Remarks (as prepared for delivery)
The Hon. Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
To the Anti-Defamation League
2008 Annual Meeting
Los Angeles, CA,
November 13, 2008
|Good morning. Thank you, George, for your kind words and your ongoing
friendship over the years. I also want to recognize my colleague,
Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker, and the leaders of the national ADL,
Glen Lewy and Abe Foxman. Last, but certainly not least, I have to
acknowledge some of the people who have worked so closely with me over
the years, who brought me to speak at a diversity training session more
than a decade ago, and who took me on my first trip to Israel: Amanda
Susskind, Nicole Mutchnik, and all of the staff and board members of the
ADL’s Pacific Southwest Region.
Ninety-five years ago, the Anti-Defamation League began its effort to
“secure justice and fair treatment for all” in a world far
different from the one we live in today. It was a time when some of the
worst incidents of prejudice may have stayed in the shadows. A moment
when injustice could rear its ugly head and few had the courage to stand
up and stop it. The voices of the weak and the oppressed went unnoticed
and the cries for help fell silent.
Yet - thanks to the ADL - a chorus of understanding started to build
and calls for action were finally heard. Over more than nine decades, this
organization has never forgotten its roots and never shied away from the
mission we ALL share: To fight the forces of hatred and racism,
intolerance and anti-Semitism; to build bridges of trust and dialogue;
to act on the promise of civil rights and religious freedom for all; to
fulfill our obligation to “tikkun olam”, to repairing the world, to
lifting up people of different races and religions, and walking
hand-in-hand along the path of justice and equality.
Unfortunately, the world today remains filled with too many stories of
conflict, too many reports of causeless hatred, too many tales of
division. From the deserts of the Middle East to the suburbs of Paris,
from the storied streets of London to the public housing projects of
South L.A, we sometimes find ourselves lost in a wave of hate crimes and
racial tensions…in an onslaught of unprovoked attacks and unwarranted
The perpetrators of these acts reject the spirit of our common humanity
and our shared heritage. They have left the values of peace and respect
on the dust heap of history only to move toward the future on a road of
violence and terror.
This is simply unacceptable. Bigotry of any kind has no place in our
society. And it is up to us - leaders in the public and private sectors,
trendsetters in our communities, believers in the promise of the common
good - to stand up and send a clear message to all of the purveyors of
hate in our midst:
That diversity must be a source of strength. That the power of a united
people will overcome the forces of division. And while we are many
cultures and we come from many traditions, we remain one nation.
There is much work to do.
After 95 years of progress, the ADL knows that it won’t be easy, that
plenty of obstacles lie ahead, that the next steps will prove more
difficult and more challenging than ever before.
But that only means we must plow forward with even greater strength,
optimism, and determination to reach the goal of peace; to heal the
divisions of the past; and to realize the vision of a time when
“justice flows like water, righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Thank you. And I hope you have a productive meeting.