Immigration Issues, Global Anti-Semitism And Israel Top Agenda of ADL National Meeting in Washington, DC
New York, NY, May 8, 2007 … The need for meaningful immigration reform topped the agenda of the League's annual Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Conference. ADL leaders heard an array of perspectives on the issue from government and administration officials, Congressional representatives and leaders of organizations representing the Hispanic community in the United States.
Capping the two days of meetings, April 29 – May 1 in Washington, D.C. was an address calling for comprehensive immigration reform by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who described the need to protect the rights of immigrants as "a test of our own humanity." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff discussed the need to balance the interests of protecting the homeland and the imperative of providing a path for legal immigration. Secretary Chertoff also discussed his department's partnership with ADL's Advanced Training School, which provides specialized training and expertise to agency personnel on extremism, hate groups, terrorism and civil liberties.
ADL and Senator Kennedy announced the re-issuance of "A Nation of Immigrants," the classic essay written by then-Senator John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. The essay, which was originally written for ADL in 1958, is being republished by HarperCollins and will be available in bookstores in January 2008.
Other speakers and sessions on immigration included:
• A panel discussion focusing on promoting comprehensive immigration reform while fighting appeals to extremism and hate stemming from the immigration debate featured insights from Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum; Eric Gutierrez, Legislative Staff Attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Stacy Burdett, ADL Associate Director of Government & National Affairs.
• Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) gave a briefing on legislative issues currently pending before Congress, including immigration reform.
Experts Discuss Global Anti-Semitism
Four experts were featured in a panel discussion on "Confronting Global Anti-Semitism: A Transatlantic Partnership" moderated by Ron Kampeas, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The speakers included U.K. Parliamentarian Denis MacShane, author of the "Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism"; Benedikt Haller, Special Envoy for Relations with Jewish Communities and Anti-Semitism Issues in Germany; Dr. Gregg Rickman, Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, U.S. State Department; and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
The speakers focused on the need for renewed efforts to educate against anti-Semitism and for consistency in the monitoring and reporting of anti-Semitic incidents around the world, and especially in Europe.
Also addressing anti-Semitism in Europe, as well as the new generation of Polish Jewry, was Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland. "We need to be very good at fighting anti-Semitism and identifying it. We also need to be very good at finding our partners and allies in fighting against anti-Semitism, intolerance and bias," he said.
Israel's Challenges in the Middle East
Ambassador Sallai Meridor, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., discussed the myriad challenges facing the Jewish state, including the rearming of Hezbollah in the north, the buildup in the Gaza Strip of a "terrorist state," efforts to secure the release of Israel's kidnapped soldiers, and regional threats posed by Iran and Syria. Ambassador Meridor said that Israel is still looking for opportunities for peace with its neighbors and is trying to strengthen the moderate forces in the Palestinian Authority loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We want to widen the circle of peace and hopefully help the Palestinians to make a choice for peace," he said.
A panel focusing on U.S. policy in the Middle East featured Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; C. David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), member of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee. The discussion was moderated by Jeffrey Goldberg, Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker.
Experts on the Iranian threat discussed the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, the danger Iran poses to Israel and the entire region, and efforts to avert a showdown with the West over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Speakers included Kenneth Pollack, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and Director of Research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy; and Matthew Levitt, Senior Fellow and Director of The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy.
Other Key Issues on the Jewish Agenda
ADL's Leadership Conference featured noteworthy speakers on "Religion in the Public Square: Challenges and Opportunities," with Eric W. Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination in the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
The ongoing threat of genocide in Darfur was the subject of a panel discussion featuring David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition, and Colin Thomas-Jensen, the Africa Advocacy and Research Manager at the International Crisis Group.
Kenneth Jacobson, ADL Deputy National Director, conducted a workshop on answering tough questions about Israel, Zionism and anti-Semitism, and how to respond to developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Awards and Commendations
The following awards and commendations were presented during ADL's Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC:
• Khaled Abdelwahhab, the Muslim scion of a wealthy Tunisian family, was posthumously honored with the ADL Courage to Care Award for his heroic efforts to rescue a group of dispossessed Jews during World War II. The award was accepted on behalf of the Abdelwahhab family by his daughter, Faiza Abdul-Wahab. (More)
• Dr. Eugene Fisher was presented with the League's distinguished ADL Dr. Joseph L. Lichten Award in Catholic-Jewish Relations for his pioneering role in helping to promote and further dialogue between Catholics and Jews. (More)
• Dr. Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy was honored with the ADL Daniel Pearl Award in recognition of his journalistic endeavors that unearthed long-forgotten stories from the Holocaust in Arab lands and for his probing insights into contemporary issues in the Middle East. (More)
• Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, was honored with the prestigious Jan Karski Eagle Award for his efforts in fighting anti-Semitism, promoting democracy and his commitment to the imperative, "Never Again." Presenting the award were Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, a prominent figure in the Catholic Church of Poland and longtime student, friend and collaborator of Pope John Paul II, and Waldemar Piasecki, a New York-based journalist and a member of the Jan Karski Eagle Award Committee. (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.