The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) is one of the oldest civil rights organizations in America and Abe Foxman has been its public face for over 20 years now. The ADL bills itself as the “nations premier civil rights/human relations agency” and states that it “fights Anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”
These are lofty goals and one must recognize the contribution that the ADL has made to civil rights both in legislation and advocacy over the years. This is the reason why Abe Foxman’s comments in support of the new Israeli administration led by Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are all the more troubling.
He implies that he is not troubled by the ascension of Avigdor Lieberman who has been described by many in Israel as a fascist because of his desire to make all Israelis take loyalty oaths and if they do not comply have their citizenship revoked. As we reported previously Lieberman was a member of the Kach party which was inspired and created by the late terrorist Meir Kahane.
All of these facts should have raised red flags for Foxman but in a piece titled Lieberman loyalty proposal finds support in U.S., Ben Harris writes,
the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that is quick to spot instances of discrimination, says Lieberman is right to be concerned about apparent acts of disloyalty by Israeli Arabs.
Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, noted with concern the trips by Arab Israeli Knesset members to enemy states and expressions of solidarity with Hamas by Israeli Arabs during Israel’s recent military operation in the Gaza Strip.
“There were a lot of people who said, ‘Hey, that’s disloyal,’ ” Foxman told JTA. “That’s what he’s talking about. He’s not saying expel them. He’s not saying punish them.”
This is a very troubling justification for Lieberman’s agenda and a convenient glossing over of the
facts. It is ironic considering that this is a similar accusation that was leveled against Jews in Europe at which time their loyalty was also called into question. It is a slippery slope when anyone brings up the card of “loyalty,” it leads one to ask who defines loyalty to a state? Is any criticism of the state considered disloyal? When many Israelis, Arabs and Jews protested against the Gaza offensive they were called disloyal, is this the type of action that merits a program to test the loyalty of a nation’s citizens?
Lieberman and his party define disloyalty by what you wear amongst other things,
If you are an Arab student and dare come to school wearing a kefiyah, you are ‘disloyal.’ He has called for the expulsion of Arab Members of the Knesset, threatening them that “a new administration will be established and then we will take care of you. He led the drive in Israel’s Central Election Committee to have Arab political parties banned from running in the most recent election, which passed successfully and was overturned only by the Israeli Supreme Court”
Abe Foxman should have known better, instead of siding with a fascist with a murky past and a penchant for radical and hateful statements such as Lieberman he should have held fast to the stated goals of the ADL to “defend Democratic ideals,” instead his actions undermined them and put into question ADL’s commitment to Democratic values.