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August 8, 2016 Off

White House Combats Religious Discrimination

On July 22, the White House hosted a Reli­gious Dis­crim­i­na­tion Con­ven­ing – cul­mi­nat­ing six months of com­mu­nity round­ta­bles held across the coun­try to high­light and insti­tu­tion­al­ize strate­gies to address reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion.  Con­ven­ing atten­dees heard from a num­ber of fed­eral offi­cials, includ­ing Neil Eggle­ston, White House Coun­sel, Melissa Rogers, Faith-Based Office Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Jenny Yang, Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion, and Cather­ine Lha­mon, Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Assis­tant Sec­re­tary for Civil Rights.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Wash­ing­ton Coun­sel, Michael Lieber­man, rep­re­sented ADL on a panel on Pre­vent­ing Religion-Based Hate Vio­lence and Attacks on Houses of Worship.

(From left to right) John Walsh, US Attorney for Colorado Moderator;  Megan Mack, Department of Homeland Security; Robert Moossy, Department of Justice; Paul Montiero, Department of Justice; Michael Lieberman, Anti-Defamation League; Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates.

(From left to right) John Walsh, US Attor­ney for Col­orado Mod­er­a­tor; Megan Mack, Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity; Robert Moossy, Depart­ment of Jus­tice; Paul Mon­tiero, Depart­ment of Jus­tice; Michael Lieber­man, Anti-Defamation League; Madi­hha Ahus­sain, Mus­lim Advocates.

A num­ber of new resources were unveiled at the event, including:

  • The Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) released an excel­lent new report on religion-based dis­crim­i­na­tion,  The report pre­sented find­ings from com­mu­nity round­ta­bles, includ­ing dis­turb­ing trends of religion-based dis­crim­i­na­tion in edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, hate crimes, and land use.  Impor­tantly, the report made a series of rec­om­men­da­tions to address these issues and includes a com­pre­hen­sive list­ing of fed­eral resources to address reli­gious discrimination.


DOJ has made fight­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion through the enforce­ment of the Reli­gious Land Use and Insti­tu­tion­al­ized Per­sons Act (RLUIPA) a pri­or­ity.  DOJ released an updated report on its enforce­ment of RLIUPA between 2010 and 2016.

  • The Depart­ment of Education’s Office of Civil Rights unveiled a new sec­tion of its web­site devoted to Reli­gious Dis­crim­i­na­tion.  The web­site aggre­gates rel­e­vant resources on bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion and reli­gious harass­ment.  In 2015–2016, for the first time, every pub­lic school in the nation will report to OCR on the num­ber of religion-based bul­ly­ing or harass­ment inci­dents in schools through the OCR data col­lec­tion tool, Civil Rights Data Col­lec­tion. Though they have col­lected bul­ly­ing infor­ma­tion since 2009, this is the first year they are ask­ing for religious-based data.

In addi­tion, OCR unveiled a revised online com­plaint form to clar­ify when it can inves­ti­gate com­plaints from indi­vid­u­als who believe they have expe­ri­enced racial, eth­nic, or national ori­gin dis­crim­i­na­tion involv­ing their religion.

  • The U.S. Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion (EEOC) announced it will col­lect more pre­cise data about the reli­gion of the indi­vid­ual alleg­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion.  EEOC released released a fact sheet, in Eng­lish and in Span­ish, pri­mar­ily designed for young work­ers to edu­cate them about their rights under the law.

The Obama Admin­is­tra­tion has made address­ing hate crimes and reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion a pri­or­ity.  These new resources and pro­gram­matic ini­tia­tives will help pave the way for fur­ther progress.

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August 5, 2016 3

Eyes on The Prize: In Pursuit of Racial Justice, Stick to the Facts and Avoid the Fiction

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

Black Lives Matter

Ear­lier this week, a col­lec­tive of more than 50 orga­ni­za­tions asso­ci­ated with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment (BLM) released a detailed plat­form, A Vision for Black Lives, Pol­icy Demands for Black Power, Free­dom & Jus­tice. There are other groups asso­ci­ated with BLM who have not signed onto the Plat­form and offered dif­fer­ent approaches. Nonethe­less, the Plat­form is bold and provoca­tive in its demands. It point­edly rejects many racial equal­ity approaches tried over the past four decades. Instead, the doc­u­ment pro­poses a trans­for­ma­tional pol­icy frame for many ideas that pre­vi­ously have been artic­u­lated by activists, schol­ars and writ­ers like Bryan Steven­sonMichelle Alexan­der and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

We do not agree with many of the spe­cific demands of the Plat­form, but the doc­u­ment appro­pri­ately high­lights the need to address mass incar­cer­a­tion and a wide range of racial inequities and socio-economic issues fac­ing African Amer­i­cans today. Beyond hand-wringing and soul-searching, the Plat­form pro­poses a num­ber of spe­cific legal, admin­is­tra­tive, and leg­isla­tive reme­dies to address iden­ti­fied challenges.

