ADL Responds To Accusations That It "Threatened" The Polish Consulate Into Canceling Judt
New York, NY, October 17, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls the accusations that it is responsible for canceling of a program featuring Tony Judt at the Polish Consulate "baseless," and says the campaign by professors ignores "due diligence" of the facts.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
On October 13, we received a letter from Mark Lilla of the University of Chicago and Richard Sennett of the London School of Economics accusing ADL and me of violating democratic principles of debate by threatening and pressing the Polish Consulate General to cancel a speech by Tony Judt. More than 100 other academics, journalists and others signed on to the letter from Professors Lilla and Sennett.
What is so shocking about this letter is that a group claiming to be defending fundamental values of free expression in a democratic society – values that ADL has worked to ensure for decades –employs techniques which completely debase those values.
Neither the principal authors of the letter nor any of the co-signatories ever sought me out to get the perspective of ADL as to what did and did not happen. Professors Lilla and Sennett simply credit as "fact" the comments and opinions of the president of the group that sponsored the event and leap to the unsupported conclusion that "[T]hese facts argue against the press release ADL circulated . . . disclaiming any role in the cancellation of Professor Judt's lecture;" they have acted as judge and jury without engaging in the least bit of due diligence to ascertain whether there are facts they do not know; and they use inflammatory words like "threaten" "pressure" and "intimidate" that bear no resemblance to what actually transpired.
ADL did not threaten or intimidate or pressure anyone. The Polish Consul General made his decision concerning Tony Judt's appearance strictly on his own.
ADL is justifiably proud of its 93-year record of defending free speech as a bedrock principle of a healthy society. It is disheartening to see leading scholars ignore the very doctrine they invoke by rushing to judgment against our organization. Their behavior is a much subtler and more dangerous form of intimidation than the baseless accusations conjured up against ADL. Now, by raising the specter of "threat and intimidation," Professors Lilla and Sennett want ADL to fall into line and behave as though "the rules of the game in America…" do not also oblige them "to encourage rather than stifle public debate."
When teachers speak out on the rules governing "fundamental principles of debate in a democracy", particularly scholars of the stature of Professors Lilla and Sennett, they have a responsibility to the academy, their students and society to do so with the highest degree of respect for those principles. Sadly, Professors Lilla and Sennett appear to have lost sight this responsibility.
Our suggestion that we meet face to face to put the facts on the table was rejected by Professors Lilla and Sennett.
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.