Abe Foxman: Mr. A.D.L
by Gad Nahshon
"Never did I imagine that it would be necessary in my life time to convene such a gathering to address anti-Semitism. Not as a historical anomaly but as a current event and as a renewed threat to the survival of the Jewish people," said Abe Foxman at a special international convention in October 2002. That is the new reality!
Abe Foxman, the executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York City, is the guardian angel of any Jew or Israeli who is victimized by anti-Semites or anti-Zionism, prejudice, and/or hate.
For many years, Abe Foxman has dedicated his public life to promote human rights, brotherhood and tolerance. Often, Abe Foxman and his organization, the A.D.L., is fighting against hate toward other people, or minority groups, the gentile one. Foxman has integrity and courage, often, to counter the Jewish establishment, fighting alone for his principles and views. But, generally speaking, Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who came to this country from Poland and became a lawyer, is being praised and admired by many such as ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, ex-President Bill Clinton, Dr. Henry Kissinger, George Tenet, Bibi Netanyahu, Arik Sharon, Shimon Peres, Miles Lerman, Herman Wouk, Rudy Giuliani, Howard Berkowitz (A.D.L.'s national chairman), Eli Wiesel, to mention a few.
"You are the jewel of our generation, Abe, you are a source of healing, not hostility a man of extraordinary passion, a freedom fighter, a voice, a ray of light." This is a memorial tribute to Abe by Reverend Jesse Jackson. In the last decade, Abe Foxman has bee shocked by the rise of an international, global kind of anti-Semitism. As a Jew, as a Holocaust survivor who was saved from death by a Polish woman, who risked her own life to save him, then a child in Poland, Abe has hope for a better world, for a shrinking of the classical-traditional and the Nazi anti-Semitism. We expect a more democratic, liberal world, the march of progress and not the march of regress.
But the reality is different, the global tendencies are negative. There is a rise of a new massive anti-Semitism. Therefore, Foxman, in order to alert us, decided to write a new book based on his unique experience: Never Again? The Threat of New Anti-Semitism (Harper, San Francisco 2003) with an introduction by Eli Wiesel. Never Again became the slogan of the new Jewry. It is a militant battle cry. Can it happen again? Where? In this country? In Europe? Abe Foxman put a question mark after this militant slogan as if he wants to alert us to the fact that history can repeat itself. Should we be on guard? Why?
Does Abe Foxman hint that Rabbi Meir Kahana's belief in Never Again was not wrong in his assessment of the status of Jews inside the Western democracies? Of course there are many who argue that Foxman tends to exaggerate the risk to Jews and tends to inflate the power of the anti-Semites in this country. Foxman does believe in the negative dynamic, in the globalization of the prejudice against the Jews. Certainly, the torch of hate to Jews is in the hands of the Arabs and the Muslims. This tendency is dangerous and we must combat it with all of our power and resources. Be aware of the anti-Semites who hide their hate behind the criticism of Israel's policies in the Middle East.
Anti-Israelism and new anti-Semitism are the two sides of one coin! That the reason, for example, that Abe Foxman said to Ehud Barak: "I do not understand how you can negotiate peace with an Arab enemy who is allowing the flames of hatred to be fed by the press every day." Foxman believed that Barak was wrong. Peace? It also means the dismantling of the Arab's anti-Semitic propaganda. Abe Foxman also met Mubarak in Cairo and protested against the Egyptian Press which became a tool in the hands of anti-Semites or pro-Nazi elements. Mubarak argued in defense that this press is only an anti-Israeli one.
Abe Foxman wrote Never Again? in order to define for us the new characteristics of anti-Semitism and its complications and ramifications. We live in a democracy and we have a free press, first amendments and the internet. Hate mongers use the new technologies for their goals. This is the 'cyber age,' the age of globalization. It is easy to spread lies and hate: "That is why I have written this book now, because the early signs of anti-Semitism are more troubling today than at any time since World War II. We cannot afford to wait for the next crisis and the explosion of hatred and violence it may provoke. We must act now to prevent that outbreak before it occurs and perhaps, God willing, to wipe out the threat of anti-Semitism once and for all," wrote Foxman in Never Again? This is a wake-up call!
