2007.08.16 -- Watertown Tab: Letter To the Editor

08/16 -- Watertown can teach tolerance without ADL

A debt of gratitude is owed Watertown’s Armenian community for spotlighting the duplicity of the Anti-Defamation League in its sponsorship of the “No Place for Hate” program. Most would agree there is no problem with the program; it’s the sponsor that’s the problem.

While the ADL and its NPFH program purports to promote understanding and respect, in actuality the ADL has taken upon itself the prerogative to determine in what context the words “holocaust” and “genocide” can be used, and by whom, and defames anyone who dares criticize Israel or expresses views and analyses of the Israel/Palestine conflict that the ADL construes as pro-Palestinian.
A few cases in point:

Abraham Foxman, national ADL director, while stopping short of calling President Carter an anti-Semite, has stated that in his book, Palestine: Peace No Apartheid, Carter is “engaging in anti-Semitism.”

The ADL has condemned as “bordering on anti-Semitism” recommendations made by the New England branch of the United Methodist Church for selective divestment from companies identified as supporting the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

Foxman accused United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan of “blatant one-sidedness” in his comments about Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yet, according to a correspondent for Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper), Kofi Annan had been very balanced in his comments, for example calling on “Hezbollah to stop its deliberate targeting of Israeli population centers.”

The ADL called on delegates to the American Library Association’s “to rescind a biased, anti-Israel resolution” — On the Destruction of Palestinian Libraries, Archives, and Other Cultural Institutions.

Andrew Tarsy, director of the ADL’s New England region, in an op-ed piece published in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, called Wheels of Justice (a pro-Palestinian group invited to present at Andover High School) “anti-Israel extremists.”

The ADL branded Ralph Nader a “bigot” for suggesting that the U.S. should proceed in a new direction regarding the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

Foxman demanded that Congressperson Charles Rangel, D-New York, apologize for his comments that compared the silence of the public on the Iraq war and the silence of the world during the Holocaust. Reminiscent of the Armenian genocide debate, Rangel responded: “Why does Foxman have nothing to say when I compare the silence over the war in Iraq with the silence of the world during the genocides in Yugoslavia, in Rwanda or in the Sudan? This is not a game of words. … It is about man’s inhumanity to man wherever it occurs.”

When the ADL was founded, anti-Semitism was commonplace and accepted. There was indeed need for an organization and program to counter such bigotry. The ADL was also a force against prejudice during the civil rights movement.

Unfortunately, in the last 30 years, the ADL has used its formidable resources to stifle debate about U.S. policy towards Israel, while defaming anyone who dares question ADL positions. For example, see American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1999. Because of ADL labeling tactics, segments of our society, including the Arab and Muslim community and Jewish peace activists, have been condemned in a climate of suspicion reminiscent of the McCarthy era.

I believe Watertown should sever its relationship with the ADL and its NPFH program. The Watertown community includes dedicated and creative citizens who can develop our own program, one that truly embraces diversity and respects differences of opinion.

Lois Mastrangelo
School Street