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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:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”