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ADL Draws Fire for Cordoba House Stance

Foxman fails to reconcile group’s position, values

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ADL Director Abraham Foxman.(Life)

The Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to Cordoba House, the Islamic center planned for two blocks away from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, has become news itself. J.J. Goldberg provides a nice round-up of infuriated center-left voices (though he omits contributing editor Jeff Goldberg’s and TNR’s Jonathan Chait’s).

Meanwhile, contributing editor Seth Lipsky’s New York Sun editorializes in favor of the ADL’s decision and credits prominent opponent Sarah Palin with having seichel (one of us, one of us?).

In its statement (which, as Bradley Burston notes, “sounds like unfiltered honesty”), the ADL justifies its stance with reference purely to the survivors’ interests. But whatever Abraham Foxman and the rest of the ADL’s decision-makers may believe as private citizens, the ADL’s mission is not to advocate for survivors’ rights; it is to advocate (as its mission statement says) for “democratic ideals” and “civil rights.” Given that the people behind the Cordoba House are, by the ADL’s own admission, private, law-abiding citizens going through the proper channels to try to achieve a private, Constitutionally protected goal, it is indisputable that those sworn to uphold “democratic ideals” and “civil rights” are obliged to take their side.

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” Foxman apparently said. Okay then: If the dictates of Foxman’s conscience compel him not to align the ADL on the side of Cordoba House, then one could muster respect for that. But then the solution would be to have the ADL say nothing at all—not to harness it to go precisely against its self-declared, century-old values. To continue to promote itself and accept donations on the basis of those values would border on dishonest.

Anti-Defamation League Rebuked for Opposition to Planned Mosque at N.Y.’s Ground Zero [Haaretz]
Earlier: ADL Comes Out Against Ground Zero Center

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mbsocol says:

Do you have any sense of how the swift and rather intense outrage sweeping American Jews is playing out internally for ADL? Joe Klein’s call for Foxman to be fired – much though I agree – seemed stark to me, at first. But as more and more prominent voices line up to denounce the organization, I can’t help but wonder whether its Board is considering some drastic action. I can’t think of a single incident that has come close to damaging ADL as badly as this has.

Josh says:

Ugh! What a stupid move, Abe… The ADL should have just kept quiet. Now they’ve attracted a hornet’s nest! And to what gain? None whatsoever. It’s not like the ADL coming out against Cordoba House is going to make it any less likely that it will be built.

Adam says:

The ADL compromise its ethics for politicized reasons? Shocking, just shocking…need we rehash its perspective on the Turkish genocide of Armenians?

The ADL could have been a positive force in leading a discussion along these lines — creating some kind of forum in which supporters of the center, victims, and politial opponents could have weighed these charged issues in a responsible way. (ADL’s mission statement talks about the way it “develops and delivers educational programs” and “fosters interfaith/intergroup relations.”)

Maybe that would have come off as wishy-washy, but sometimes ’tis nobler to admit a degree of ambivalence, or just keep your mouth shut, than to indulge your addiction for the headline-making thumbs up/thumbs down.

Marc: I’d grant your point about how the ADL’s statements should be constrained by the organization’s mission if I heard more (actually, have there been _any_?) liberal commentators and Democratic politicians making the ADL’s point: “you have the _right_ to do this, but you shouldn’t do it _there._” But all the liberal commentators seem to think that there’s nothing at all to say against having an Islamic Center two blocks away from Ground Zero, and Democratic politicians must (wrongly) think that weighing in in any way would constitute state infringement of religious freedom. Cordoba House’s imam refuses to condemn Hamas, and has said, about 9/11, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” Given all of that, is it really so unreasonable for the ADL to have said what it said? What I’m amazed by, frankly, are your, Jeffrey Goldberg’s and Jonathan Chait’s responses.

Paul Jeser says:

Y’shar Koach to Abe Foxman and the ADL for having the strength and guts to take a ‘non-PC’ stance on this issue.

Too many Jews have been drinking the Kool Aid and just don’t understand what is going on.

For a reality check, watch this video:

Greg Blum says:

The writer (Marc Tracy) states that the ADL is “obliged to take their side”, because evidently what they are doing is not against the law. Come again?

In order to prevent “never again”, we might remember that in many times and many places, what people were doing was not against the law, or they won power legally… and then… too many examples in history to repear here.

Of course missing from this biased piece of journalism is this quote by the ADL…“some legitimate questions have been raised” about funding and possible ties with “groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values.”

Wow… now the story sounds a little different doesn’t it?

Perhaps the ADL is actually concerned about this situation, so they had to retreat from their comfortable leftish agenda. That alone should give pause to all of us that is watching the situation.

David says:

Foxman should be fired — quickly and unceremoniously.

