Interview: Anti Defamation League Head Discusses Past, Future
Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) conducted an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva in celebration of the organization's centennial.
About 100 years ago, Foxman said, "American Jews who came to the 'golden medina' in search of liberty, freedom, equality - woke up one morning to realize that yes, it's better than Kiev, than Warsaw and other places - but it's still far from the dream that they thought they had."
"And so," he continued, "they organized an organization to defend the rights of Jews - the Anti-Defamation League - to fight against the defamation of Jews, and also for equal rights for everybody [. . .] through legislation, litigation, persuasion, advocacy, and education."
"I would say that the vision of those people 100 years ago to understand that [. . .] in order to defend yourself, you also must fight for the rights of others."
"The 'good old days' were bad old days. They were the days of quotas, the days of discrimination against Jews - they couldn't live everywhere, they couldn't go to all the schools, they couldn't take [certain] professions ," Foxman said. "We've made a great deal of progress."
"The level of anti-Semitism in the United States has come down from 30% about 40 or 50 years ago to 12%," Foxman continued. "The challenge is to find ways to continue fighting it, but the answer is still primarily education, education, education."
The ADL chairman maintained that the new challenge is the rampant spread of anti-Semitism on the internet. "You can now transmit anti-Semitism in nanoseconds globally. It's protected by anonymity. Every anti-Semitic blurb can now travel and be repeated and it never dies," he affirms. "It gives a new platforms, a new incentive, and a new vitality to old bigotry."
"This vehicle, which has wonderful aspects, is also a superhighway for hate," Foxman continues. "I think we can challenge the Yahoo!s and the Googles and the Facebooks to live up to their responsibilities."
Foxman and a large group of ADL representatives were in Tel Aviv Sunday, visiting a school for the children of foreign workers, asylum seekers, and refugees.
"This is a special place in terms of equality and rights," he stated. "The Jewish People have been a people of refugees," he said, describing what he said was the shared historical likeness between the Jews, who have been expelled from numerous countries, and the children of foreign workers, who have an unclear status in Israel today. "The children are the innocent victims."
Interestingly enough, the interview does not relate to Foxman's recent comments on Iran this weekend, which emerge in support of Israel's refusal to trust the possibility of a deal with international powers. "The tension between Israel and the US is because Americans are willing to try and see what happens, whereas Iran needs to show us by their actions, not just their words, the seriousness of its intentions," Foxman said.