YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT!”

Then, as he passed the table where my wife and I were sitting, he said to me, “You shouldn’t have asked that question.” I then realized that the bloom was really off the romance.

I had always strongly believed in the ADL’s mission, as defined on a banner frequently displayed at the front of our meetings: “… to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike….” Our efforts against anti-Semitism were without peer. We were a Jewish organization primarily concerned with issues affecting the Jewish community, and secondarily with equality and fair enforcement of laws for everyone. I recall that many times in days past we deferred action on an item on the grounds that it was not related to Jewish community, and was thus beyond our purview.

AS ANTI-SEMITISM DECLINES, FINDING A NEW NEED TO EXIST

As years passed, the purview kept increasing along with the budget. While overt, and even latent, anti-Semitism was decreasing, our traditional mission as defender of the Jewish community was expanded to defender of all. We have become just another of many leftist “rights” organizations. This realization was confirmed when I saw a new banner, displaying an unfamiliar mission statement: “…dedicated to translating democratic ideals into a way of life for all Americans in our time.”

This grandiose expansion of mission has had other consequences. The curbing of defamation—an action that has expanded to curbing of hate–a feeling, or emotion, or state of mind. If we can change people’s minds and the way they think, we will not have to control their actions. The program for changing hearts and minds, A World of Difference, was created in 1985 to change prejudiced feelings through “sensitivity training”. It is reportedly very successful, highly commended, and widely used by governmental agencies and many companies.

Unfortunately, my exposure to the program at a leadership conference indicated that teaching the values of diversity, multiculturalism, and cultural relativism resulted in denigrating the values and achievements of Western civilization and the desirability of a common American identity. There is now a nationwide industry of multicultural activists teaching various “sensitivity” programs which increase awareness of racial identity, and result in racial separation and racial hostility.

CREATION OF A ‘CRIME’

This focus on eliminating “hate” logically led to the creation of “hate crimes,” in which, a two-tier system of criminality was created: 1) those who commit crimes of violence for any reason other than hate, and 2) those who do injury solely because they hate the status or class of the victim (race, sex, nationality, religion, disability, occupation, sexual orientation, etc), Criminals of the latter class are punished more severely than those of the former, even though both may commit the same violent crime.

The punishment is levied on the thought, or feeling, or state of mind of the criminal and not the action, in keeping with the emphasis on eliminating and punishing hateful thoughts and feelings. Creating preferred classes of crime victims is not a proper function of the American criminal justice system. Nor does it seem desirable to federalize and supplant state criminal law enforcement, which is what results from enacting “hate crime” legislation at the federal level.

The concept of “hate crimes” inevitably leads to that of “hate speech”, in which offensive, insensitive, or hurtful speech is legally banned, as it is in Canada where the criminal law punishes offensive speech as a form of group defamation. A minister was arrested there for publicly preaching, in accordance with the tenets of his faith, that the practice of homosexuality was immoral.

CHEAPENING THE HOLOCAUST

The ADL has properly rejected repeated demands by some of its leaders for adoption of similar group defamation laws as violating our free speech guarantees. At the same time, the ADL has led the effort to abate hateful speech not only in the public, but even the private forum in the interest of “tolerance”. There have been repeated condemnations of various incidents of speech deemed hateful, hurtful, insensitive, or embarrassing to particular groups. All too frequently, however, free speech and the expression of religious belief have been the targets of these condemnations, such as religious references by political candidates, Christian prayers at the inauguration, religious symbolism in comics, expressions of religious beliefs by sports figures, or even expressions of the politically incorrect, as was the case when conservative activist David Horowitz was condemned as racially insensitive for placing ads in college papers denying the wisdom, fairness, and practicality of the growing movement for Slavery Reparations.

The ADL has illogically compared those ads to ones denying the Holocaust, while ignoring the issue of free speech curtailment in the violent reactions by students and compliant acts by college administrators to censor the ads and prevent intelligent discussion of the significant issue involved.

GIVING UP MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The ADL has always been a firm and loyal supporter of Israel, but it was also an early and naive advocate of the now-defunct Oslo peace process, to the ultimate detriment of actual peace. I frequently complained that we concentrated more on the process than the substance of peace, and that true peace was unlikely to occur since the root problem was not how much land Israel would give up, but Arab refusal to accept a viable Jewish state. All of our “insider” briefings on the Mideast downplayed the risk to Israel posed by an armed Palestinian Authority or Palestinian state, and held out rosy and unrealistic prognostications of peace.

