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Anti-democratic Effort to Bar Pro-Israel Voices in UCLA Govt Fails

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

An effort to invalidate the votes of presumably anti-divestment voting students at UCLA who had traveled to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel organizations was defeated on Wednesday, May 21.

That effort was one of two promoted by the aggressively anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine. The other SJP initiative was to ask students wishing to serve in the UCLA student government to sign a pledge that they would not go on such pro-Israel sponsored trips to Israel.

The decision Wednesday rejecting SJP’s effort was issued by the UCLA judicial board. The judicial board was considering a Complaint brought by SJP which claimed that the pro-Israel groups had, essentially, “bought” the students anti-divestment vote by bringing the students to Israel.

The two students whose experiences were under investigation, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, visited Israel on trips sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, respectively, according to the Jewish Journal.

The vote by the undergraduate Judicial Board was 4 – 0, with two abstentions. The vote meant that taking such trips did not constitute a conflict of interest for members of student government. In other words, members of the student government who had been on trips to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel organizations were not required to abstain from voting on matters pertaining to the Middle East, or be barred from participating in student government altogether.

Representatives from local ADL and AJC branches which sponsored the trips to Israel on which Singh and Rogers went were called to present evidence and undergo cross-examination. Both maintained, apparently credibly, that the trips were not a quid pro quo for pro-Israel votes on relevant matters that came before the UCLA student government.

A written opinion will be issued by the judicial board on June 4.

This vote constitutes the latest in a series of stinging defeats for SJP. That organization, heady from a series of successful bullying tactics, hit the wall once Jewish and other pro-Israel students began standing up to the organization’s bullying, over-the-top tactics.

Pro-Israel students at Brooklyn College, Northeastern University, Cornell University and New York University, to name just a few, have defeated anti-Israel efforts by the SJP over the past year.

Unfortunately, the judicial board vote rejecting SJP’s complaint came too late to save Singh’s run for the UCLA student government presidency. It is Singh’s opinion that, although his platform was about increasing mental health resources and efficiency of student government, the SJP’s harping on the issue of Israel helped lead to his defeat by a candidate who took the SJP pledge not to travel to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups.

The SJP initiatives were also supported by the radical pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace.

Suffolk University Defends Honoring Foxman as Commencement Speaker

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Suffolk University has rejected protests from some student groups and has affirmed its selection of Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman as the law school’s commencement speaker.

Foxman, who will step down from his position in July 2015, also will receive an honorary degree at the May 17 graduation ceremony of the private university located in downtown Boston.

More than 800 people signed an online petition criticizing Foxman for his opposition of U.S. congressional recognition of the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians on the eve of World War I as genocide. The petition, initiated by the law school’s chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, states that comments by Foxman on the genocide may make families of students of Armenian descent feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

The petition also cites Foxman’s published comments about racial profiling of Muslims for purposes of national security, and his opposition of the construction of a Muslim Community Center near the site of the former World Trade Center.

In 2007, after coming under fire for not acknowledging the Armenian massacre as genocide, the national ADL organization changed its position, though some in the Armenian community said its language was ambiguous and did not go far enough.

Foxman later wrote, “ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians, and we have referred to those massacres and atrocities as genocide.”

Nonetheless, the issue continues to dog the outspoken leader and cause controversy for the ADL, especially in the Boston area, home to a large Armenian community.

In a statement issued to the Boston Globe, Suffolk University President James McCarthy’s administration praised Foxman for contributions to the organization for nearly 50 years. The statement said the administration has examined the concerns raised by students but that “Foxman’s body of work is well deserving of recognition. . . It is our hope that Mr. Foxman’s personal story as a Holocaust survivor and attorney who has dedicated his life to public service will inspire our graduates as they embark on their professional careers.”

Suffolk has nearly 9,000 full- and part-time students, with 1,500 law students.

Matthew Smith, a member of the school’s Jewish Law Students Association, told JTA he is disappointed “that a small group” has “attempted to create a controversy” over the commencement speaker,” and that he is proud that the university is standing by Foxman.

