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December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Anti Defamation League’

ADL Ties Proving a Problem for Mass. High Court Nominee

Monday, November 25th, 2013

A nominee for the top court in Massachusetts is facing opposition in part because of his affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League.

Joseph S. Berman, 49, a regional leader of the New England ADL and a commissioner for the national ADL since 2006, was nominated as a judge for the state Superior Court in October by Gov. Deval Patrick.

At an emotionally charged hearing last week, Marilyn Pettito Devaney of the Governor’s Council — the elected eight-member panel that is voting on the nomination — said she had the votes to deny Berman the appointment.

Devaney, who lives in Watertown, a Boston suburb with a large Armenian population, added that if she belonged to a group that denied the Holocaust, she would resign.

Her comments relate to a controversy from the mid-2000s, when the national ADL did not recognize the massacre of millions of Armenians on the eve of World War I as genocide. The ADL changed its position in 2007.

Several other councilors cited additional reasons for their unwillingness to support Berman while also agreeing that his ADL ties are a concern, the Boston Globe reported.

Admitting he was not prepared for the council’s reaction, Patrick delayed the vote until Dec. 4.

“I’m going to work hard to get the votes,” he said, although the Globe indicated the extra time would not save the nomination.

Robert Trestan, director of the New England ADL, said “the attack” on Berman and the ADL was a surprise.

“It’s not warranted based on the facts,” Trestan told JTA. “We changed our policy and we have moved on.”

He added, “Membership in an organization such as the ADL should not be a litmus test to qualify for being a judge.”

Berman was among the most persuasive leaders urging the group to acknowledge the massacre as a genocide, according to Jeffrey Robbins, chair of the New England ADL, who testified at the hearing.

Berman, a partner at the Boston firm Looney & Grossman, is a commercial litigation lawyer with a long track record in civil rights advocacy.

Liberal Jews Praise Gay Protection Law, Orthodox

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

An array of liberal Jewish groups lauded the U.S. Senate for passing a bill that would extend federal anti-discrimination protections to gays.

“Today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is an overdue and historic accomplishment in our nation’s effort to end workplace discrimination for the LGBT community,” Reform clergyman David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said Thursday.

“ENDA will extend federal workplace protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, who deserve to be judged on the merits of their work, not on whom they love,” said Saperstein, who has for years been among those leading advocacy for such a bill.

The bill was passed 64-32, with the support of all 55 senators in the Democratic caucus and nine Republicans.

Also praising its passage were the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the American Jewish Committee.

Expressing concern about the passage was Agudath Israel of America, saying its final version “fails to adequately take into account the rights of religious entities.”

Agudath Israel noted that the bill has a religious exemption, but said “it is not clear which religious entities or activities come within its parameters.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who voted in favor of the final version, had offered an amendment that would have extended protections to religiously affiliated private businesses, but proponents of the bill kept it from being included, saying the loophole could ultimately exempt virtually any business.

The Orthodox Union, another Orthodox group, did not release a statement. But when asked, its Washington director, Nathan Diament, singled out for praise Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) for inserting into the bill bans on government retaliation against organizations that seek religious exemptions.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives. Leaders there have suggested they will not bring it to a vote.

Poll: Though Favoring Israel, Americans Wary of Iran Entanglement

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Americans maintain a high opinion of the U.S.-Israel alliance but are wary of any involvement in a potential Iran conflict, according to an Anti-Defamation League poll.

Asked if Israel could be counted on “as a strong, loyal ally,” 76 percent of respondents agreed and 17 percent disagreed.

They also favored Israel over the Palestinians, 48 percent to 16 percent, and tended to regard Israel as a “close ally” by a much greater margin than other Middle East countries: 44 percent of respondents counted Israel as a close ally, with only 14 percent assigning that label to Turkey and 8 percent to Egypt.

On Iran, 81 percent of respondents said they did not trust the country and 74 percent labeled as “unlikely” Iran’s commitment not to develop nuclear weapons.

