Dover Judge Makes Case for Judicial Independence; Mohammad Cartoon Controversy and Anti-Semitism Discussed at ADL National Meeting
New York, NY, February 15, 2006 … The judge who presided over last year's landmark case involving the teaching of "Intelligent Design" in the Dover, PA, schools told the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that his verdict was grounded in constitutional law and court precedents that found that the government, in providing public education, must not endorse any religious view.
"I did what I believe all good judges must do, which is to approach the case without a political agenda or a bias or a predisposition or a thought that if a case is decided in a certain way, it will offend a political benefactor," U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III told the annual meeting of the ADL's National Executive Committee, February 9-11 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Despite his efforts to render an impartial and fair ruling, Judge Jones said he was derided as an "activist judge" by advocates of teaching "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Judge Jones said what troubled him most from the experience of the Dover case was his sense of a "creeping disrespect for the judiciary" among Americans.
"As citizens, we do not want and in fact we cannot possibly have a judiciary which operates according to the polls, or one which rules based on who appointed us or according to the popular will of the country at any given moment in time," Judge Jones said. "We must never forget that the Rule of Law is not a conservative or a liberal value. It is assuredly not a Republican or Democratic value. Rather, it is an American value."
The Judge's remarks to the National Executive Committee – the League's highest policymaking body – capped three days of meetings, discussions and policymaking on a wide array of issues of importance to ADL's mission. Among those discussed were separation of church and state, the Mohammed cartoon controversy and anti-Semitism in the Muslim and Arab press, the implications of the recent Hamas election victory, and the importance of Holocaust education and remembrance in schools.
The Mohammad Cartoon Controversy: Two Views
While the controversy over the decision by European newspapers to print cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad initially did not involve Jews in any way, Muslim anger over the cartoons has opened the door to anti-Semitism, said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, who presented a slide show of anti-Semitic cartoons that have appeared in the Muslim and Arab media since the outbreak of violence in Europe and the Muslim world.
Mr. Foxman said that as the violence has raged, Muslim and Arab newspapers are continuing to print dangerous anti-Semitic images, including those blaming the cartoon controversy on Jews. "Now we find ourselves in a situation where a Danish newspaper does a cartoon about a non-Jewish prophet, and it's our fault – this is a Jewish, Zionist conspiracy," he said.
Don Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Palm Beach Post, discussed the dilemmas faced by editorial cartoonists when portraying mythological religious figures. While caution is the watchword when depicting religious figures, Mr. Wright said that satire and caricature are the tools of his trade, and that "there are times when different religions deserve to be criticized because of hypocrisy and their involvement in seeking power through politics."
Experts Discuss Religion In Public Square
Some activist evangelical Christian organizations are attempting to use their political influence "to establish a soft theocracy" in America, said Michelle Goldberg, a noted journalist and author who has written extensively on the Religious Right. Ms. Goldberg, senior reporter at Salon.com and author of the forthcoming book, "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," said that the goal of this movement, "is not to infiltrate just the government, but to reclaim all of America."
"They talk about the need to subvert all aspects of American life to the teachings of Christ," said Ms. Goldberg, who spoke in conversation with Eric J. Greenberg, ADL Associate Director of Interfaith Affairs, in a session devoted to concerns about attempts by some on the Religious Right to remake America in their image.
Other featured speakers at the ADL meeting included former New York Times columnist William Safire, who was presented with the League's Joseph Prize for Human Rights, and Gen. Moshe Yaalon, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, who discussed Israel's plight in the aftermath of the election victory of Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
- Holocaust Education: Yossie Hollander, an Israeli entrepreneur and Orange County philanthropist, discussed the League's efforts to introduce a groundbreaking new Holocaust curriculum into schools across the country. Developed in partnership with ADL, Yad Vashem and the Shoah Foundation, Echoes & Reflections – A Multimedia Curriculum on the Holocaust uses survivor testimony and lesson plans to help teachers engage students in learning about the events of the Holocaust. In implementing the curriculum, ADL educational staffers are providing hands-on training to teachers, giving them practical tips on the most effective ways to make an impact on students.
- Courage to Care: The ADL Courage to Care Award was presented to Constantine Koslovsky (posthumous) of Belarus in recognition of his heroic rescue of Jews during the Holocaust. Accepting the award was Eileen Ludwig-Greenland, an ADL National Commissioner, and Aron Bielski Bell, a member of the rescued family.
- Israel Up Close and Personal: Sidnie Davis, a sophomore at Smith College and a student leader on campus, discussed her recent experiences traveling to Israel and learning about the issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of the League's Current and Future Leaders Study Mission to Israel.
ADL Adopts Resolutions on Hamas, Immigration Reform
The following resolutions were adopted by the ADL National Executive Committee:
ADL supports efforts to reduce the number of undocumented migrants in the U.S. in a comprehensive manner that will serve America's security, humanitarian, and economic interests and help promote family reunification. ADL will support immigration reform legislation that adheres to ADL's established principles in addressing human rights, border control, earned legalization, temporary worker programs, and education and human services. (full text)
ADL calls on the international community to stand firm in its refusal to deal with Hamas, or any government which includes significant Hamas participation, unless Hamas officially recognizes Israel's right to exist, renounces the use of terrorism, and disarms. (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.