The book has a survey of anti-Semitic cases which are typical to the new anti-Semitism ("They killed Jesus and they will kill Arafat"). According to Foxman 34% are anti-Semites in Spain, 23% in Italy, for example. He discussed the state of Jews in a hostile world. Rise of hate in campuses and cradle of hate: The tragedy of Jewish-Catholic relations.
Foxman has a unique attitude to Catholicism. As a child he grew as a Polish Catholic. It was the price of survival in the Nazi era. Later, his parents managed to get custody and took him away from the Polish woman who hid him and saved his life. Abe Foxman once said that if his parents would not have survived the Holocaust, he probably would have never come back to Judaism! It is indeed a touching story.
The following are some highlights from this illuminating book:
Can it happen here? "Do I fear Holocaust in the United States?... probably not," he writes. He does not believe in concentration camps for Jews in America. "But I can easily imagine terrible consequences, short of mass murder, that could be brought about by a new outbreak of anti-Semitism in America." As to Israel: "There might be political efforts to force Jews to renounce their support of Israel," writes Foxman who believes that Jews can be charged with treachery (divided loyalty). There is a danger in America that Jew-baiting might creep back "into acceptability in the media and among mainstream Americans."
There are Jews who are anti-Semites such as Bobby Fisher.
Israel is a Jewish state. What is the meaning of this definition. Foxman has many links to Israel. He loves Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew as well. He has an office in Israel. In this book, he suggested separation of religion and state in Israel.
He writes about the American extreme right. And of course about the Aryan Nation and other hate organizations. He states that Pat Robertson wants to dismantle the separation of religion and state. He is a friend of Ralph Reed. Foxman does not discuss the issue of anti-Semitism on the left!
He does not like the way the Jews often are being treated in the popular culture (Brando!). Dolly Parton complains that Jews in Hollywood have closed doors in front of the Christian message. But he, also, is critical of Jackie Mason's agenda. And Whoopi Goldberg should not use the line: "Jewish American Princess Fried Chicken."
Internet: a paradise for anti-Semites. It is 'hate based crimes.' All these many anti-Semitic websites are being defended by the first amendment. The answer: public awareness. A.D.L. developed "A.D.L. Hate Filter" (software).
Foxman warns about the Holocaust industry and the trivialization of the Holocaust . He believes in massive counter-anti-Semitism in education as the best preventive medicine. We need to mobilize a strong active camp against the rise of prejudice in our time. Tolerance should be our supreme value, culture of tolerance.
In "Brother Against Brother" Foxman discusses the troubling rift between Jews and Blacks. There is an anti-Semite segment among African-Americans. But Foxman omitted a discussion on the issue of Crown Heights pogrom, Aug. 1991. We should draw some effective conclusions for three days the African-American mob attacked Jews in Brooklyn - three days! People were wounded, property was destroyed. We should not easily forget this pogrom in which one Jewish scholar was murdered! As to Reverend Sharpton, Foxman states: He is not anti-Semite. Today the Jewish-Black relations have improved. Foxman does not discuss our relations with the rising Latino-Spanish minority (37 million).
"From Hatred to Jihad: Anti-Semitism in the Muslim World" is a very important element of the new anti-Semitism. The Muslim world today turned out to be a world of Jewish and Israeli hate. A good Muslim must hate Israel because of the occupation of Jerusalem (El-Quds).
Furthermore, Foxman argues: "Ultimately, Jews both within the United States and around the world might become increasingly isolated and vulnerable to attacks by hard core anti-Semites. Very quickly, the actual survival of the Jewish people might once again be at risk."