However, respondents were wary of any military engagement with Iran, with 50 percent favoring the inclusion of military force among options to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and 41 percent opposed.

Asked what the U.S. posture should be if Israel strikes Iran, 48 percent advocated neutrality, 40 percent favored support for Israel, and 9 percent said the United States should oppose any Israeli action.

“There are signs here as elsewhere that the American people want less U.S. involvement in the Middle East region, a position which has little to do with negative feelings toward Israel but that can have negative consequences for the Jewish state,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.

Marttila Strategies conducted the survey for the ADL, polling 1,200 adults over the telephone Oct. 12-22. The survey has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Foxman: US Seen as ‘Weak and Retreating’ on World Stage

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

American wariness of foreign military involvement is making it seem “weak and retreating,” warned the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman.

“Make no mistake about it. If what we are seeing now is the beginning of a deep change in American foreign policy, it will be bad for the Jews,” said Foxman, the ADL’s national director, at a conference Thursday marking the group’s 100th anniversary in New York.

“The combination of America’s unsatisfactory involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, together with the financial crisis at home, have generated a broader opposition to American military involvement overseas,” he said.

Citing among other things the recent congressional resistance to authorizing a strike on Syria, Foxman said: “America is being seen as weak and retreating.”

“The world looks at our choices, looks at our public opinion polls, looks at congressional reactions, looks at the paralysis in Washington on budgeting matters and wonders,” he said.

The perception of weakness could harm U.S. efforts to get Iran to end its nuclear push, Foxman warned.

“I hope that we get our act together,” he said. “I hope Congress starts to think of the bigger picture. I hope we are truly able to keep all options on the table, whether vis-à-vis Iran or Syria, without rushing to military action.”

 

The Legacy of the Leo Frank Travesty

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Last month – August 25, to be precise – marked the 100th anniversary of conviction of Leo Frank in Atlanta.

The Leo Frank case was not the impetus for the founding of the Anti-Defamation League. While the organization was founded the same year as the arrest and trial of Frank for the murder of one of his factory workers, a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan, the idea for ADL, conceived by Sigmund Livingston, a Chicago attorney, preceded the case.

Rather than being the catalyst for the organization, the trial served as a confirmation of the wisdom of Livingston that American Jews needed an institution to combat anti-Semitism.

America was a much different place in 1913. Compared to Europe, Jews here lived far more secure and stable lives, but stereotypes and name-calling were still common.

Still, the trial was a shock to American Jews, as was Frank’s lynching two years later. Looking back, we can see this great tragedy as representing the two sides of America and the Jews that still exist today, but in a very different balance and form.

The lynching of Leo Frank

The lynching of Leo Frank

The Frank affair demonstrated that America was not immune to the stereotypes and conspiracy theories about Jews that had characterized European life for centuries. The blood libel charge was rare in America but a related theme, of a Jewish predator attacking a young Christian female, surfaced in the Frank trial.

For American Jews, the Frank affair was seen as a low point in Jewish life in America. The truth is, however, that the most difficult years came later, particularly in the 1930s when anti-Semitic hate groups proliferated and when quotas in universities and other institutions abounded.

If there were doubts about the need for an ADL, that evaporated among significant parts of the community after Frank’s lynching.

Clearly, America has come a long way in the past 100 years. A Leo Frank incident is unthinkable today. Yet the Frank affair still resonates.

Anti-Semitism in the extreme, a completely biased trial and the lynching, may largely be things of the past. But the stereotypes that underlay that extremism are still alive. ADL surveys show that 15 percent of Americans still have anti-Semitic attitudes.

One hundred years later, we are saddened by the memory that it could have happened here, pleased America has come so far, and recommitted to addressing those still living biases, some of which allowed the travesty that was the Leo Frank affair.

