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July 15, 2016 Off

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees

FB-DNC-RNC-Platforms

Over the next two weeks, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats con­vene their con­ven­tions – the equiv­a­lent of the MLB All-Star Game for polit­i­cal junkies. While the con­ven­tions are often a spec­ta­cle of polit­i­cal the­ater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken cen­ter stage is over­shad­ow­ing impor­tant pol­icy issues.

This hasn’t hap­pened in a vac­uum.  For years, America’s polit­i­cal debate has been slid­ing toward greater polar­iza­tion and acri­mony, leav­ing lit­tle space for the give-and-take that is vital to the pub­lic pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion and a healthy demo­c­ra­tic process. Even where Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can find com­mon ground, as they do on issues like crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, there seems to be lit­tle incen­tive for either party to compromise.

These diver­sions would be unhelp­ful in any elec­tion year.  But there are seri­ous issues fac­ing Amer­i­cans today, issues that require seri­ous debate. Amer­i­cans across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are reel­ing from the shoot­ing death of African-Americans Alton Ster­ling and Phi­lando Castile and the mass mur­der of police offi­cers in Dal­las. And ter­ror­ist mas­sacres tar­get­ing a gay night club in Orlando and gov­ern­ment work­ers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by vio­lent Islamist groups like ISIS. What­ever one’s views about how to address this vio­lence and the range of inter­twined issues it raises, Amer­i­cans deserve a prob­ing and con­struc­tive national debate rather than a con­test to see who can score the most polit­i­cal points.

In for­mal sub­mis­sions to the Plat­form Com­mit­tees of both par­ties, ADL has urged that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats address a range of impor­tant issues in an urgent way. Inter­na­tion­ally, the U.S. must con­tinue to play a lead­er­ship role in the fight against ter­ror­ism; in ensur­ing that Israel remains strong and secure; in pro­mot­ing peace and respect for human rights across the Mid­dle East and else­where around the globe; and in speak­ing out against a dis­turb­ing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domes­ti­cally, our sub­mis­sion also addresses a vari­ety of issues, for exam­ple assert­ing the urgent need for progress on vot­ing rights, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, expanded legal pro­tec­tion for the LGBT com­mu­nity, refugee rights, and gun vio­lence prevention.

ADL has had a long­stand­ing prac­tice of sub­mit­ting its pol­icy agenda to both par­ties, and has called on cam­paigns to reject char­ac­ter attacks and the use of big­otry in numer­ous cam­paign sea­sons.  This year, ADL is host­ing events at both con­ven­tions that focus on find­ing space for sub­stan­tive debate and col­lab­o­ra­tion toward progress in order to get down to the seri­ous busi­ness of address­ing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fall­out will linger unless we can ele­vate the qual­ity of the debate mov­ing for­ward.  It is incum­bent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of big­otry or char­ac­ter attacks by any can­di­date, and to pro­mote a pub­lic debate based on facts, evi­dence and civil discourse.

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March 17, 2016 3

Reconciliation Cannot Mean Turning a Blind Eye to Farrakhan’s Anti-Semitism

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Farrakhan - Iran

As the new CEO of ADL, I have recom­mit­ted ADL to our his­toric civil rights agenda. In my short tenure as head of ADL, I have brought my lead­er­ship team to the cra­dle of the civil rights move­ment in Atlanta, Selma and Mont­gomery to recom­mit to our immense task of achiev­ing equal jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all. We have vig­or­ously lob­bied Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion to undo the dam­age to the Vot­ing Rights Act caused by the Supreme Court rul­ing in 2013; we have chan­neled our out­rage after the tragedy in Charleston to launch a coalition-based cam­paign of #50StatesAgainstHate to ensure that all states have effec­tive hate crime laws to pro­tect African-Americans and other mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties; and we have taken up issues of edu­ca­tion equity and the school to prison pipeline. And we are com­mit­ting to address­ing the injus­tice of mass incar­cer­a­tion, inci­dents of police bru­tal­ity and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform.

In the name of work­ing to ensure equal­ity, how­ever, we are unwill­ing to give a pass to anti-Semitism and hate as exhib­ited by Louis Far­rakhan and the Nation of Islam.

Indeed, one of the prin­ci­ples that under­lie efforts to pro­vide rights for all is the need to stand against big­otry wher­ever it sur­faces. That was why I was frus­trated to read Rus­sell Sim­mons’ blog on Louis Far­rakhan – “The Nation of Islam and the Anti-Defamation League– Now Is the Time to Mend Fences.”

Civil rights and social jus­tice are core pri­or­i­ties for ADL under my lead­er­ship. But let me be clear: When it comes to the big­otry of Louis Far­rakhan, there is not one iota sep­a­rat­ing me from my predecessor.

