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For the second time in two weeks the name of Abraham Foxman, the long-serving director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has surfaced in the news in a way that discredits the organization. The first appearance was in connection with an effort to block Professors Mearsheimer and Walt from speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; the second and still more grim appearance is in connection with ADL’s firing of its New England director over his support for recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1914-15. Foxman issued a statement last week in which he essentially said that the Armenians and Turks have a historical problem, and that Jews should keep out in order to preserve Turkish-Israeli relations. In response to a storm of indignant reaction within the Jewish and Armenian communities. Foxman has changed course. His change looks every bit as opportunistic and insincere as his initial stance.
The ADL has a very long and noble tradition, starting with the traumatic case of Leo Frank in Atlanta between 1913-15—a case which ended with Frank being lynched. ADL’s involvement in the civil rights movement in the United States was a glorious moment, and ADL’s battle against anti-semitism, especially abroad, has been important.
I frankly have difficulty understanding what has happened to this organization and to Mr. Foxman. Instead of standing for principle, ADL seems now beholden to an increasingly crass political calculus. The fact that Foxman would compromise on a matter as important as the twentieth century’s first genocide because he feels raising his and his organization’s voice might interfere with Turkish-Israeli relations speaks volumes, and not to his or his organization’s credit. The only solution would appear to be a complete restructuring of the ADL’s leadership, introducing new voices with moral stature and credibility.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Amount paid last fall for a Ford Escort driven by Pope John Paul II:
92 percent of Mexicans are relaxed by a pleasant-smelling bedroom.
Swedish biologists studying coercive mating in mosquitofish discovered that females’ brains get larger as males’ genitals get longer, and male Madagascar hissing cockroaches were found to attract mates with either their enlarged testicles or their enlarged horns.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."