ADL Annual Meeting Focuses On Anti-Semitism: Why And Why Now?
New York, NY, November 6, 2007 … With the release of a new poll showing that nearly 35 million Americans hold "unquestionably anti-Semitic" beliefs, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) devoted much of its 2007 annual meeting in New York to an exploration of why anti-Semitism -- from age-old canards about Jewish control to new manifestations veiled as criticism of Zionism – persists in America.
"The idea of the powerful, dangerous Jews endures," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in his keynote address. Jew hatred lives on in speeches by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in writings of the professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, and in conspiracy theories about Jewish involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
"This is what makes anti-Semitism so lethal," said Mr. Foxman. "We cannot be complacent because leaders can always conjure it up as the true explanation of the problems that exist. The impact of these ideas are with us today -- not as a history lesson, but as a current event."
Nearly 400 leaders from across the country participated in the annual meeting of the League's National Commission, November 1-3 in New York City. They heard from an array of experts on anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism in the New Testament, the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel and the region, the portrayal of Jews in pop culture, and protecting children from hate on the Internet.
Survey: Anti-Semitism Remains Constant in U.S.
The ADL survey found that 15% of Americans hold views about Jews that are "unquestionably anti-Semitic," compared to 14% in 2005. The survey findings, presented by John Marttila of Marttila Communications Group, a Boston-based public opinion firm, found that 31% of Americans believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than America; 27% of the American people believe Jews were responsible for the death of Christ; 15% believe that Jews have "too much power in the U.S.," 20% believe that Jews have "Too much power in the business world," and 18% believe Jews have "too much control/influence on Wall Street."
"It is no accident that professors Mearsheimer and Walt, President Jimmy Carter and Congressman Jim Moran launched their assaults now," said Mr. Foxman. "This is a ripe moment when people are uncertain and anxious about events and wonder why they are happening."
Jewish Stereotypes in Pop Culture: Drawing the Lines
A panel discussion moderated by the noted author, writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum of Fordham University Law School's Forum on Law, Culture & Society focused on the portrayal of Jews in pop culture -- from depictions of Jews in "South Park" to the comedian Sasha Baron Cohen's satirical character, "Borat."
Richard Sweren, Co-Executive Producer and Writer, Law & Order, said that television writers daily face decisions about what is acceptable, and what crosses the line. "We try to modulate everything to be politically correct," he said. ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, who also participated in the discussion, said ADL gets a lot of complaints about the portrayal of Jews in pop culture, and that "this is probably the most difficult area for us as an agency, to deal with and to react. We get a lot of complaints, but our response is never knee-jerk. We evaluate every complaint carefully."
Children at Risk Online: Problems and Solutions
The risks to children on the Internet from racist Web sites and cyberbullying were the subject of a discussion moderated by Christopher Wolf, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP and Chair of ADL's Internet Task Force. The discussion included remarks from Harry Valetk, Corporate Privacy Director, MetLife; Stephen Kline, Chief Safety Officer; Xanga.com; and Scott Hirschfeld, ADL Director of Curriculum. (more)
Other Issues on the Jewish Agenda
ADL delegates also heard from Amy Jill Levine, author of The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, who spoke about anti-Judaism in the New Testament and how age-old anti-Semitic ideas filter down into the pews. Peter W. Rodman, Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, spoke on "Countering Iran's Revolutionary Challenge," and Richard Benson, Chief Executive, of the United Kingdom's Community Security Trust, presented on anti-Semitism and the safety and security of the Jewish community in the U.K.
Honors and Commendations
The following awards and commendations were presented during ADL's annual meeting of the National Commission in New York City:
• Newsweek editor and author Jon E. Meacham was presented with the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize in recognition of his achievements in journalism and his contributions to the ideals embodied in the First Amendment. (more)
• Martha and Waitstill Sharp were posthumously honored with ADL's Courage to Care Award in recognition of their heroic rescue of Jews and others during the Holocaust (more).
• Rabbi Leon Klenicki, ADL Director Emeritus of Interfaith Affairs, was recognized for his career of distinguished service in the field of promoting Catholic-Jewish relations (more).
ADL Adopts Resolution on Iran
The following resolution was adopted by the ADL National Commission:
• In order to prevent the need for more drastic action, the international community must immediately and forcefully use all diplomatic and financial tools at its disposal to pressure Iran to end its production of enriched uranium which can be used for nuclear weapons. These tools include the expeditious enactment of additional Security Council sanctions, European Union sanctions, the divestment of funds from Iran and the cessation of investment by private businesses and government institutions in Iran's energy and nuclear development sectors (more).
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.