ADL Issues Clarion Call on Threat of Islamic Extremism; Hamas, Hezbollah, Hate on the Internet and Counterterrorism Among Issues Featured At ADL Annual Meeting
New York, NY, November 2, 2006 … At the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) annual National Commission Meeting, held October 26-28 in Atlanta, Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, issued a clarion call on the threat of Islamic extremism. Jeffrey Goldberg, author and expert on the Middle East, examined Israel's two front war against Hezbollah and Hamas and a panel of Internet law and privacy experts discussed hate on the Internet.
Other speakers included Jim McDonnell, Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Police Department, Ambassador Arye Mekel, Consul General of Israel in New York, Sam Zamarripa, the first Hispanic in the Georgia Senate, Freddy Pressner, Head of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela, K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and ADL National Chair Barbara B. Balser concluded her three-year term and passed the gavel to Glen Lewy.
The Threat of Islamic Extremism
Islamists, especially those who represent the violent Jihadist variant, "operate in a world without limits and without scruples," Abraham H. Foxman said in a major address in which he outlined responses Western leaders and nations should take in facing down the "dark and growing danger" of Islamic extremism.
"Radical Islamists are arming their faithful with hate and rage, with a goal toward dismantling democracy and creating a world ruled by Islamic law," Mr. Foxman said.
"We should be concerned about Muslim sensitivities, but never give in to the hypocrisy of a supercritical Muslim world when episodes like the Danish cartoons or the Pope's speech occur. There is no excuse for the violence that took place after these incidents."
The Hamas-Hezbollah Dilemma: Israel's Two Front War
Jeffrey Goldberg, Washington Correspondent for the The New Yorker and author of "Prisoners: A Muslim and A Jew Across the Middle East Divide," explained, from his personal contacts with members and leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, what he sees as the main difference between the two groups. He described Hezbollah as "an anti-Semitic genocidal organization." Hamas, because of proximity to Israel, has a better understanding of the Jewish State and no longer really believes that it can be destroyed.
Goldberg disagreed with those who called Israel's war with Hezbollah a failure. He said that Israel did indeed accomplish some if its goals, including the fact that Hezbollah is no longer on the Israeli border and the strong dissatisfaction with Hezbollah in Lebanon since the conflict.
Israel: Current Challenges for the Peace Process
Ambassador Arye Mekel, Consul General of Israel in New York, offered an assessment of Israel's war in Lebanon and future hopes for the peace process.
Learning from Israeli Counterterrorism Experts
Jim McDonnell, Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Police Department reported on his experiences on an ADL law enforcement mission to Israel which explored Israel's counterterrorism strategies and tactics.
Experts Discuss Hate on the Internet
In a session moderated by Chris Wolf, Chair of ADL's Internet Task Force and Chair of the International Network Against Cyber-Hate, three experts discussed the challenge posed by hate groups who use the Internet to spread anti-Semitic and racist content, especially at a time when neo-Nazis and hate groups are taking advantage of new technologies, including podcasts, video broadcasts and blogs.
Doug Isenberg, an attorney and publisher of GigaLaw.com, discussed current laws on the books that can be used to pursue racists who cross the line from speech protected by the First Amendment to threats or explicit calls for violent acts.
Les Seagraves, the Chief Privacy Officer of Earthlink Inc., described the role of Internet Service Providers, noting that ISPs reject the role of judge in moderating content. "We don't want to be a judge. We don't want to have the role of the judge and to take on the world," he said, but added that ISPs also want to be responsible corporate citizens, and will enforce their terms of service if they are violated, removing sites when necessary.
Richard Warman, a Canadian Human rights lawyer, recounted his experiences in battling hate propaganda on the Internet in Canada, where the Canadian Human Rights Act makes it a criminal offense to spread "hatred and contempt" on the Web.
Hispanics and the Jewish Community: A Working Coalition
Sam Zamarripa, the first Hispanic in the Georgia Senate, discussed the growth of the anti-immigrant movement in the southeast and how Jewish and Hispanic groups can work together to fight bigotry.
The Chavez Regime: Implications for Venezuelan Jews
Freddy Pressner, Head of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela, spoke about the current state of the Jewish community under the Chavez regime and the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the media and in society.
Challenges to Church-State Separation
K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, discussed the rampant politicizing of religion in Washington. Hollman said that the two main areas of challenge are the constant attacks on religious values and the use of religion for political purposes. She said the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and ADL are working together by providing alternatives to extremes and educating the public about freedom of religion and the importance of church/state separation.
Echoes & Reflections: A New Approach to Teaching the Holocaust
Lee Pope, a history teacher at Grady High School in Atlanta and an Echoes and Reflections -- a multimedia curriculum on the Holocaust -- educator, spoke about the impact the program has had in his classroom. Echoes and Reflections is so important, Pope explained, because the number of survivors is dwindling. But their testimonies in the curriculum, educate the next generation in a direct and personal way.
Barbara B. Balser Passes Gavel of ADL National Chair to Glen Lewy
Barbara B. Balser was honored for her many years of distinguished leadership with ADL locally in Atlanta and nationally, culminating in her tenure as ADL National Chair. She passed the gavel to Glen Lewy of New York.
Honors and Commendations
The following honors and commendations were presented during ADL's 2006 National Commission Meeting:
• Hiram Bingham IV, who as a U.S. diplomat defied orders and granted more than 2500 American visas to Jews and other refugees during the Holocaust, was honored posthumously with the Courage to Care Award, which recognizes rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
• America's Democratic Legacy Award was presented to Bernard Marcus, co-founder, The Home Depot Inc. Citing his triumphant spirit of entrepreneurship and his dedication to philanthropic causes that include medical research, Holocaust education, and Israel.
• Southeast ADL presented the Abe Goldstein Human Relations Award to Ronald Davis Balser, a former Regional Board Chair and active national leader.
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.