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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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March 2, 2016 4

Abortion and Religious Freedom: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Diversity in Reproductive Freedom

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its water­shed deci­sion forty-three years ago in Roe v. Wade, it staked out a zone of pri­vacy around each woman’s right to deter­mine whether to con­tinue a preg­nancy. While assailed repeat­edly in the decades since, and at times reviewed and sub­jected to revi­sion, this essen­tial sphere of per­sonal auton­omy has stood the test of time. The Court’s recog­ni­tion of the right to access an abor­tion reflects its appre­ci­a­tion of the inti­macy of this deci­sion. The choice to con­tinue or ter­mi­nate a preg­nancy encom­passes deeply pri­vate con­sid­er­a­tions of phys­i­cal and men­tal health, per­sonal cir­cum­stance, fam­ily plan­ning, and finan­cial and edu­ca­tional con­di­tions and goals.

Photo Credit Debra Sweet Flickr

Photo Credit Debra Sweet Flickr

And for many the deci­sion also includes con­tem­pla­tion of their core reli­gious con­vic­tions and per­sonal reli­gious val­ues. This point is fre­quently lost in the clamor and con­tention of America’s debate over repro­duc­tive free­dom. Too often the dis­pute is framed in binary terms, between per­sons of reli­gious faith who view abor­tion as mur­der and those who regard abor­tion as a woman’s right to con­trol their own bod­ies and decide the course of their own lives. The faith and reli­gious prin­ci­ples of those who choose to exer­cise their repro­duc­tive rights are rarely dis­cussed. When they are, it is too often through the eyes of anti-abortion extrem­ists who char­ac­ter­ize those who dis­agree with them as irreligious.

This depic­tion is as far-removed from real­ity as the claim these same abor­tion oppo­nents make to be the guardians of “women’s health” while depriv­ing mil­lions of women access to safe and secure facil­i­ties offer­ing the repro­duc­tive med­ical care they seek. The real­ity is that women who choose to ter­mi­nate their preg­nan­cies, and those who sup­port their right to do so, are often as reli­gious, faith­ful, and ded­i­cated to their spir­i­tual and moral prin­ci­ples as those who stand on the other side of the ide­o­log­i­cal divide.

Amer­ica is a nation of more than 320 mil­lion peo­ple and hun­dreds of reli­gious denom­i­na­tions. The pre­sump­tion that men and women of faith speak with one voice on the ques­tion of abor­tion, or that all prin­ci­pled indi­vid­u­als who believe in God must stand against abor­tion, is arro­gant and wrong. The Pew Research Cen­ter has cat­a­logued the view of 17 major reli­gious groups on abor­tion, and this sur­vey reveals a vast diver­sity of stances between and even within reli­gious groups. From those who oppose abor­tion under all cir­cum­stances, to those who make excep­tions for life, health, rape, or incest, to those who draw a line at the point of fetal via­bil­ity, to those who advo­cate for the right to safe and acces­si­ble abor­tions, the beliefs of reli­gious groups and per­sons of faith are as var­ied and diverse as this nation.

The insis­tence of far-right activists that they speak on behalf of all reli­gious believ­ers unmasks a deeper agenda of intol­er­ance and exclu­sion. Dis­re­gard­ing the reli­gious val­ues of those who dis­agree is a furtive method of silenc­ing reli­gious dis­sent. If the “reli­gious” view brooks no quar­rel on ques­tions of abor­tion, then reli­gious groups and indi­vid­ual per­sons of faith who dis­agree with anti-abortion activists are recast in the role of the faith­less. In so doing, the reli­gious right imposes its the­ol­ogy on the entire coun­try, assault­ing not just the repro­duc­tive free­dom of women, but also the reli­gious free­dom of all who believe dif­fer­ently from them.

On Wednes­day, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argu­ment in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, and in so doing will con­sider the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of oner­ous state restric­tions impos­ing med­ically unnec­es­sary require­ments for repro­duc­tive health cen­ters. These restric­tions are a thinly veiled attempt to shut down these cen­ters and restrict women’s con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed access to abor­tions. The impact of these so-called TRAP (tar­geted reg­u­la­tion of abor­tion providers) laws has been griev­ous, shut­ter­ing dozens of clin­ics and forc­ing women to travel hun­dreds of miles and even across state lines to exer­cise their repro­duc­tive free­dom. As high­lighted in the National Women’s Law Cen­ter ami­cus brief that the Anti-Defamation League and forty-six other orga­ni­za­tions joined, the Texas law not only threat­ens women’s eco­nomic well-being, job secu­rity, and edu­ca­tion attain­ment, but also has a par­tic­u­larly harm­ful impact on low-income women, women of color, women in low-wage jobs, and women who already have children.

In addi­tion to the dozens of med­ical orga­ni­za­tions, doc­tors, sci­en­tists, polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions, and con­cerned cit­i­zens who have filed ami­cus briefs in sup­port of the peti­tion­ers and in oppo­si­tion to Texas’s uncon­sti­tu­tional TRAP laws, the fight for women’s repro­duc­tive free­dom has also been joined by the­olo­gians, churches, reli­gious groups, reli­gious gov­ern­ing bod­ies, and more than 1,200 indi­vid­ual reli­gious lead­ers. These voices mat­ter. They shout with a thun­der­ous voice against the lie that reli­gious faith is incom­pat­i­ble with repro­duc­tive freedom.

Abor­tion is not just a ques­tion of per­sonal auton­omy, though that would be enough. It is about respect for reli­gious free­dom. A woman choos­ing whether to con­tinue a preg­nancy should be guided by her own con­science and reli­gious val­ues, not those imposed on her


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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


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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