Kerry Briefs Jewish ‘Leaders’ (Cheerleaders?) on MidEast Talks

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry met with what the Jewish Telegraph Agency described as “Jewish leaders” to “brief” them on the resumption of Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks on Thursday evening, August 8.

Although the briefing was off the record, the JTA quoted unnamed attendants who said several things.

First, that the meeting was dominated by Kerry’s “enthusiam for the resumed talks, and the serious commitment he said [sic] saw from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”

And second, that Kerry “repeated his appeal to American Jews to endorse and support the peace process, first made in early June”.

Invited participants at the briefing were: leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Clearly, for this State Department, as well as the JTA, Jewish “leaders” is synonymous with the entire spectrum from center to center left.  Where was the Zionist Organization of America? Where was the Republican Jewish Coalition? Where was Aish HaTorah? Where were any Jewish organizations that might point out the folly of the current talks, or the demand for horrifyingly painful concessions from one side just to start the talks at all, and none from the other side?

Oh, right, those present were the American Jewish CheerLeaders for this Administration and its Middle East efforts all of whom prove an airtight theory usually wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein: the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In fact, almost exactly four years ago, during Obama’s first term he had his first major sitdown with roughly the same set of Jewish “leaders.” The meeting was called at a time when American Jews who very uneasy about Obama’s interest in being supportive of Israel. At that meeting, one man actually did square his shoulders and dared to make a sideways suggestion to the president.

According to an account in the Washington Post, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein said to the president, “If you want Israel to take risks, then its leaders must know that the United States is right next to them.”

The president’s response did not give Jews or Israelis the assurance they had been seeking.  Obama said to Hoenlein, ““Look at the past eight years,” he said, referring to the George W. Bush administration’s relationship with Israel. “During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”

In other words – being such good friends with Israel did nothing for President Bush’s ability to make progress on the peace process.  It looks like Obama’s Middle East team holds the same view the president expressed right to the faces of the American “Jewish leaders” back in 2009.   And now no one in that group is going to challenge him or his surrogates.

‘Nazi Essay’ Teacher Placed on Leave

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The Albany school district has placed on leave a High School teacher whose persuasive writing assignment was for students to argue that Jews are evil in order to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty, the Albany Times Union reported.

Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said the district is planning to take some disciplinary action against the teacher, saying it could range from a letter of reprimand to termination. She asserted the district would not allow the teacher back in the classroom before the end of the year.

The district will also employ sensitivity trainers from the Anti-Defamation League to work with teachers and students before the end of the school year.

The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.

The assignment read: “Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion. You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”

One of the three classes given the assignment refused to do it. Perhaps that had been the intent of the entire project, to test how far High School students would go to comply with an authority figure?

At a news conference on Friday with members of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of New York, Vanden Wyngaard apologized to the community for the assignment. She said she was shocked at the assignment. “You asked a child to support the notion that the Holocaust was justified, that’s my struggle,” she said. “It’s an illogical leap for a student to make.”

Emily Karandy, 16, told the Times Union she was putting off the assignment, and felt “horrible” when she turned in her essay, “because I didn’t want to think about it and I didn’t want to say anything bad about Jewish people. We thought it would make more sense if we were Jews arguing against Nazis.” Karandy said.

The Times Union first reported on the assignment on Friday. Shelly Shapiro, director of the Jewish Federation of New York, said she was satisfied with the district’s response because administrators are treating the mistake as a learning experience, for teachers and students.

“It’s not how you teach about how prejudice has led to genocide,” she said. “There are ways to do it. This way was not the proper pedagogical way to do it.”

But Reform Rabbi Donald P. Cashman of the B’nai Sholom Congregation, who is the father of three Albany High graduates, empathized with the teacher. “Hypothetical situations are often effective teaching tools,” he told the NY Times, and debating positions one may not believe in can also be valuable.

“We know it’s important for kids to get out of their comfort zones,” Cashman said, noting that the assignment corresponded with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/nazi-essay-teacher-placed-on-leave/2013/04/14/

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