We appre­ci­ate these points because the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply com­mit­ted to address­ing many of these issues, too. ADL’s long­time ded­i­ca­tion to fight­ing big­otry in all forms includes build­ing a just soci­ety where fair and equal treat­ment is guar­an­teed for all. Along with coali­tion part­ners, we are tack­ling crit­i­cal civil rights issues such as end­ing racial pro­fil­ing, address­ing edu­ca­tional equity and eco­nomic inequal­i­ties, dis­rupt­ing the school-to-prison pipeline and reform­ing our crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

This work is not new. For decades, we have been work­ing closely with our civil rights part­ners in the hard fight to advance a shared agenda of equal­ity, jus­tice, and respect for human dig­nity through lead­er­ship work in edu­ca­tion, leg­is­la­tion, and lit­i­ga­tion. Where pos­si­ble, we want to engage with a range of activists to achieve these goals.

But would-be allies in the strug­gle for civil and human rights along with jus­tice and fair treat­ment can­not ignore the Platform’s false and bla­tantly one-sided posi­tion on US-Israel rela­tions and Israeli-Palestinian issues. We cat­e­gor­i­cally reject the document’s crit­i­cism of the United States and Israel as being “com­plicit in the geno­cide tak­ing place against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple.” The Jew­ish com­mu­nity knows too much about genocide.

What­ever one’s posi­tion on the rela­tion­ship between Israel, its Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zens, and the res­i­dents in the West Bank and Gaza, it’s repel­lent and com­pletely inac­cu­rate to label Israel’s pol­icy as “geno­cide.” And the Plat­form com­pletely ignores incite­ment and vio­lence per­pe­trated against Israelis by some Pales­tini­ans, includ­ing ter­ror inside the coun­try and rocket attacks lobbed from Gaza. Unfor­tu­nately, these phe­nom­ena are not new but have been chal­lenges that have faced the Jew­ish state since its incep­tion more than half a cen­tury ago.

We strongly dis­agree with the Platform’s erro­neous broad-brush con­flat­ing of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict with civil and human rights abuses dis­cussed in the doc­u­ment. Although Israel is far from a prin­ci­pal focal point in the more than 40,000-word doc­u­ment, it’s the irre­spon­si­ble and com­pletely over-the-top ref­er­ences to the Jew­ish state — as well as later gross mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of Israel as “an apartheid state,” and calls for sup­port of the BDS move­ment (boy­cott, divest­ment and sanc­tions against Israel) that alien­ate us and bear lit­tle resem­blance to real­ity. These points are wrong on the facts and offen­sive in tone. Impor­tantly, for ADL and many in the Jew­ish com­mu­nity, such false char­ac­ter­i­za­tions and mis­guided calls to action dis­tract us from the task of address­ing other, critically-important jus­tice and equal­ity priorities.

So let’s work to keep our eyes on the prize.

In the past few weeks, we have seen sig­nif­i­cant progress in push­ing back against state voter sup­pres­sion laws and advanc­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms. The Jus­tice Depart­ment is appro­pri­ately high­light­ing the need to address the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of povertyThe President’s Task Force on 21st Cen­tury Polic­ing is actively pro­mot­ing many worth­while ideas to increase police account­abil­ity and enhance police-community relations.

The vital issues of racial jus­tice we are con­fronting now — and the need to directly com­bat extrem­ism, hate vio­lence, immi­grant bash­ing, and stereo­typ­ing — require sus­tained com­mit­ments. They neces­si­tate a dis­ci­plined, relent­less focus. They demand clear-headed, fact based approaches.

We can­not walk away. We can­not be dis­tracted or dispir­ited. Those of us com­mit­ted to jus­tice can­not afford to stray from address­ing the very real injus­tices fac­ing our communities.

We are com­mit­ted to doing just that.

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August 4, 2016 9

Teachable Moments Abound in Khizr Khan’s Convention Speech

Khazir Khan - DNCOn the final night at the Demo­c­ra­tic National Con­ven­tion, a Mus­lim Amer­i­can cou­ple named Khizr and Ghaz­ala Khan came to the stage and deliv­ered a patri­otic speech about their son, a U.S. Army Cap­tain who died in 2004 in Iraq serv­ing his coun­try. Khizr Khan, as his wife looked on, spoke for a mere six min­utes. The speech was so riv­et­ing that the dis­cus­sion about it con­tin­ued into the next day and beyond, many peo­ple call­ing it was one of the most pow­er­ful Con­ven­tion speeches.

In the speech, Khan talked about his son and his ulti­mate sac­ri­fice, Amer­i­can patri­o­tism and immi­gra­tion. He strongly chal­lenged the Islam­o­pho­bia and biased tone of the cur­rent pres­i­den­tial campaign.

In the days fol­low­ing the speech, sev­eral con­tro­ver­sies arose and it occu­pied much of cable news’ air­time. Ghaz­ala Khan was ques­tioned for not speak­ing. Alle­ga­tions cir­cu­lated that she may not have been “allowed” to speak, imply­ing it was due to her being Mus­lim. It was also said that Khizr Khan “had no right to say” what he said. In fact, iron­i­cally, the Con­sti­tu­tion (which he used as a prop and referred to sev­eral times) allows him to express his thoughts freely. In the after­math, promi­nent Democ­rats includ­ing Pres­i­dent Obama and high-ranking Repub­li­cans denounced the harsh words directed at the Khans.