It always was true and remains so today that expos­ing and con­demn­ing Farrakhan’s hatred does not mean that he is beyond redemp­tion. All of us should admit that we can do bet­ter.  But the onus for “mend­ing fences” is not on the tar­gets of his hate, but on Min­is­ter Far­rakhan himself.

Min­is­ter Far­rakhan, like oth­ers who engage in hate, has the oppor­tu­nity to change. He could repu­di­ate his long his­tory of anti-Semitic state­ments, speeches and pub­li­ca­tions.  He could pub­licly com­mit never again to engage in such big­otry.  When this hap­pens, it could be a his­toric moment and an oppor­tu­nity to turn a new page.

But he has not done so. In fact, in recent years, he has actu­ally dou­bled down on his anti-Semitic rants, accus­ing Jews of respon­si­bil­ity for 9–11, which he describes as “a false flag oper­a­tion that was designed to…so frighten, alarm, and anger the Amer­i­can peo­ple that they could direct that anger against the Mus­lim world.” He has spun con­spir­acy the­o­ries of nefar­i­ous Jew­ish con­trol of the African-American com­mu­nity, of America’s polit­i­cal sys­tem and media, and just about any other con­spir­acy the­ory that anti-Semites peddle.

We know that many in the African-American com­mu­nity have pos­i­tive feel­ings toward Min­is­ter Far­rakhan. We know that he has done much for his community.

I appre­ci­ate that Rus­sell Sim­mons wants to see rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. I know Rus­sell is authen­tic in his desire to bring the par­ties together.  And I am sure that many oth­ers would like to see a sim­i­lar rap­proche­ment. But it’s unfor­tu­nate that Rus­sell dis­misses the long his­tory of hatred that has char­ac­ter­ized Min­is­ter Farrakhan’s remarks. But Farrakhan’s big­otry can­not so eas­ily be brushed aside.

There is long his­tory of big­otry that ADL has con­sis­tently spo­ken out against.  And this is not ancient his­tory. As recently as last week, Far­rakhan reit­er­ated his obses­sion with Jews and our “wicked­ness.” And in prior pub­lic state­ments, we have heard his racism, his hate­ful state­ments directed at the LGBT com­mu­nity, and some­times his use of vio­lent rhetoric.

And the prob­lem is com­pounded when good peo­ple like Rus­sell Sim­mons will­fully ignore this real­ity or opt to min­i­mize such hos­til­ity, and then end up blam­ing ADL for the alien­ation from Far­rakhan. There undoubt­edly are pos­i­tive aspects to Min­is­ter Farrakhan’s mes­sage to mem­bers of the African-American com­mu­nity, but no one should get a pass for hatred.

To set the record straight, there is no truth to the accu­sa­tion that ADL calls “every African Amer­i­can leader an anti-Semite.” This is an out­ra­geous charge on its face, con­sid­er­ing that ADL has worked on behalf of civil rights in this coun­try for decades. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. was an ally and my pre­de­ces­sor marched along­side him in Selma and stood with him at the White House. ADL and African Amer­i­can lead­ers have worked hand in hand on many issues for generations.

While it is true that some pub­lic fig­ures from the African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity have made big­oted state­ments that we have crit­i­cized, we have done the same when lead­ers from other com­mu­ni­ties also expressed anti-Semitism or other forms of prej­u­dice, and even crit­i­cized big­otry from mem­bers of our own community.

But to say, how­ever, that we accused Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young and other Black lead­ers of being anti-Semites is flat out wrong and deeply hurt­ful. Yet this is a trope that Min­is­ter Far­rakhan has used to wash him­self clean of the very real charge levied against him for his hate. It is dis­ap­point­ing to see that Rus­sell has restated these false claims.

ADL will con­tinue to rein­vig­o­rate its work on the civil rights agenda because our mis­sion and val­ues com­pel us to. This work is a moral imper­a­tive in ful­fill­ment of our mis­sion to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all. In pur­suit of that mis­sion, we will con­tinue to expose and vig­or­ously con­demn big­otry wher­ever it appears, includ­ing the anti-Semitism and big­otry of Louis Farrakhan.

But all of us can change.  When Min­is­ter Far­rakhan is ready to make the same moral choice – to treat all of God’s chil­dren with the same dig­nity and respect – and pub­licly speak out against anti-Semitism or big­otry toward oth­ers whom he has demeaned, we will be ready to engage with him.

