On Monday, Feb. 10, the Anti-Defatmation League announced that its long-time national director Abraham H. Foxman will step down from his position on July 20, 2015.
“For almost five decades, ADL offered me the perfect vehicle to live a life of purpose both in standing up on behalf of the Jewish people to ensure that what happened during World War II would never happen again and in fighting bigotry and all forms of oppression,” Foxman said.
“My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as National Director, could not have been more rewarding. ADL continued its growth as a highly respected and influential organization both here in the United States and across the globe. We have never lost sight of the fact that we are an organization whose first priority is to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people. I’m proud of all that we have accomplished.”
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden as a child during the war, and who later immigrated to America with his parents, began his career with the ADL in 1965 after graduating from the City College of the City University of New York and New York University School of Law.
In 1987, Foxman was tapped as the ADL’s National Director. During his tenure, the ADL grew to include 30 regional offices in the U.S. as well as an office in Israel. The League celebrated its centennial year in 2013.
Foxman announced his retirement to members of the League’s National Executive Committee during its annual meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, and shortly thereafter in a letter to members of ADL’s National Commission.
The ADL has instituted a Succession Committee which will be conducting an extensive nationwide executive search for Foxman’s successor.
The ADL is one of the biggest and most powerful American Jewish organizations. Its early mandate was fighting discrimination against Jews, but in later years it weighed in on matters pertaining to Israel, and also to other forms of perceived discrimination, including what it calls “Islamophobia.”
Charles Jacobs, another long-time leader of the American Jewish community, expressed his disappointment at the direction in which the ADL, under Foxman, traveled in recent years.
“When Abe Foxman began his career at the ADL, the greatest threats to the Jewish people were neo-Nazis and the unreconstructed Christian anti-Semites. But in more recent years, as Foxman himself would sometimes tell reporters, the greatest threat to the Jewish people is now Islamic anti-Semitism. This, along with leftist anti-Zionism constitute ‘the new anti-Semitism.’ Tragically, Foxman failed to pivot to meet those threats both in terms of his personal energy as well as the vast resources of his organization,” Jacobs told The Jewish Press by telephone on Monday evening.
“When we started the Boston branch of CAMERA [the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America], we wanted the ADL to take the lead against anti-Israel bias in the media. He declined. Instead, Foxman led the ADL towards a politically correct universalism, using Jewish resources to address general liberal concerns, and waging campaigns against general human nastiness, like bullying, and misleading Jews about the situation we actually are in.
“Rather than leading the largest Jewish defense agency against the most daunting of our adversaries, Foxman frittered on the sidelines despite knowing exactly who and where the dangers lie,” Jacobs added. “I hope the next national director does a better job,” he concluded.
Effective July 20, 2015, Foxman will become ADL Director Emeritus. He will serve on both the ADL National Commission and the ADL National Executive Committee in addition to serving in a part-time consultancy.