The speech and sub­se­quent pub­lic dis­course pro­vides a teach­able moment to talk with young people—in the class­room or around the kitchen table—about a num­ber of related issues. Below are those issues and some open-ended ques­tions with which fam­i­lies and edu­ca­tors may start the conversation.

Our Con­sti­tu­tional Rights

A dra­matic moment in Khan’s speech was when he pulled out his pocket copy of the Con­sti­tu­tion and asserted the impor­tance of “lib­erty” and “equal pro­tec­tion (under) law.”  That sin­gle action drove sales of the Con­sti­tu­tion pocket ver­sion to hit the top 10 best­selling books on Ama­zon. And that’s a good thing for democ­racy and pub­lic aware­ness of our Con­sti­tu­tional rights, includ­ing reli­gious free­dom and free­dom of speech. Among other find­ings, a 2014 study of stu­dent and teacher per­spec­tives on the First Amend­ment found that stu­dents who take a class deal­ing with the First Amend­ment are more likely to sup­port First Amend­ment rights. It also found that, for the first time, Amer­i­can high school stu­dents show a greater over­all appre­ci­a­tion for the First Amend­ment than do adults.

Fol­low­ing the speech, there were state­ments made that Khizr Khan “has no right” to raise ques­tions about the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. In fact, one of Khan’s main points was that the Con­sti­tu­tion allows him free­dom of speech and he was, in fact, allowed to make crit­i­cal com­ments about politicians.

Ques­tions for Discussion:

  • In his speech, what point did Khizr Khan make about the Constitution?
  • What do you know about the Constitution?
  • What did Khan’s words about the Con­sti­tu­tion have to do with immi­grants and patriotism?

Stereo­types of Muslims

In the after­math of the speech, ques­tions were force­fully raised about why Ghaz­ala Khan stood at the podium and didn’t say any­thing, charg­ing that “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have any­thing to say.” This per­pet­u­ates the myth and stereo­type that Mus­lim women are sub­servient to men. In response to these accu­sa­tions, Ghaz­ala Khan spoke up on her own behalf and in addi­tion, Mus­lim women posted on social media using the hash­tag #CanYou­HearUs­Now in defi­ance of that label. Fur­ther, in sev­eral TV inter­views about the speech, oth­ers slipped in the words “rad­i­cal Islamist ter­ror­ists,” seem­ingly in an attempt to con­flate the Khan fam­ily with terrorism—another com­mon stereotype.

Ques­tions for Discussion:

  • What are some of the stereo­types you have heard about Mus­lims and how do you see this play­ing out in the lat­est controversy?
  • How does what you learned about the Khans or any­thing else in the news dis­pel the stereotypes?
  • In what ways are stereo­types harm­ful and what can we do about them?

Being an Ally When Fac­ing Bias

When Khizr Khan spoke about his son and his views on the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, he spoke not only about the mis­treat­ment and big­otry directed at Mus­lims dur­ing this elec­tion but also about other immi­grants, minori­ties and women. Khan used his voice to amplify the voices of oth­ers. Being an ally in small and large ways is an impor­tant les­son and skill to teach our chil­dren. In addi­tion to Khan’s ally behav­ior dur­ing the Con­ven­tion, when he and his wife were attacked, other politicians—both Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats alike—rose to be their allies and speak on behalf of them and all vet­er­ans and Gold Star fam­i­lies (bereaved fam­ily mem­bers of U.S. Armed Forces members).

Ques­tions for Discussion:

  • What does it mean to be an ally, on a per­sonal and polit­i­cal level?
  • How did Khizr Khan act as an ally and how did oth­ers act as an ally to him when he was attacked?
  • What can we do to be allies to peo­ple who are mis­treated, stereo­typed and dis­crim­i­nated against?

The Immi­grant Experience

Khan spoke pas­sion­ately about his expe­ri­ence as an immi­grant, mak­ing clear his “undi­vided loy­alty to our coun­try” and shar­ing his com­mon expe­ri­ence of com­ing to this coun­try empty-handed. He explained that they believed in democ­racy and that with hard work and good­ness, they could “share in and con­tribute to its bless­ings.” The United States is a nation of immi­grants and should always seek ways to build bridges rather than walls. As Khan stated, “We can­not solve our prob­lems by build­ing walls, sow­ing divi­sion. We are stronger together.” Indeed, a cul­ture of bias and big­otry towards immi­grants hurts all of us.

Ques­tions for Discussion:

  • How does Khizr Khan’s expe­ri­ence as an immi­grant inform his per­spec­tive on U.S. democracy?
  • How are the dif­fer­ent points of view about immi­grants and immi­gra­tion being dis­cussed dur­ing this pres­i­den­tial election?
  • How is the Khan family’s expe­ri­ence sim­i­lar to or dif­fer­ent from the expe­ri­ences of your fam­ily or your friend’s families?
  • What do you already know about immi­gra­tion and what do you want to know?

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