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September 16, 2014

From The Archives: Violence Against Women Act 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago, on September 13, 1994, President Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law which reflects a core part of ADL’s mission: the prevention of bias-motivated criminal behavior. VAWA authorized government action to improve criminal justice and community responses to domestic and sexual violence and provided funding for the establishment of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. ADL’s support for the law, which aimed to protect women from violence directed against them because of their gender, was a natural extension of its work on hate crimes. pres-clinton-bill-signing-1994-09-13

In 1996, two years after VAWA’s enactment, ADL added gender to its model hate crimes legislation, citing the fact that gender-based hate crimes could not be easily distinguished from other forms of hate-motivated violence. In response to legal challenges to VAWA following its enactment, ADL joined several amicus (friend of the court) briefs in support of the Act. In 2000, in U.S. v. Morrison, ADL, along with a number of other civil rights organizations including People for the American Way, the American Jewish Congress, and Hadassah, filed an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of VAWA’s civil remedy provision, which allowed survivors of gender-motivated violence to sue their attackers in federal court.

Following the Court’s decision to strike down the civil remedy provision, ADL continued its support for legislation that counters discrimination and bias crimes—including on the basis of gender or gender identity. In 2009, Congress enacted the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act criminalizing hate crimes targeting victims because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.  ADL spearheaded coalition efforts to pass the bill for more than a decade.

After failing to reauthorize an update to VAWA in 2012, Congress enacted new legislation in 2013, which included additional programs specifically designed to address domestic violence against women of color, Native Americans, new campus hate crime requirements, and intimate partner violence involving members of the LGBT community.

On this important anniversary, ADL reaffirms its long-standing commitment to advocating for legally-sound statutes at the federal and state level that counter discrimination, bias crimes, and violence against women.

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August 6, 2014

From the Archives: A Brief History of “The Protocols” in the U.S.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of a report by the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee repudiating The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,a piece of paranoid, racist literature long used by anti-Semites as supposed proof of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

The Senate report offered a history and analysis of The Protocols, noting that it continued to be “circulated by the unscrupulous and accepted by the unthinking” despite being “repeatedly and authoritatively exposed as a vicious hoax.”

The report described The Protocols as “one of a number of fraudulent documents that peddle the myth of an ‘international Jewish conspiracy,’” adding that it had been among the most malicious (indeed, Adolf Hitler linked the nefarious plot of The Protocols with Germany’s post-war economic hardships). It further declared: “it is impossible for a fair minded person of any commonsense not to see that the ‘Protocols’ are the fictional product of a warped mind and that for years they have been and still are the chief staple of the anti-Jewish pamphleteer.”dearborn-independent-international-jew

At the time of its release, the Senate subcommittee requested publication of the report “in order to lay to rest any honest question concerning the nature, origin, and significance of this ancient canard.” The Judiciary Committee’s report came 44 years after the introduction of The Protocols to an American audience and the ADL’s first campaign against it.

On May 22, 1920, Henry Ford’s newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, published the first installment of The Protocols under a banner headline: The International Jew: The World’s Problem. Rewritten and “Americanized” for a US audience, the Independent’s version of The Protocols appeared in issue after issue, pamphlet, and book form. Millions of copies were spread throughout the United States by Ford dealers, who were required to make copies available to customers, and members of the KKK and other hate groups.

The following month, ADL sent “a dignified letter asking for a conference” to Ford. When no response was received, an ADL investigation disclosed “that the anti-Semitic campaign of The Dearborn Independent was deliberately planned and a sufficient amount of evidence was secured to prove that the publisher had the willing cooperation not merely of foreign anti-Jewish organizations but of many groups in America.”

In September 1920, a special conference of Jewish leaders convened and tasked ADL with spearheading the response. ADL circulated two pamphlets outlining the history and fabrication of the Protocols: The Protocols – A Spurious Document and The Poison Pen: Further revelations concerning Anti-Semitic Propaganda in the United States. ADL again reached out to Ford and this time came to an agreement, but it was soon broken.the-truth-about-the-protocols-cover

On January 16, 1921 author John Spargo released a letter of protest against anti-Semitic propaganda signed by 119 distinguished non-Jewish Americans, including President Woodrow Wilson and former Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. ADL reprinted and disseminated Spargo’s letter and an article on anti-Semitism by former President Taft.

