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February 3, 2016 1

Our New Forum For Ideas, ADL@SALON

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Salon-ADLLogo

I have always believed that it takes more than one per­son, one leader, or one insti­tu­tion to solve the tough­est chal­lenges. As I began my tenure as CEO six months ago, I real­ized that in order to achieve our time­less mis­sion — to stop the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple and to secure fair treat­ment and jus­tice to all — we would need to har­ness the ener­gies of inno­va­tion and dis­cover new ways to sharpen our focus on the most rel­e­vant issues fac­ing our com­mu­nity and our nation. We would need to broaden our tent, to attract the bright­est peo­ple, and to wel­come new ideas.

That is why I’m thrilled today to launch a new ini­tia­tive aimed at open­ing our minds to the cut­ting edge, to bring together diver­gent voices into dia­logue in an open and unfet­tered exchange.

We’re call­ing it ADL@Salon.

To meet the demands of a cen­tury defined by rapid change, it is my belief that ADL trans­form itself into a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion, one capa­ble of con­tin­u­ous rein­ven­tion. In short, an orga­ni­za­tion that thrives on innovation.

In this still new cen­tury, we face what can seem insur­mount­able chal­lenges with­out obvi­ous solu­tions. As Pres­i­dent Obama took note of just last week, anti-Semitism is unde­ni­ably ris­ing around the world. We face fail­ing and failed states breed­ing extrem­ism, such as the grow­ing influ­ence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and their affil­i­ates around the Mid­dle East. We face racism in many guises, from police bru­tal­ity to edu­ca­tion inequal­ity.

Our polit­i­cal dis­course is stained by appeals to stereo­typ­ing and scape­goat­ing. We see hard won gains in women’s rights and LGBT rights at risk of being rolled back. Around the world and even here at home, we see trou­bling trends in cam­paigns to de-legitimize and demo­nize the state of Israel, even as the con­flict between Israel and its neigh­bors seems as intractable as ever.

Build­ing the coali­tions that are will­ing to think through the solu­tions to these great chal­lenges undoubt­edly means widen­ing the tent. It means gath­er­ing input and ideas from a greater range of voices, even those with whom we might disagree.

As hatred and extrem­ism migrate to the uncharted realm of the inter­net, as the very def­i­n­i­tion of social move­ments has been fun­da­men­tally trans­formed by new modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­mu­nity, we must build the engines that spark new ideas and new approaches.

Inspired by the intense exchanges in Euro­pean cafés that led to inven­tions and rev­o­lu­tions in pol­i­tics and sci­ence which shaped the mod­ern world, ADL@Salon aims to bring together thought lead­ers across the broad spec­trum of our work to engage in high level and off-the-record con­ver­sa­tions in order to infuse new ideas and approaches for com­bat­ing hatred and prej­u­dice in our world.

The inau­gural ADL@Salon will take place today at our national head­quar­ters in New York.  Har­ness­ing the exper­tise of lead­ing schol­ars and for­eign pol­icy prac­ti­tion­ers, we will look for­ward to assess what the future holds in store for the Mid­dle East, and how U.S. pol­icy should respond to these trends.

Co-sponsored by our friends at the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Rela­tions and Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, a pub­lic pol­icy think-tank head­quar­tered in Bel­grade and New York, our aim is not to broad­cast our dis­cus­sions broadly, but har­ness these and inform our new direc­tions and positions.

ADL@Salon is the start of a new way of approach at ADL. Future part­ners in our con­ver­sa­tions come from across a broad array of fields—from schol­ars to advo­cates, pol­icy pro­fes­sion­als to busi­ness lead­ers. We will con­sider the chal­lenges of the 21st century’s civil rights agenda. We will think deeply about the rela­tion­ship between the United States and Israel in these times of change. We will wel­come the entre­pre­neurs and inno­va­tors of Sil­i­con Val­ley into con­ver­sa­tion to chal­lenge our think­ing about how we approach social problems.

What if ADL can be the place that inspires brave think­ing? What if we can bring together the minds that lead us smartly toward our “big bets?” I believe that through dia­logue and the exchange of ideas and infor­ma­tion, we can trans­form our response to 21st cen­tury challenges.

As the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing anti-Semitism and defend­ing the civil rights of all, I believe ADL is poised to inspire great change. That is what ADL@Salon is truly about.