Phillip Cohen says:

This is an unfortunate incident. The ADL has played and will continue to play an important role in fighting biggotry. Some of my brothers and sisters on the right elected to measure what Abe Foxman and the ADL should do based on critiera other then that which the American constitution supports. This would, of all judgements, be an erroneous one. I think a clear majority of Jewish people in the United States prefer our country to maintain a separation between religious institutions and state.
Abe may need to resign.

Philip: The ADL isn’t a government agency. How, exactly, has it violated the separation between religious institutions and the state with its statement?

David says:

Since so many people here support a Mosque whose leading Imam won’t repudiate HAMAS, blames US foreign policy for the attack and most importantly won’t open the books on who is funding this building, should come out and support the rebuilding of a convent at Auschwitz.

Oh but THAT is different. Sure it is…

A mosque shouldn’t be built near Ground Zero just like a Christian Church, convent, etc, shouldn’t be built near a concentration camp. Its just in bad taste.

watchman55 says:

People should stand in opposition of Muslim infiltration/assimilation – we have 55 other Islamic ruled countries to teach us how this story will end. Almost 56, as UK is in deep trouble.

What I really take issue with over and above this, is the comments “Holocaust (and 9/11) victims have a right to be irrational”

Irrational? 6 million Jews tortured and murdered; 3,000 Americans murdered; our men and women fighting overseas and dying…..

And you call this irrational? How dare you!

I suggest that irrational is Muslim ‘religion’ stoning and flogging people, including a pregnant woman and a man in a wheelchair. Poisoning the minds of innocent children with their filth and hate in the name of a false god.

Islam/Muslim is not a religion…it is a tyrannical,eglomaniacal politicaly movement no different than Hitler, Mussolini, Amin, Pol Pot, Castro, and the list goes on.

Islam/Muslim hides behind the skirt of religion in order to carry out their obscene, murderous and ungodly agenda.

R. Miller says:

Foxman or any future leader of the ADL should not be bigger than the ADL. Abe should have followed the “Think twice and talk once” process. As far as the mission of the ADL, I thought the mission is to fight what may may happen after the Cordoba House was built – I.E. they become a place that encourages radicals to meet, make statements that are against another religion, ethnic group, etc. . . .But not before. . . Like they did in this case.

Fnord says:

I find it funny in a tragic kind of way that those opposing the Cordoba house are using the exact method of argumentation that has been used by anti-semites throughout the ages.

“Islam/Muslim hides behind the skirt of religion in order to carry out their obscene, murderous and ungodly agenda.”

Thats an almost exact replica of the blood libel directed against jews throughout the ages. That ADL seems to have joined in on an initiative started by open racists and bigots like Pamela Geller, who thinks the president is Malcolm Xs kenyan lovechild, speaks volumes. As for the other “arguments”, that any muslim building in lower Manhattan will be a “victory monument” is so wrong in so many places that I dont know where to begin. One would have thought that jews of all people would be aware of the problems with letting individual actions tarnish a whole ethnic and religious group. Its like saying that Bernie Madoff is the proof that all jews are swindlers and liars. Im also shocked by Hoffmans claim that irrational reactions are justified because of emotions. The Cordoba house was a non-issue until Pam Geller and the haters got the ball rolling. Now Palin, Gingrich and Foxman are embracing the message of hate that was started by bin Laden. If Zawahiri is online, he must be laughing his head off.

TheDevilCanDance says:


Yes indeed ,Arabs & Muslims are the Jews of the 21th century. What an irony.

David says:

“Yes indeed ,Arabs & Muslims are the Jews of the 21th century. What an irony.”

Yes America wants to round up Arabs/Muslims and murder them all by gassing them. Only an idiot would make that comparison. Oh wait, you do fit that bill.

With Abe Foxman at the head, ADL has made a habit of shooting itself in the foot. Think, for example, of Abe Foxman giving an award to Silvio Berlusconi, the tempest over acknowledging Turkey’s role in the Armenian genocide, the firing and then rehiring of Andrew Tarsy as the executive director of the New England ADL. When I am called on the phone and asked to contribute to ADL, as I did in the past, I always say “I shall contribute again when Abe Foxman is no longer at the head”, to which the fund solicitor usually replies “A lot of people say that”. It is time for the ADL executive board to recognize that new leadership is needed at the top, that Abe Foxman not synonymous with ADL.

manny says:

bradlee bursting comment s typical of a JEWISH moron. He wants to talk about civil right with those who would slit his throat.

A respect for the deaths at Ground Zero would include respect for the deaths of American Muslims at Ground Zero. A sensitivity toward survivors would include sensitivity toward all moderate Muslims, who are as much under attack from extremist Muslims as any of the rest of us are. If you demand that the terrorists be held accountable for their crimes, then hold THEM accountable, and don’t let them blame their actions on their religion.

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ADL Draws Fire for Cordoba House Stance

Foxman fails to reconcile group’s position, values

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