For example, at a leadership conference, we were treated to a talk by an Arab Ambassador urging us to take steps for peace, which translated into urging support for the election of Labor (Peres) over Likud (Netanyahu) in the coming election. It was portrayed, and accepted by many attendees, as a last chance for peace that was almost within our grasp. Most of us now see, in light of the past year’s warfare, that the “peace” being urged was illusory and chimerical. So blinding was this hope for peace that, as reported, ADL had complimented the PA on their new school textbooks without even having read them, completely overlooking the virulent anti-Semitism contained therein. When I questioned our National Director about this, I became the target of attack and public humiliation for bringing up the matter. Nor did I endear myself by dwelling on our National Director’s central role on behalf of the ADL in devising and wangling a pardon for criminal fugitive tax-evader Marc Rich.

When I expressed my views on some of these matters in various letters and articles, in which I was not identified as an ADL Board member, I was rebuked in a stern letter from our President advising that I had publicly taken positions contrary to ADL policy, which was not permitted. I had not realized that, as the price of Board membership, I had given up my freedom of speech on issues on which the ADL had taken a position.

This was much like the old Leninist doctrine of “democratic centralism”, in which debate is allowed only before a policy is adopted, and no dissent is tolerated thereafter. It seems odd that an organization which boastfully espouses and teaches “tolerance” and “diversity”, will not tolerate a bit of dissent and diverse viewpoint in its own lay leadership.

Carl Pearlston, a national board member of Toward Tradition, writes from California. Comment by clicking here.


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#140 15-10-2013 02:17:04

Dejuificator II
Maîtres Ascensionnés V.I.P
Registered: 03-03-2011
Posts: 552

Re: Leo Frank and the Birth of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

June 3, 2005

Witch Hunt at Columbia
Targeting the University

By JOSEPH MASSAD

Targeting the university is the latest mission of right-wing forces who have hijacked not only political power and political discourse in the United States but also the very vocabulary that can be used against them. The campaign of the last three years or so to attack US universities as the last bastion where a measure of freedom of thought is still protected is engineered to cancel out such freedom and ensure that scholars will not subvert the received political wisdom of the day.

Some of the major tactics in this campaign have been the launching of witch hunts against specific professors, calling for their dismissal from their jobs, and, failing that, smear their reputation; target Middle East Studies as a scholarly field more generally and cut federal funding to it and place it under governmental supervision, and promote apologists for Israel in the guise of scholars as the only adequate scholarly alternative. While shutting down the educational process in favour of religious theories of creationism and the like has been around for a while, the recent attack on scholars who disagree with US foreign policy and the policies of the state of Israel are the main mobilisational issues of the current campaign.

What is at stake in this assault is not only academic freedom, but scholarship per se, and specifically scholarship on Palestine and Israel, which is the primary target of the witch-hunters.

What makes these anti-scholarship attacks possible and popular is the existence of a major discrepancy, even a radical disconnect, between popular knowledge and media coverage about the Palestine/Israel conundrum and established scholarly knowledge about the topic. It is this disconnect that the witch hunters mobilise against scholarship as proof that it is not media and popular knowledge, which defends Israeli policy and Zionism’s axioms, that is ideological, but rather academic scholarship which has largely uncovered unsavory facts about both. Thus when young American students who come from ideologically charged homes, schools, and environments, attend university classes about the subject, they mistake established scholarship as pro- Palestinian propaganda, a conclusion that is propped up by the likes of Campus Watch, the David Project, and the Anti- Defamation League, all three organisations who make it part or all their business to attack scholarly criticisms of Israeli policy.

Let me provide a few examples of what I mean. All respected scholars in the field agree that most or all Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 were expelled directly or indirectly by Israel. The debate that exists is about whether all Palestinian refugees were physically expelled by the Israeli army or that the Israeli army expelled the majority while a minority of refugees fled, not as a direct result of physical force but as an indirect consequence of actions taken by the Israeli army and government which might, or might not, have been deliberately intended to expel them. In contrast, media and popular ideological knowledge in the US still insists that the Palestinians fled on their own, or worse, were called upon to do so by Arab leaders (despite Israeli false claims that Arab leaders called on Palestinians to flee, research has shown that they called upon them to remain steadfast in their homeland) while the Zionists begged them to stay!

