In the Arena

The Defamation League

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The journey of the (Anti-)Defamation League from beacon of tolerance to slightly potty geyser of toxic foolishness continues apace. Two years ago, Abe Foxman–the ADL’s very much over the hill president–accused me of anti-semitism for pointing out the Israel-first tendencies of more than a few neoconservatives, especially when it came to plumping for war with Iran (if you don’t believe me, read anything–anything–that the goofy harridan Jennifer Rubin writes about Israel or President Obama over at the Commentary blog). Then, earlier this year, Foxman accused David Petraeus of being anti-Israel for making the indisputable point the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t make life any easier for US troops fighting in the region. And now Foxman has hit the jackpot, joining the intolerant know-nothings who are seeking to block the establishment of a mosque–actually an Islamic center– near Ground Zero. The tragedy here is that the Islamic Center is precisely the sort of institution that the Anti-Defamation league traditionally supported:

Oz Sultan, the programming director for the center, said the complex was based on Jewish community centers and Y.M.C.A.’s in Manhattan. It is to have a board composed of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders and is intended to create a national model of moderate Islam.

“We are looking to build bridges between faiths,” Mr. Sultan said in an interview.

City officials, particularly Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have forcefully defended the project on the grounds of religious freedom, saying that government has no place dictating where a house of worship is located. The local community board has given overwhelming backing to the project, and the city’s landmarks commission is expected to do the same on Tuesday.

“What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us?” Mr. Bloomberg asked recently.

During the high-tide of anti-semitism, and then again during the civil-rights movement, and often since, the Anti-Defamation League transcended its Jewish origins to stand as a courageous American voice against prejudice. But now, it’s making a mockery of its original mission and, in the process, it has sullied American Judaism’s intense tradition of tolerance and inclusion.  I miss the old ADL and so does America. Foxman should be fired immediately. (Meanwhile, hooray yet again for Michael Bloomberg.)

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