Foxman is enriching us with a survey of the massive attacks on Jews: Nazi propaganda in Arabic language, Holocaust denial, blood libels, anti-Semitic websites, and the protocols of the Elders of Zion everywhere as the Arab or Muslim's new fresh air to breath... The conclusion: The Jewish race, like Israel, should be eliminated. The Jewish race is being described as a demon. The Jews and the Israelis alike are being attacked. Cyber attacks day and night.
"For example: The Hezbollah network of psychological warfare against Zionism: Jihad on line! And: The hatred continued to spew from Mosques, newspapers, and studios of the Arab world," concluded Foxman. And he remarked: For many years we have failed to assess this wave of Arab anti-Semitism. We ignored it. It was our mistake!
Never Again? is an important contribution to our awareness about the attacks on us Jews and Israelis alike. But Foxman's alertness is very important. He is a great professional, he is a dedicated leader whose goal is to defend our survival. He sees the future's dangers. We should never repeat the terrible silence of Jews in the free world of the Holocaust era. We should be prepared, we should develop means and tools of survival, an effective mechanism of counter-anti-Semitism, together with the powers of liberty and democracy: "Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must, at that moment, become the center of the universe," said Eli Wiesel.
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) since 1987, is world-renowned as a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination. In the forefront of major issues of the day, including the Black/Jewish dialogue, the fight against terrorism here and abroad, church/state issues, religious intolerance and Holocaust restitution issues, he consistently speaks out against hatred and violence wherever they occur -- Oklahoma City, Kosovo or the Middle East.
Mr. Foxman appears frequently on national news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS and NPR, and is quoted often in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time and Newsweek, among other media. His op-eds have appeared in newspapers across the country.
Mr. Foxman regularly confers with elected officials and community leaders here and abroad. He has had consultations in Europe, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, China, South Africa and Argentina, and with Palestinian leaders, on problems of ethnic hatred, violence and terrorism and he has had three audiences with Pope John Paul II. Mr. Foxman is a passionate supporter of the State of Israel and a voice for peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Foxman is a member of the President's United States Holocaust Memorial Council, appointed by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, and is a Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. He was a member of official Presidential delegations to Kiev for the 50th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, to Warsaw for the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and to Jerusalem for the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A Holocaust survivor, he is a recognized authority on the Holocaust and Jewish resistance to the Nazis. He has helped to focus worldwide attention on the heroic efforts of Christian rescuers of Jews and has been a leader in developing education programs about the Holocaust. He has written extensively on the subject and has contributed to the Encyclopedia Judaica, as well as to four books -- They Fought Back, Anthology of Holocaust Literature, The Jewish Catastrophe in Europe, and Society on Trial.
Born in Poland in 1940, Mr. Foxman was saved from the Holocaust as an infant by his Polish Catholic nursemaid who baptized and raised him as a Catholic during the war years. His parents survived the war, but 14 members of his family were lost. He arrived in America in 1950 with his parents. A graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Foxman has a B.A. in political science from the City College of the City University of New York, graduating with honors in history. He holds a J.D. degree from New York University School of Law, and did graduate work in advanced Judaic studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and in international economics at The New School for Social Research. Mr. Foxman is fluent in several languages. He joined ADL in 1965.
In 1992, Florida International University awarded Mr. Foxman an honorary Doctor of Law degree. In 1994, he received the Townsend Harris Medal from the City College of New York Alumni Association for outstanding achievement in his chosen field. He was the first co-recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Donald R. Mintz Freedom and Justice Award, presented by Dillard University in spring 1997 for his efforts in furthering Black-Jewish relations. In 1999, Mr. Foxman was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and decorated with Bulgaria's prestigious Order of the Madara Horseman in January 2000. In June 2001 he was presented with the University at Albany Medallion. Mr. Foxman was presented with Austria's highest honor, the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold on November 2001 and with The Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Leadership Award in April 2002 from Ramapo College.
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