Established scholarship enumerates all the racist laws and institutional racist practices in operation in Israel which discriminate between Jews and non-Jews, granting Jews differential rights and privileges over non-Jews, and rendering Israel a racist state by law. Popular and media knowledge, in contrast, depict Israel as a democratic liberal state that treats all its citizens equally. It is also established in scholarship that Israel discriminates against non-European Jews (the majority of the country’s Jewish population) and also against recent Russian Jewish immigrants, and has engaged and continues to engage in a racist discourse about them and in unofficial institutional discrimination against them (witness the most recent case of discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in admissions to Israeli universities). In contrast, popular and media knowledge depicts Israel as a place where all Jews are equal. Scholarly knowledge addresses the question of Israel as a quasi-theological state, where religious law governs major aspects of Jewish life and that only Orthodox Judaism is allowed to have religious authority over Jewish citizens to the exclusion of Reform and Conservative Judaism, let alone other Jewish denominations. In contrast, media and popular knowledge depict Israel as a secular state. These are only a few examples of how scholarly knowledge is drastically different from and contradicts media and popular knowledge about key issues regarding Israeli society and history.

Israel’s apologists and right-wing witch- hunters aim to establish this popular and media “knowledge”, which echo the official positions of the State of Israel and its US lobby, as “scholarly” and dismiss academic scholarship as ideology. It is in this context that many of the organisations and individuals attacking me are under the false impression that what I teach in my classes is a “Palestinian” perspective or narrative. In fact, at the risk of engaging my fanatical critics, whose outrageous claims and inventions should not be given any legitimacy, I do no such thing. In my class on the topic, I teach academic scholarship on Palestine and Israel, which is precisely why the witch- hunters want Columbia to fire me.

As academic knowledge is of no interest to these ideologues, they have marshalled all their resources to transform the university into a mouthpiece for Israeli propaganda. They have recently been joined by The New York Times who, in an editorial on 7 April, called on Columbia University to monitor the classroom for “pro-Palestinian” bias. The Times ‘ editors asserted that the (illegitimate) investigative panel that Columbia University convened as part of its own intimidation of its own professors failed to examine the real allegations of pro-Israel students who are allied with pro-Israeli lobbying groups outside the university. These allegations speak of stridently pro- Palestinian, anti-Israeli bias on the part of several professors. The panel had no mandate to examine the quality and fairness of teaching. That leaves the university to follow up on complaints about politicised courses and a lack of scholarly rigour as part of its effort to upgrade the department. One can only hope that Columbia will proceed with more determination and care than it has heretofore.

What the Times ‘ editors mean is that it is incumbent upon Columbia University to bring scholarly knowledge transmitted in its classrooms in line with Israeli propaganda, which the New York Times itself has never found too difficult to disseminate as objective truth anyway. Indeed, Ethan Bronner, the Times’ deputy foreign editor, was quoted in an article on 24 April asserting that as far as United Nations Security Council resolutions on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict are concerned, the newspaper editors “view ourselves as neutral and unbound by such judgements. We cite them, but we do not live by them.” If the Times can ignore so casually UN decisions as unbinding, why shouldn’t scholars do the same? Indeed why shouldn’t Columbia University do the same? The fact that for now at least, Columbia’s administration has not taken steps to monitor the politics of scholarship should not reassure us. Aside from his commitment to the pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian line espoused by the New York Times and manifest in many of his own public statements, Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, has spoken about his concern of a lack of “balance” and the presence of “bias” in some classes on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict taught at Columbia, which he intends to rectify. He even expressed concern that Columbia scholars of the Middle East do not seem to explain “the relationship… between the environmental facts of life in the Middle East and Asia, or its diseases, and the culture there?” Columbia may soon hire Middle East scholars who will attempt to answer this important question!

The production of academic knowledge in American universities was never separable from the overall social, political, and economic requirements of the American state. Links between the university and state policy and the interests of the private sector have a long history and are structurally built into the research agenda of universities, most importantly through the mechanism of funding. I still remember how as an undergraduate in the US, I was always baffled by political scientists who would ridicule Soviet academic scholarship as lacking “independence” due to its being beholden to an agenda set and funded by the Soviet state, while being proud of their own scholarship and discipline, which was hardly “independent” of US government funding as well as funding from the private sector which most often drove US state interests. Despite these structural limitations, however, there remained an important and crucial space in the university where serious scholarship could be produced and which scholars have utilised to produce their work.

