FBI Director, U.N. Ambassador Keynote ADL National Meeting; ADL's Foxman Issues Clarion Call About the 'Christianizing of America'
New York, NY, November 10, 2005 … In a major address to the Anti-Defamation League, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III discussed ongoing concerns about the threat of terrorism against the United States and efforts by law enforcement to pursue and capture terrorists before they act. Mr. Mueller was among numerous high-profile policymakers, government officials and foremost experts to address the League's annual National Commission Meeting, November 3-5 in New York City, including Ambassador John R. Bolton, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations.
"The FBI has always been good at collecting information, but we had to become better at analyzing and sharing intelligence information," Mr. Mueller told an audience of more than 300 ADL leaders from across the country. "Today, the FBI and CIA are not only sharing information on a regular basis, we are exchanging employees and working together and working on cases virtually every day."
In the presence of the FBI Director, the League commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Achille Lauro hijacking and the death of Leon Klinghoffer at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, and honored Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer for their efforts in fighting back against terrorism in the aftermath of the hijacking and the tragic murder of their father.
In sounding a call for reform at the United Nations, Ambassador Bolton said that although the U.S. supports the work of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, "we're looking forward to his successor to take office in January 2007. … We're looking for candidates from outside the U.N. system, for someone with international managing skills, someone from all over the world who brings a fresh set of eyes." Ambassador Bolton said of the U.N. reform process, "There has been progress in pursuit of U.N. reform. However, there's much more to be done."
Ambassador Bolton warned that Syria faces stiff economic sanctions if it continues to rebuff the U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. "They need to appreciate, especially with the unanimous resolution of the Security Council, that they can run, but they cannot hide," Ambassador Bolton said of the suspects. "It's not simply their governments that will pay the price, they will pay the price as well."
Religion in America's Politics, Government and Schools: Are We Crossing the Line?
In a major address on the emerging effort to "Christianize America" by the Christian right, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director said that, "Today we face a better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized, and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before. Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America. To save us!"
Mr. Foxman said major players include Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defense Fund, the American Family Association, and Family Research Council. "They and other groups have established new organizations and church-based networks, and built infrastructures throughout the country designed to promote traditional 'Christian values.'"
These groups and others "intend to 'Christianize' all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to libraries, movies, recording studios, and playing fields and locker rooms of professional, collegiate and amateur sports, from the military to SpongeBob SquarePants."
The Changing Supreme Court
Professor Burt Neuborne, the Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties at New York University School of Law, focused on the current changes in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, and what they might mean for civil rights and church-state relations. Professor Neuborne spoke about the shift from Chief Justice William Rehnquist to Chief Justice John Roberts. Describing Judge Roberts as a "pragmatic conservative" similar to the late chief justice, Professor Neuborne indicated that he did not believe this change would significantly alter the court's balance.
By contrast, Professor Neuborne described Judge Samuel Alito, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, as an "originalist" whose installation on the court would significantly impact the court's direction. Describing Judge Alito as "extraordinarily bright, decent and gifted," the Professor noted that his originalism would represent an enormous contrast to Justice O'Connor, who has been a "supreme pragmatist" on the court. Professor Neuborne indicated that a change from O'Connor to Alito would have its most dramatic effect in the areas of church-state relations and national security.
Anti-Semitism in France: Improving, But Concerns Remain
Roger Cukierman, Chairman of the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations in France (CRIF), offered an assessment of the current state of anti-Semitism in France. The situation has improved, he said, with a decrease of about 50 percent of anti-Semitic acts; yet concerns remain. He credited the decline to the government's efforts to take strong action against anti-Semitism, and the decline of violence in the Middle East, which had stoked anti-Jewish attitudes in France. The majority of anti-Semitic acts in France are committed by Muslims who come from poor suburbs and suffer from non-integration into French society, Mr. Cukierman said.
Concerning the relationship between France and Israel, there has been marked improvement in the past year. The visit by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in July was a "great success," Mr. Cukierman said. France has made strong gestures of support for Israel, and the media has portrayed the Jewish state much more positively.
Convergence of Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism
Three panelists debated the reasons for the growth of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world and disagreed on whether the current struggle between the West and Islam amounts to a clash of civilizations.
Barry Rubin, Abensohn Visiting Professor in Israeli Studies at American University and author of "Hating America: A History," said the struggle between the West and the Middle East is indeed a clash of civilizations. But New York writer Paul Berman, author of "Power and the Idealists" disagreed. He called the struggle between Islam and the West "a clash of ideologies," likening it to the struggle between democracy and fascism in the mid-20th Century.
Paul Hollander, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, explained that the common link between anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism is the recent phenomenon in the Arab and Muslim world of blaming both Israel and the United States for its troubles. "They are both readily accessible scapegoats," he said.
The Gaza Disengagement: A Tribute to Israel's Law Enforcement
ADL paid tribute to Israel's law enforcement for their humanitarian – and often heroic – actions during the historic withdrawal from Gaza earlier this year. Abraham H. Foxman, citing the heroism and sensitivity with which the disengagement was carried out, thanked members of the Israel Defense Forces, represented at the meeting by Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, and the Israeli Police, represented by Maj. Gen. Mickey Levy, for carrying out their orders with sensitivity and compassion for the settlers who were being relocated, and for those who came to protest the disengagement.
In a related session, Professor Shai Feldman, Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, spoke about the success of Israel's disengagement and what challenges lie ahead in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the aftermath of the Gaza withdrawal.
Honors and Commendations
The following honors and commendations were presented during ADL's 2005 National Commission Meeting:
• ADL honored former Manhattan Borough President and longtime civil rights activist Percy Sutton, a leader in Black-Jewish affairs, with its American Heritage Award for a lifetime of achievement in promoting Black-Jewish relations. More>>
• The League presented its distinguished Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize to noted journalist and commentator Dr. Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International. ADL cited Dr. Zakaria's significant contribution to the national and global debate, compelling commentary on foreign affairs and commitment to the ideals embodied in the First Amendment. More>>
Commission Adopts Resolution on Iranian Nuclear Weapons
The following resolution was adopted by the ADL National Commission on November 3, 2005:
ADL calls on the international community to be resolute in opposing Iran's nuclear program by backing tough sanctions against Iran's leadership in order to bring about an end to uranium enrichment activities; and establish an effective monitoring regime which would cover Iran's nuclear facilities, external transfers of technology and resources relevant to its nuclear program. (Full Text)
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.