In the Arena

The Anti-Defamation League’s House of Cards

House of Cards appropriately called out the Anti-Defamation League for devaluing the currency of Anti-Semitism. (UPDATE)

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Michael Kovac/WireImage

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, actress Drew Barrymore, and director Steven Spielberg attend the ADL Los Angeles Dinner Honoring Steven Spielberg at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 9, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.

I started watching House of Cards with trepidation since nothing–ever–could approach the brilliant original British series. But, lo and behold–and despite some teeth-gnashing inaccuracies about the processes of journalism and politics–it is, as the Brits might say, a cracking good show. 

And it’s a brave one, at times. The teachers unions don’t fare too well in the American version. And the Anti-Defamation League shines briefly and fairly accurately as an over-the-top, paranoid organization that finds anti-Semites under ever floorboard. This has roused the inevitable Abe Foxman to protest. The ADL would never call a member of Congress anti-semitic for opposing the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank! He opines. The ADL would merely be “sharply critical,” he says.

Excuse my chuckle. Sharply critical? The settlements are illegal and a major impediment to a peace settlement (as, of course, is the Palestinians’ refusal to acknowledge Israel’s existence–and the Hamas rockets that are fired from Gaza). And as for the wanton slinging of the anti-Semitic canard, Foxman once publicly accused me of anti-Semitism and I’ve been a strong supporter of Israel (but not its illegal settlements) all my life–including, by the way, the recent attack on Syria’s attempted transport of rockets to Hizballah and Israel’s surgical effort to hit Hamas arms caches in Gaza.

Foxman really needs to get ahold of himself or retire. Anti-Semitism exists. It is historically toxic and dangerous. But he is seriously devaluing the currency by throwing the accusation hither and yon–and House of Cards has called the ADL on it. Good for them.

Update: I can’t figure out how to respond to commenters using this new system, so I’ll do it here. Several commenters wanted to know what the teeth-gnashing inaccuracies were. Here they are:

1. a journalist would not be able to break a big, single-sourced story without telling her boss who the source is.

2. a neophyte journalist at a major newspaper would not be able to break the story without input, and perhaps collaboration, from the paper’s Congressional correspondents.

3. a major figure like the House Majority Whip would not leak such a potentially dangerous story to a reporter he does not know.

4. parasitic relationships involving the exchange of favors between politicians and journalists certainly do exist, but they develop over time, with trust.

But this is drama, not reality. So I’m willing to let it ride.