Abraham H. Foxman » ADL Blogs
July 3, 2014 0

Naftali, Eyal, Gilad & the Palestinian Culture of Hate

foxman1by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post and Jerusalem Post.

The bar­baric kid­nap­ping and mur­der of Naf­tali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar sent shock­waves of hor­ror across the world. For eigh­teen long days, decent peo­ple around the globe joined with Israelis and Jews anx­iously await­ing infor­ma­tion about the teens’ fate, hop­ing and pray­ing for their safe and quick return. When it was revealed ear­lier this week that the three young men would not be com­ing home, there was an out­pour­ing of grief and con­do­lences. Sym­pa­thies to the fam­i­lies were issued from the White House, the Vat­i­can, 10 Down­ing Street and other world cap­i­tals, while many held vig­ils and mil­lions took to social media to express their grief and sup­port dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time. The UN Secu­rity Coun­cil also issued an unusu­ally strong state­ment, intro­duced by the US, express­ing con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and con­demn­ing the killings as a “heinous act.”

Yet, sadly and per­haps unsur­pris­ingly, there were also those who cel­e­brated the kid­nap­ping and glo­ri­fied the murderer’s actions. In the days fol­low­ing the kid­nap­ping, social media was also abuzz with the “Three Fin­gers” cam­paign, with images depict­ing adults and chil­dren glee­fully per­form­ing a three-finger salute in sol­i­dar­ity with the kid­nap­pers’ actions. A related, ugly social media cam­paign, “Three Shal­its,” a ref­er­ence to the for­mer Israeli solider Gilad Shalit who was kid­napped by Hamas and exchanged for the release of over 1000 Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists, encour­aged the pub­lic to share three-finger pho­tos in sup­port of a sim­i­lar exchange of Pales­tini­ans for the kid­napped teens.

In a prac­tice all too famil­iar among Pales­tini­ans, some Gazans took to the streets to cel­e­brate the kid­nap­ping, express­ing sup­port for the kid­nap­pers while hand­ing out sweets to locals. Hamas offi­cials, while deny­ing Israel’s accu­sa­tions that they were behind the kid­nap­ping, praised the abduc­tion as a form of “resis­tance” against Israel, and, despite the recent unity deal with Fatah, denounced the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity for pro­vid­ing assis­tance in help­ing locate the teens.

And across the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries, many asserted the kid­nap­ping had been a ruse man­u­fac­tured by the Mossad and IDF to jus­tify Israeli mil­i­tary actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, when Israel released the names of the two sus­pected kid­nap­pers, the mother of one praised her son’s actions say­ing “If he truly did it, I’ll be proud of him until my final day.” There were even reports that the Israeli ambu­lance car­ry­ing the dead teens’ bod­ies was stoned by Pales­tini­ans as it trans­ported their remains to a foren­sics cen­ter for identification.

The truth is the jubi­la­tion exhib­ited towards the kid­nap­ping is not a new phe­nom­e­non. While the major­ity of Pales­tini­ans did not cel­e­brate the teens’ abduc­tion or sup­port the kid­nap­pers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas who issued a pub­lic state­ment con­demn­ing the kid­nap­ping, it is hard to ignore that a cul­ture of hatred has long existed among ele­ments within Pales­tin­ian society.

It is one that espouses pure hatred of Israelis, and often Jews, regard­less of their actions, and is wholly unin­ter­ested in liv­ing at peace with its neigh­bors. This hatred is implanted at a young age, fer­mented in extremist-run Pales­tin­ian schools which preach intol­er­ance and rejec­tion of Israel, cul­ti­vated in Hamas’ “sum­mer camps” where young boys are trained in military-style com­bat, and brought to action through active sup­port for and glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of ter­ror­ism and martyrdom.

Some jus­tify this ani­mos­ity, say­ing it is a nat­ural result of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and of Israel’s “occu­pa­tion” of the West Bank. Oth­ers point to extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety, who pro­mote hatred and even vio­lence towards Mus­lims and Arabs.

Cer­tainly, the con­flict has a daily impact on the qual­ity of Pales­tin­ian life, both phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal, and, to be sure, there are extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety. Indeed, in the hours fol­low­ing the funer­als of the three Israeli teens, extrem­ist Jews staged protests and riots in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, where of “Death to the Arabs” could be heard.