By 1927, Ford had publicly repudiated the International Jew and issued a public apology, and decades later, after The Protocols had become a staple of Nazi propaganda, Ford again expressed his concern about the circulation of The International Jew.

In a 1942 letter to ADL, Ford wrote, “I do not subscribe to or support, directly or indirectly, any agitation which would promote antagonism against my Jewish fellow citizens.” Despite his apologies, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been encouraged by his initial endorsement to accept the Protocols as genuine. Many today remain skeptical of Ford’s apology.

Since A Spurious Document and The Poison Pen, instances of resurgent use of The Protocols has spurred additional ADL publications refuting The Protocols, including The Truth About the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion (1939-1945), The Protocols and the Purge Trial (1952), and The Protocols: Myth and History (1981).

Today, ADL monitors and reports on the continued use of The Protocols by extremists and anti-Semites around the globe. ADL has long asked booksellers who stock The Protocols to label and categorize it appropriately. This practice extends to online book sellers; both Amazon and Barnes & Noble place prominently on their listings of The Protocols an ADL statement that it is an anti-Semitic plagiarized forgery, in addition to language that makes clear the booksellers do not endorse the content.  

For more about The Protocols, see ADL’s The ‘Protocols’ at 100: A Hoax of Hate Lives On, A Hoax of Hate: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and The International Jew: 1920s Anti-Semitism Revived Online.

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July 3, 2014

From the Archives: ADL & the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Part 3

On June 10, 1964, a year after President Kennedy first introduced the Civil Rights Act to the nation in a televised address, a coalition of 44 Democrats and 27 Republicans voted for cloture, which limited further debate and ended the 57-day filibuster of the bill.

ADL had lobbied for the bill in the months prior, including organizing a meeting of 100 Jewish business, professional, and civic leaders from all over the United States, who met in Washington, DC, and urged their home-state Senators to take action towards passage of the bill.

In a press release reacting to the Senate’s vote for cloture, ADL National Chairman Dore Schary stated:

The vote on the cloture rule which now assures passage of the Civil Rights Act is a victory for all who love justice and love an America conceived in liberty. It is a defeat for no one except those who would prevent America from achieving its ultimate dream… For the thousands of civil rights leaders and for the country as a whole, the final passage of the Civil Rights Bill will provide new opportunities, which they dare not squander, to help our Negro citizens achieve a full measure of their rights as Americans.

The Civil Rights Act passed the Senate with a vote of 73-27 on June 19.

On June 21, the same day on which three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered in Mississippi, the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights was held at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The Anti-Defamation League was among the sponsors of the rally, which featured the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. The rally was planned to urge passage by the Senate, but was ultimately anti-climactic, as passage by the House was the imminent. ADL’s Midwest Director A. Abott Rosen described the day:

There was no question of Jewish participation, there were no suspicions on the parts of blacks of Jews or other whites on this glorious day. We didn’t take a head count of the number of blacks and the number of wSigning_of_Civil_Rights_Acthites present in Soldiers Field that day, but to my eye, I would suggest that the group was almost equally divided.

On July 2, the House of Representatives voted by more than a two-thirds margin (289-126) to adopt the Senate-passed version of the Civil Rights Act. That day, President Johnson signed the bill in a nationally broadcast ceremony.

ADL’s National Program Director Oscar Cohen later recalled:

The question arose in ADL circles frequently as to why ADL was so totally involved with the struggle for equal rights for blacks … First, we claimed, that no minority was safe unless all minorities were and prejudice and discrimination could not be cured in our society unless the cure related to all minorities … if civil rights laws were passed, such as fair employment and fair housing laws, they would at one stroke eliminate discrimination against all groups, including Jews.

Today, ADL is help­ing to lead a very large coali­tion work­ing to fight dis­crim­i­na­tion, pro­mote equality, and pro­tect the same vot­ing rights for which civil rights workers Michael Schw­erner, Andrew Good­man, and James Chaney gave their lives. The League is urg­ing broad sup­port for the Vot­ing Rights Amend­ment Act of 2014 (VRAA), which would cre­ate a new for­mula for pre-clearing vot­ing rights changes.

Fifty years later, ADL commemorates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a paramount step towards our core value “to secure justice and fair treatment for all” and reaffirms our dedication to continue the fight in the ongoing struggle for equality.

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