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January 19, 2016 4

MLK & ADL: Because the Work is Not Yet Done

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

MLK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we mark the 87th birth­day of Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. It also has been just over 180 days since I took the helm of the Anti-Defamation League(ADL), an orga­ni­za­tion founded more than 100 years ago in pur­suit of a dream that MLK labored to achieve his entire life: to fight big­otry and cre­ate a more just soci­ety. MLK and ADL shared a path that today seems per­haps even more inter­twined than ever before.

ADL was cre­ated in Octo­ber 1913, forged in the cru­cible of anti-Semitism. Our founders sought to rid the world of that age-old scourge even as they equally endeav­ored to drive an agenda of civil rights and social jus­tice. MLK was born 16 years later, and he matured into a civil rights leader in the 1950s, ded­i­cat­ing him­self to expos­ing the bru­tal­ity of the Jim Crow South and dis­man­tling its dis­crim­i­na­tory sys­tem of insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism and oppression.

ADL sup­ported MLK and the move­ment in its ear­li­est days. In 1954, we filed an ami­cus brief in the land­mark Brown v Board of Edu­ca­tion deci­sion. Ben Epstein, one of my pre­de­ces­sors who led ADL in the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury, directed the orga­ni­za­tion to work hand in hand with African Amer­i­can lead­ers. MLK and Epstein stood together in Selma as Epstein recruited his entire exec­u­tive team to march across the Edmund Pet­tis Bridge for that sto­ried march in Feb­ru­ary 1965. And later,​ MLK and Epstein again stood side by side in the Rose Gar­den with Pres­i­dent John­son and Attor­ney Gen­eral Kennedy, cel­e­brat­ing the gains of the move­ment and cement­ing the Black-Jewish alliance.

In recent years, how­ever, many have lamented of the fray­ing of the alliance. Diver­gent inter­ests in the ensu­ing decades have alien­ated many in our com­mu­ni­ties. Some sim­ply have for­got­ten the his­tory. Oth­ers have cho­sen to sub­or­di­nate it to other more press­ing con­cerns. But the thing about his­tory is that it always remains, per­haps just under the sur­face, but it still endures.

In my role as CEO of ADL, I have sought to re-energize that his­tory. Just last month, I led my first “lead­er­ship retreat,” bring­ing together my exec­u­tive team of pro­fes­sion­als and lay lead­ers. Yet, rather than hun­ker down near our head­quar­ters in Man­hat­tan, I opted to visit the Amer­i­can South so we could exam­ine the legacy of the alliance that defined the Amer­i­can Civil Rights move­ment and reflect on our part in it.

We started in Atlanta at Ebenezer Bap­tist Church, not only where MLK preached and the lan­guage of the move­ment took shape, but the site where we pre­viewed #50StatesAgainst Hate last August in the wake of the Charleston​ mas­sacre. #50States is a new nation­wide effort to ensure com­pre­hen­sive hate crimes laws are passed in all 50 states so that all peo­ple of all back­grounds have the pro­tec­tion that they deserve.

We then trav­eled to Mont­gomery and lis­tened to Bryan Steven­son whose land­mark work at the Equal Jus­tice Ini­tia­tive on crim­i­nal jus­tice issues and sen­tenc­ing reform strikes me as some of the most impor­tant con­tem­po­rary work in this field. We spent time in Selma, lit­er­ally walk­ing the same route across the Edmund Pet­tis Bridge that MLK, Epstein, and oth­ers walked 50 years ear­lier. Although we faced none of the hatred and vio­lence that con­fronted those marchers, we were struck by the his­tory of the moment.

Yet the retreat was not intended sim­ply to cel­e­brate our past. It was designed to remind ​us of the respon­si­bil­ity of the inher­i­tance bequeathed to us by Dr. King and Epstein. It was about climb­ing that hill of his­tory so that we might root our­selves in our legacy but also to use its van­tage point to look out at the hori­zon at the great chal­lenges that remain before us today. For surely, the work is not done.

As we con­sider the ris­ing inequal­ity in our coun­try between the rich and the very poor, we know the work is not done. As we con­sider the con­trast between our grad­u­a­tion rates and incar­cer­a­tion rates, we know the work is not done. As we con­sider the inabil­ity of our laws and the fail­ure of our cul­ture to pro­tect all vul­ner­a­ble groups from dis­crim­i­na­tion, we know the work is not done. As we observe the coars­en­ing of the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion and the rise of extrem­ism, we know our work is not done.

To para­phrase MLK, change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitabil­ity, but comes through con­tin­u­ous strug­gle. On this MLK Day, we recom­mit to the strug­gle — to straight­en­ing our backs and press­ing for­ward with the hard work of stop­ping the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple, stem­ming the tide of big­otry in all forms, and secur­ing jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all.

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