There were also reports of anti-Arab “Price Tag” attacks in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, as well as numer­ous social media post­ings con­tain­ing hate-filled and venge­ful mes­sages about Arabs and Pales­tini­ans. And, as of this writ­ing, there is the ter­ri­ble news of an abduc­tion and killing of a 16 year-old Pales­tin­ian boy from East Jerusalem, pos­si­bly a “revenge” act car­ried out by extrem­ist Jews, which has been widely con­demned by senior Israeli gov­ern­ment offi­cials and civil soci­ety lead­ers.

Unlike in Israel, where there is wide­spread rejec­tion of anti-Arab incite­ment and vio­lent activ­i­ties by extrem­ist Jews, a small group of indi­vid­u­als con­stantly mon­i­tored and pur­sued by Israeli law enforce­ment, the dis­con­tent within Pales­tin­ian soci­ety is fanned and incited into hatred by a wide­spread, unfet­tered sup­port for vio­lence against Jews and Israel.

While this cul­ture of hate is lim­ited to small seg­ments of Pales­tin­ian soci­ety in the West Bank and much more gen­er­ally in Gaza, its exis­tence is rou­tinely ignored by Pales­tin­ian lead­ers and oth­ers in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who fail to appre­ci­ate its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and, even excuse it.

As world lead­ers issue calls for Israel to restrain itself in respond­ing to this hor­rific tragedy, they must also rec­og­nize the nature of the enemy Israel is con­fronting, and actively pres­sure the Pales­tini­ans to coun­ter­act the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of bru­tal vio­lence against inno­cent Israeli cit­i­zens. Israel has a right and oblig­a­tion to defend its cit­i­zens against ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism of all kinds, and should be held in that regard to the same stan­dard as every other civ­i­lized nation.

Those in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who are truly con­cerned about end­ing the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict can­not ignore or excuse the cul­ture of hatred among Pales­tini­ans. Those sup­port­ing the new Hamas-Fatah unity gov­ern­ment should hold its lead­ers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas and other senior Pales­tin­ian Author­ity offi­cials, account­able for Pales­tin­ian enti­ties pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of hatred in schools and sum­mer camps, be they in Ramal­lah or Gaza.

Despite claims to the con­trary, the mur­ders of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad were not due to Israel’s pres­ence in the West Bank, the neg­li­gence of the Israeli police, or the actions of aver­age Pales­tini­ans. These three young men were killed by hate­ful peo­ple who had no regard for human­ity or the val­ues of life trea­sured by most. Until the world truly under­stands this evil and acts to com­bat it, cul­tures of hate like those respon­si­ble for tak­ing the lives of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad will sadly con­tinue to flourish.

July 2, 2014 0

European Directives Take Position on Settlements to New Extreme


by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League



In the past few weeks, the gov­ern­ments of Spain, Italy, Ger­many, France and the United King­dom issued direc­tives warn­ing cit­i­zens of risks involved for com­pa­nies engag­ing in eco­nomic activ­ity in Israeli West Bank set­tle­ments, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, includ­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of vio­lat­ing inter­na­tional law and human rights.

These moves have been linked to the pos­si­bil­ity of sim­i­lar action being taken by the entire Euro­pean Union.  At a moment when Hamas has abused its unity arrange­ment with Fatah to resume fir­ing rock­ets on Israeli civil­ians, and news has just been released that Hamas has viciously mur­dered the three Israeli teenagers it kid­napped eigh­teen days ago, the EU remains focused on Israeli settlements.

The EU’s bureau­cra­ti­za­tion of this pol­icy points to set­tle­ments as the key issue in the Israeli Pales­tin­ian con­flict, and the obsta­cle to a peace agreement.

In real­ity, the issue of set­tle­ments is but one of the numer­ous, con­tentious, emo­tional, issues which must be resolved through direct nego­ti­a­tions, along with the Pales­tin­ian demand for a “right of return”of refugees, the sta­tus of Jerusalem and final bor­ders and secu­rity arrangements.

The new Euro­pean direc­tives stand in stark con­trast to the real­i­ties on the ground in Israel and the region.

As has become typ­i­cal of such state­ments, the warn­ing focused solely on Israel, and made no men­tion of the Pales­tin­ian Authority-Hamas unity gov­ern­ment which con­tributed to the col­lapse of recent peace talks. Fur­ther­more, the warning’s sug­ges­tion that con­duct­ing busi­ness with pri­vate West Bank-based Israeli com­pa­nies could vio­late human rights takes the Euro­pean posi­tion on set­tle­ments to a new extreme.