This is not to say that scholarship is unbiased. On the contrary, all respectable scholarship about Nazi Germany and the holocaust, to take an important example, is indeed biased against the Nazis, but no one except anti-Semites would dare equate scholarly judgment of Nazi Germany and the holocaust as the “Jewish” perspective or narrative. The same applies to scholarship about South Africa under Apartheid, which is never described as the “Black” perspective or narrative. Feminist scholarship is equally biased against sexism, but is not labelled as “women’s” narrative or perspective. Scholarship on Stalin, on US slavery, on British colonialism, on American racism, on institutionalised sexism and discrimination against women, etc, is always biased, and no amount of lobbying from right-wing groups will force academics to teach the Nazi or slavery perspectives in the interest of “balance.” It is this scholarly space that the university enshrines which the neo- conservative culture commissars want to close off. To do so, what better place to create consensus than the Palestine/Israel conflict on which there is total US cultural agreement echoed by the mainstream and the right-wing and left-wing press. If Fox news and CNN and ABC news can agree on the “facts” surrounding Israel and its policies, as do the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Daily News, and the New York Sun, then surely critical scholarship on this question will find little popular support. In this regard you can have a civil libertarian Zionist like the Village Voice ‘s Nat Hentoff, liberal Zionist apologists like the Nation magazine, and the New York Sun and the New York Post, join hands to discredit scholars on Palestine and Israel as “dogmatic”, “uncompromising,” “strident” and the like. Ostensible civil libertarian and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has not only joined the campaign in writing for the press, but also by lecturing at Columbia University against “pro- Palestinian” professors whom he accused of supporting terrorism. Luckily, Dershowitz did not advise Columbia on the types of legal torture that it could mete out to “guilty” professors.

This is not to say that there is no disagreement among the members of this unholy alliance. There is. Such disagreement revolves on the division between “good” Arabs and “bad” Arabs. This is not new but harks back to the emergence of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat as the first “good” Arab to be rescued from the lot in the American media. Since then, while the right-wing has had no truck with these divisions, as all Arabs are “bad,” as far as it is concerned, the mainstream and the “left” very much dabble in this division. Thus, Arabs who are seen as “moderate” and who are seen as speaking a language that does not challenge all the received wisdom on Israel are considered “good,” while those who are seen as exposing the hypocrisy of liberal apologists for Israel are “bad” and are described as “extremists.” This is an important strategy for liberal Zionists, as it achieves two important goals: it avoids and pre-empts the accusation of anti-Arab racism while encouraging “moderation” among Arab scholars by offering them much needed public and media praise. Thus, I was recently faulted by the reporter of the left- liberal Nation magazine for daring to call Israel a racist state, even though I base my accurate description of the country on its myriad racist laws that discriminate between Jews and non-Jews, and that grant Jews rights and privileges that are denied to non-Jews. Such laws include the law of return (1950), the law of absentee property (1950), the law of the state’s property (1951), the law of citizenship (1952), the status law (1952), the Israel lands administration law (1960), the construction and building law (1965), among others. What the Nation and Nat Hentoff find objectionable in my characterisation of Israel as racist is that it contradicts media and popular knowledge about Israel, which is the only acceptable measure of knowledge of the country in the US media. Herein lies their complicity with the rightwing on rejecting academic scholarship on Israel. The Nation and Hentoff, among others, made sure to contrast me with other “moderate” Arab scholars whom they praise and do not dismiss.

By using the popular and media consensus on Palestine/Israel as its entry point for the dismantling of the university and its cardinal principle of academic freedom, the pro-Israel lobbyists were able to find allies in the university administration, among the faculty, and certainly among students. Even though the main target of the witch-hunters is academic scholarship on Palestine and Israel, which they want to delegitimise fully as a scholarly endeavour, in favour of accepting the official Israeli government’s representation of itself as academic truth, their efforts have mushroomed into an all out attack on the concept of academic freedom, and the very institution of the University. Their strategy, however, has backfired, as faculty quickly realised that the attack would indeed touch on the very nature of university pedagogy and the production of scholarly knowledge. In this regard, Columbia’s faculty and other faculties around the country have begun to mobilise against these enemies of academic freedom. These enemies of academic freedom do not only threaten junior faculty but all classroom settings and all scholarship.

In light of the organised power and influence of the witch-hunters, the task before academics is not only to continue to insist on writing and producing scholarship about Palestine and Israel, which will continue to expose the true nature of the Israeli state and its oppressive policies, but to defend the scholarly endeavour itself, which can only be ensured if the institution of the university is maintained as a space where academic freedom is upheld. The university, with all its limitations, is one of the few remaining spaces, if not the only remaining one, where critical intellectuals can still live the life of the mind. What the witch- hunters want us to do is to live the life of servitude to state power, as technocrats and as ideologues. This we refuse to do.

Joseph Massad is assistant professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University.

This article originally appeared in Al-Ahram.

Last edited by DejuificatorII (15-10-2013 02:17:39)


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