In an email, Smith, a third-year graduating law student wrote that many members of the Jewish community are alarmed by some of the rhetoric attacking Foxman. “Some supporters of the petition have attacked Foxman for his support of Israel and … inappropriately referenced Foxman’s Jewish heritage,” he wrote. He added: “It is difficult to listen to a student inaccurately label a Holocaust survivor and civil rights leader as a “racist.”

Sammy Nabulsi, president of the Student Bar Association at Suffolk acknowledged that Foxman has done good work in fighting discrimination. But he told the Boston Globe that Foxman’s selection is stirring division among the graduating class.

Nabulsi, who is Muslim-American, told the Globe he is speaking out on behalf of the student body as a whole. “My concern is there’s a very dangerous conversation happening among the graduating class,” he said. He suggested that Foxman would make a more appropriate guest speaker on campus and not a recipient of an honorary degree.

ADL Audit: Rise in Anti-Semitic Assaults but Less Overall Cases

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States decreased by 19 percent in 2013, but physical assaults against Jews nearly doubled, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In its Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, the ADL reported that there 751 incidents in 41 states and Washington, D.C. — one of the lowest numbers since 1979, when the ADL began collecting data. The number of incidents has been steadily declining for the past decade.

The audit includes assault, vandalism and harassment targeting Jews and Jewish property and institutions reported to ADL’s 27 regional offices and the police.

Despite the overall decline, the audit found a “significant” increase in “violent anti-Semitic assaults” — 31 assaults compared to 17 in 2012, although no assault was life threatening or required hospitalization.

“The high number of violent in-your-face assaults is a sobering reminder that, despite the overall decline in anti-Semitic incidents, there is still a subset of Americans who are deeply infected with anti-Semitism and who feel emboldened enough to act out their bigotry,” said ADL’s national director Abraham Foxman.

“In the last decade we have witnessed a significant and encouraging decline in the number and intensity of anti-Semitic acts in America,” he said in a statement. “The falling number of incidents targeting Jews is another indication of just how far we have come in finding full acceptance in society, and it is a reflection of how much progress our country has made in shunning bigotry and hatred.”

The audit attributed the declining number of anti-Semitic incidents to “a relatively quiet year for anti-Israel activity in the public sphere.”

Despite the overall decrease of incidents, the ADL reported increases in several states, including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. The states with the highest number of incidents were those with the largest Jewish populations: New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The ADL does not count critiques of Israel or Zionism as anti-Semitic incidents, unless such criticism invokes “classic anti-Jewish stereotypes or inappropriate Nazi imagery and/or analogies,” the organization said in a news release. It does, however, count “public expressions of anti-Israel sentiments that demonize Jews or create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation for U.S. Jews.”

Obama on Foxman: ‘Abe Is Irreplaceable’

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

President Obama praised Abraham Foxman as “irreplaceable” after the Anti-Defamation League announced the planned retirement of its longtime leader.

“For decades, Abe Foxman has been a tireless voice against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms, always calling us to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House on Tuesday.

The ADL announced Monday that Foxman would retire as its national director in July 2015. Foxman has led the ADL for 27 years.

“Michelle and I wish him well as he prepares to leave the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League — an organization that he built, and led with such passion and persistence,” Obama said in his statement. “Abe is irreplaceable, but the causes that he has dedicated his life to will continue to inspire people in the United States, Israel, and around the world.”

After he steps down, Foxman will serve as a part-time consultant to ADL and sit on the organization’s national commission and national executive committee, the organization said.

Founded in 1913, the ADL fights against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and on behalf of civil rights.

Abe Foxman to Retire Next Year as ADL’s National Director

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

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.

ADL Honors George W. Bush

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League awarded its highest honor to former President George W. Bush.

The ADL presented its America’s Democratic Legacy Award to the former president during a Thursday night gala dinner that opened the its national executive committee meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

“We will never forget, Mr. President, how the vision you laid out of ‘two states, living side by side, in peace and security’ still informs our consciousness and our parlance today,” said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman. “You solidified an unbreakable affinity between two democracies challenged by extremists and terrorists — and an ironclad shared understanding — that security is one of the most important foundations for peace.”

Foxman also hailed Bush’s support for immigration reform and his leadership after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“When you were called on to respond to unspeakable terror, hate and violence, you refused to let America give into stereotypes,” Foxman said. “You answered calls for anti-Muslim revenge with calls for respect and understanding.”