Israel has a track record of dis­man­tling set­tle­ments in the name of peace, includ­ing those in the Sinai as part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, and has repeat­edly offered to dis­man­tle many West Bank set­tle­ments as part of a two state solu­tion with the Palestinians.

If Euro­pean gov­ern­ments wish to be seen as a con­struc­tive party in help­ing resolve the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, they must cease their unfair prac­tice of solely focus­ing on Israel’s set­tle­ment activ­ity, and hold the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity respon­si­ble for their own obstruc­tion­ist actions, includ­ing directly affil­i­at­ing with ter­ror­ist groups like Hamas.

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July 2, 2014 0

Thoughts on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act


by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post on July 2, 2014

Fifty years ago today, Pres­i­dent Lyn­don Baines John­son signed into law the land­mark Civil Rights Act of 1964. With the stroke of a pen, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment blot­ted out “sep­a­rate but equal,” put the power of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice behind deseg­re­ga­tion of pub­lic schools, and laid the foun­da­tion for racial, reli­gious and gen­der equal­ity in the workplace.

Despite the enor­mity of the change it ush­ered in, Rev. Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. hailed the leg­is­la­tion not as a vic­tory but as the “dawn of a new hope” and a “cool serene breeze in a long hot sum­mer” of racial oppres­sion. Dr. King rec­og­nized that the law did not mark the end of the strug­gle, but the begin­ning of fun­da­men­tal change.

A half-century later, the Civil Rights Act still stands as both a sig­nal achieve­ment and a reminder of the work that lies ahead for the attain­ment of true and last­ing equal­ity. The law dis­man­tled the edi­fice of “sep­a­rate but equal” in its most odi­ous form.

Today, the notion of a “Col­ored Only” drink­ing foun­tain seems alien and unthink­able. The Civil Rights Act changed more than the law; it changed atti­tudes. The recent down­fall of L.A. Clip­pers owner Don­ald Ster­ling demon­strates that the strongest enforcer of civil rights remains the court of pub­lic opinion.

In spite of the great progress that has already been achieved and the poten­tial for more, the promise of the Civil Rights Act has yet to be fully real­ized. The law autho­rized the Attor­ney Gen­eral to sue pub­lic schools for fail­ing to heed the charge of Brown v. Board of Edu­ca­tion to deseg­re­gate “with all delib­er­ate speed.” Today, an esti­mated 74 per­cent of African-American stu­dents and 79 per­cent of Latino stu­dents attend majority-minority schools.

Edu­ca­tion equity remains largely elu­sive. Less than one-third of schools serv­ing the most African Amer­i­can and Latino stu­dents offer cal­cu­lus. One-quarter of those schools do not even offer alge­bra II, 60 per­cent have no physics classes, and one-third do not offer chem­istry classes of any kind. Sixty years after Brown and fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, the work to close the edu­ca­tion equity gap continues.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act required employ­ers to pro­vide male and female work­ers equal pay for equal work. But a sub­stan­tial pay gap per­sists. The first piece of leg­is­la­tion signed into law by Pres­i­dent Obama–the Lilly Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act–makes it eas­ier for women to secure back-pay when they suf­fer years of unequal com­pen­sa­tion. In April, how­ever, another bill would have banned com­pa­nies from retal­i­at­ing against women for seek­ing equal pay. It was blocked in the Sen­ate. And, in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Supreme Court made it harder for female work­ers to band together to sue their employer for unequal pay, mak­ing it nearly impos­si­ble for women to wage costly lit­i­ga­tion bat­tles on their own.

For mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity, who are not explic­itly included in the Civil Rights Act, mon­u­men­tal change is afoot. Today, in most states, work­ers can still be fired or denied a job sim­ply for being gay. But in the com­ing days, we hope and expect Pres­i­dent Obama will amend an exist­ing exec­u­tive order bar­ring employ­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion by fed­eral con­trac­tors to add sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity to the list of pro­tected categories–a move that will extend work­place pro­tec­tions to approx­i­mately twenty per­cent of the nation’s work­force. The order could pave the way for leg­is­la­tion that would pro­hibit employ­ers from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against LGBT individuals.

Dr. King famously said, “The arc of the moral uni­verse is long, but it bends towards jus­tice.” The Civil Rights Act changed the face of the nation, bend­ing the arc sharply on July 2, 1964.

But much work remains. On the 50-year anniver­sary of its pas­sage, let us reded­i­cate our­selves to the task of build­ing a fairer, more just society.

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