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January 22, 2016 0

Forty-Three Years after Roe v. Wade We Continue to Fight for Reproductive Freedom

Forty-three years ago the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its water­shed deci­sion in Roe v. Wade, hold­ing that a woman’s con­sti­tu­tional right to pri­vacy includes the right to access an abor­tion. By guar­an­tee­ing women the right to deter­mine whether to con­tinue a preg­nancy, Roe has had far-reaching impli­ca­tions for women’s rights beyond the med­ical pro­ce­dure itself. The abil­ity to con­trol fam­ily plan­ning and their own bod­ies for the last two gen­er­a­tions has played an invalu­able role in help­ing women deter­mine the course of their own lives, decide when or whether to have chil­dren, earn higher degrees, advance in the work­place, and attain more equal rights.

Photo Credit Debra Sweet Flickr

Photo Credit: Debra Sweet, Flickr

Still, the jour­ney from Roe has not been an easy one. Four decades after Roe rec­og­nized the con­sti­tu­tional right to an abor­tion, there are more attempts to limit access—and ulti­mately ban—abortions than ever before. Between 2011 and 2015 there were nearly as many restric­tions on abor­tion access enacted across the United States than in the prior fif­teen years com­bined. In 2015 alone, law­mak­ers con­sid­ered 396 bills that would have restricted access to abor­tions in 46 states. Though many were defeated, 17 states enacted a total of 57 new abor­tion restric­tions. Many of the bills, though not explic­itly about reli­gion, have reli­gious under­tones, with leg­is­la­tors cit­ing scrip­ture dur­ing debate and seek­ing to enshrine their own par­tic­u­lar reli­gious view into law.

The lat­tice­work of state abor­tion restric­tions now includes coun­sel­ing require­ments that force doc­tors to give women often sci­en­tif­i­cally questionable—and some­times down­right inaccurate—information about the pro­ce­dures and their pos­si­ble side effects. Other laws impose wait­ing peri­ods that require women to come back to clin­ics days later, cre­at­ing par­tic­u­larly oner­ous obsta­cles for women who some­times have to travel hun­dreds of miles and lose hourly wages while away from work. Still oth­ers cre­ate restric­tions on insur­ance cov­er­age that make abor­tions almost impos­si­ble for poor peo­ple to access.

Other types of restric­tions, which cre­ate what doc­tors widely agree are med­ically unnec­es­sary require­ments for clin­ics, are also thinly veiled attempts to shut down repro­duc­tive health cen­ters. Such laws have become so wide­spread that they have their own term: tar­geted reg­u­la­tion of abor­tion providers (TRAP) laws. In Texas, for exam­ple, the law, among other things, requires clin­ics that pro­vide abor­tion ser­vices to meet the same build­ing, staffing and equip­ment require­ments as “ambu­la­tory sur­gi­cal cen­ters,” even though the pro­ce­dures there do not require such things by med­ical stan­dards. The law also requires doc­tors pro­vid­ing abor­tion ser­vices to have admit­ting priv­i­leges at a local hos­pi­tal, some­thing that is becom­ing increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to do in areas that largely oppose abor­tion rights or where there are only religiously-affiliated hos­pi­tals nearby. The law could shut­ter all but 10 abor­tion clin­ics, includ­ing every clinic west of San Anto­nio. Com­bined with Texas’ manda­tory wait­ing period between see­ing a doc­tor and hav­ing the pro­ce­dure, that would effec­tively put abor­tion access out of reach for mil­lions of women in Texas, who would often have to travel hun­dreds of miles to the near­est clinic and stay at least overnight.

A chal­lenge to that Texas law is now pend­ing before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, could have dra­matic impli­ca­tions for women’s abil­i­ties to access abor­tion all around the coun­try. The Supreme Court has said clearly and defin­i­tively in the past that states can­not place “undue bur­dens” on a woman’s abil­ity to access an abor­tion before fetal via­bil­ity, and that such bur­dens include “unnec­es­sary health reg­u­la­tions that have the pur­pose or effect of pre­sent­ing a sub­stan­tial obsta­cle to a woman seek­ing an abor­tion.” If the Court finds that the abil­ity to shut­ter clin­ics with tech­ni­cal and med­ically unnec­es­sary restric­tions does not qual­ify as an undue bur­den, how­ever, states around the coun­try could make abor­tions inac­ces­si­ble to all but the most priv­i­leged who can afford to take time off work, travel long dis­tances, and pay out of pocket for pro­ce­dures to which they have a con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed right.

On the anniver­sary of Roe v. Wade, the right to safe and legal abor­tions for many women hangs in the bal­ance. We must all work to safe­guard that fun­da­men­tal con­sti­tu­tional right so that all women— regard­less of where they live, what type of insur­ance they have, where they work, or how much money they have—can access the safe abor­tion ser­vices that have been so crit­i­cal in advanc­ing women’s rights and equality.

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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

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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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