Bush spoke at the dinner, which was held at The Breakers resort and was reportedly closed to the press.

Previous recipients of the award, which the ADL has been giving out for more than half a century, have included American presidents as well as other government, business, literary and religious figures.

MK Who Excluded Reform Jews from Judaism Was ‘Misunderstood’

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Reform Jews really are not another religion after all, says Likuid-Beiteinu Knesset Member David Rotem, who claimed on Thursday that his reported remark to the contrary was “misunderstood.

There is no video available to see and hear what MK Rotem, an Orthodox Jew, really said at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that he heads.

He was quoted on Wednesday as having stated, ““The Reform movement is not Jewish … they are another religion,” during a discussion on a bill concerning adoption.

Such comments are par for the course in Israel, where the remark was duly noted as another moment of entertainment for the Israel public between soccer games. The Reform Movement in Israel, of course, was furious, but most secular Israelis have too much respect for Jewish tradition than to consider the Reform idea anything more than a curiosity, if not one of those strange concoctions that could succeed only in the United States and , lest we forget, pre-Nazi Germany.

“I have never said belonging to the Reform Movement makes anyone less Jewish,” Rotem wrote on Facebook Thursday. “While as an Orthodox Jew, I have theological differences with the Reform Movement’s perspective, I maintain the greatest respect for all Jews, regardless of their denomination and background. I apologize for any misunderstanding and all offense generated by the content of my comments yesterday.”

His quick apology was smart, much smarter than his faux pas. Many if not most  Reform Jews indeed are Jews by any definition of the term. But a disturbing number of Reform Jews are far from Jewish under Jewish law, and some of them are even “rabbis.”

The whole question of whether a Reform Jew, or any other person, is  a Jew or not brings into focus the entire problem with the reform Movement, parts of whose theology often appear to be not a stream of Judaism but a stream apart from Judaism.

Like the Biblical Korach, it has decided that their leaders whom they call rabbis can decide just as well as Orthodox Jews who is a Jew and what is Jewish law. It is somewhat like a natural health therapist calling himself a doctor. Why study medicine for six years, and why study Torah for many more years,” when you can take a shortcut through McDonald’s, eat a cheeseburger on the way to Yom Kippur prayers, and call the congregants Jewish because they like being called that?

Regardless of the theological problems with Reform Judaism, Rotem made a big mistake by saying that fellow Jews belong to another religion just because they are Reform.

“I hope that this clarification can generate the necessary debate on how to further unify the Jewish People, both in Israel and the Diaspora, around our shared vital interests and concerns, rather than limiting it to the differences that exist among us,” Rotem added on Facebook.

Israeli politicians like Rotem who are Israeli from top to bottom have no knowledge of the Diaspora. They don’t realize that Jews outside the country, especially in the United States, may be armchair Zionists  if not armchair Jews, but that doesn’t mean they should be shunned as “non-Jews.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Rotem’s comments, although he later said they were misunderstood, “inappropriate, offensive and unjustified.”

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote MK Rotem, “We are deeply disturbed by reports of comments attributed to you about the Reform movement ‘not being Jewish.’ Such views are inappropriate, offensive and unjustified. The suggestion that Jews throughout the world who identify with the Reform movement are somehow not a part of the Jewish people is an unacceptable characterization of a proud, highly engaged and committed group of Jews.

“Among many U.S. non-Orthodox Jews, rejectionist rhetoric of this kind fosters divisiveness and feelings of alienation towards elements of Israeli society. As someone who has long been engaged in the issue of Jewish identify, we are surprised and saddened that you expressed these views. For the sake of Jewish unity and in the spirit of the pluralistic ideals of our beloved Israel, we call on you to retract your comments and issue a quick and unequivocal apology for your statements.”

Rotem has apologized, and whether he actually said what was reported makes no difference. The damage was done on two fronts.

He wrongly wrote tens of thousands of Jews out of the pale and he also missed an opportunity to characterize the Reform Movement as one whose roots in the United States are strongly pro-American and blatantly anti-Zionist and which claims an increasingly larger following by redefining the term “Jew.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/mk-who-excluded-reform-jews-from-judaism-was-misunderstood/2014/02/06/

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