Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ADL's Foxman hounds Israel opponents

ABE Foxman, director of the B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, which is supposed to monitor and campaign against racism and antisemitism, took out a large paid advertisement in the New York Times recently to complain about an evening panel discussion being held in Brooklyn College.

Was this reputable academic institution hosting some raving antisemitic conspiracy theorist perhaps, or a Holocaust denier?      

Not at all. The featured speakers were to be Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian who campaigns for Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment(BSD) tactics to bring pressure on the State of Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands; and Judith Butler, a Jewish feminist philosopher and supporter of Palestinian rights.

Not surprisingly, the event was condemned by the usual suspects, such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who achieved notoriety as a Zionist version of Senator Joe McCarthy. Ten New York city council members were persuaded to sign a statement threatening to cut off funds to the college if it went ahead.

To their credit, without in any way endorsing the views of the speakers, Brooklyn College resisted the pressure to cancel the event. "We knew this would be controversial. We’re not scared of controversy,” said Corey Robin, who has taught political science at Brooklyn College for 15 years. “The fact that government officials have chosen to threaten us … I thought we had moved beyond that.”  

The event went ahead, supported by the Politics Department, and attended by 300 people who discussed the BDS issue without any problem. Brooklyn has promised further events with different viewpoints.

So where does the ADL come in? 

According to Foxman, advocating a boycott against Israel, a peaceful tactic though it is,  constitutes "antisemitic hate speech". How so?  According to a report in the Jewish daily Forward.
"The argument that BDS is hate speech and, at its very core, anti-Semitic stems from the movement’s support of the Palestinian right of return, which Foxman describes as 'the destruction of the Jewish state through demography.'

By implication, if anyone who supports boycott tactics is guilty of "hate speech" we could all be banned from campuses and public buildings, and even made illegal in some places. I bet the old Apartheid South African regime would have loved to have an ally like the ADL on its side! Matter of fact, at one point at least it more or less did, though the ADL does not boast about the fact.

Assuming that all supporters of boycott, divestment and sanctions - which is a broad campaign, not a centralised movement -do support the Palestinian right of return, they share this belief with the United Nations, the Palestinian organisations (notwithstanding Mahmoud Abbas' suggestion that the right might be waived in return for genuine peace), some Israelis, and European Jews for Just Peace(EJJP), to which the Jewish Socialists Group is affiliated. I was at the founding conference where this was discussed and accepted. .   

I doubt whether every Palestinian would, if granted, want to exercise that right, any more than every Jew around the world has rushed to take advantage of Israel's Law of Return, under which we are all entitled - indeed exhorted - to "return" and settle in a country with which we have no real connection. Latest group who have been taken in (if you'll forgive the expression) are some people from a remote corner of north-east India whose existence, as Jews, was unknown to the Jewish world, and I suspect to themselves, until fairly recently.

What rights they will enjoy once in Israel, I wonder, bearing in mind the prejudice and Rabbinical exclusion that met Bene Yisrael Jews from India and the Ethiopian Jews who came. But if the one lot of people who are kept out are Palestinians who fled or were driven out in the war of 1947-8, even as Israel expands its settlements on more Palestinian land taken in 1967, what else is that but racism?

The ADL, founded a century ago to defend Jewish people's rights against hatred and discrimination, is defending the right of the Israeli state to discriminate. And if the state is seen as defending itself against "demography" - which would logically entitle it not only to keep people out but to limit the Arab birth rate - what else is that but "hate speech"?

But this is not the first time that the so-called Anti-Defamation League has been seen to defend the Israeli state and interfere with the rights of others, including American citizens.

Here is a report from eleven years ago:

ADL payout finally lays 9-year-old lawsuit to rest 

 by ALEZA GOLDSMITH, Bulletin Staff

The Anti-Defamation League this week settled a 9-year-old civil suit against the agency, agreeing to pay three remaining plaintiffs $178,000.

The suit, originally filed in 1993 by 19 plaintiffs, had accused the ADL of illegally obtaining and disseminating the private records of these individuals for the purpose of blacklisting them.

Although the ADL decided to settle, it continues to deny all allegations of wrongdoing; after nine years, however, the organization felt that enough was enough.

"We just decided it was time to get past this and move on," said ADL attorney David Goldstein. "Otherwise, there could very well be many more years of litigation."

ADL Executive Director Jonathan Bernstein, who leads the agency's Central Pacific Region, agreed, adding that he is "pleased that this is almost behind us now."

The plaintiffs' attorney, former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, could not be reached for comment.

As of press time Wednesday, the parties were still awaiting word from the state court of appeals on requests to dismiss the case.

Both sides had filed appeals in July when a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed plaintiffs Anne Poirier and Steven Zeltzer, but not Jefferey Blankfort, who claimed the ADL obtained his Social Security number "for non-journalistic purposes." Because the settlement took place before the appeals came though, the ADL agreed to compensate all three.

Though the ADL would have preferred to have had all the plaintiffs dismissed in July, Goldstein said the case's nine years of litigation did help establish "some important principles" about the agency.

In 1998, for instance, the California 1st District Court of Appeals determined that the ADL could be defined as a journalistic organization, and as such keep confidential any information gathered for journalistic purposes.

Fourteen of the 19 original plaintiffs (two of whom are deceased) subsequently dropped their cases.

The lawsuit was originally filed after police raids on San Francisco and Los Angeles ADL offices in 1992. During those raids, confidential files revealing the names of individuals in activist groups being monitored by the ADL were confiscated."

Supporters of the ADL claimed it prevented hate crimes and terror attacks by gathering information on potential perpetrators. But it was exposed as having hired a private detective who gained illicit access to police files, infiltrated organisations, and gathered information on people who were neither terrorists nor racists.   Quite the opposite.

Following a court case the ADL did have to agree to certain conditions:

*To refrain from obtaining confidential and prohibited information from police.

*To set up a San Francisco reward fund of up to $50,000 for hate crimes.

*To pay up to $25,000 in training costs for a public school program designed to teach students about hate crimes.

Gerard (a police officer who moonlighted for them)" was charged with five felony counts of stealing confidential state documents but pleaded guilty to a lesser count of illegally accessing a computer. He was sentenced to three years probation, a $25,000 fine and a 45-day jail sentence that was to be spent, instead, on a sheriff's work detail."

And here is what I wrote back then:

ADL settles apartheid spy case

America's leading Jewish 'defence' organisation, the .Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has settled a long legal battle over spying in collusion with the South African apartheid regime against left-wing activists, Arabs and Jewish dissidents. The league had to pay $178,000 to the last three plaintiffs in a case brought by 19 activists in 1993.

Founded 90 years ago to oppose antisemitism, the ADL, an offshoot of the mainstream B'nai Brith, has increasingly turned towards defending Israeli policies. Well-resourced and professionally staffed, the league had the ears of politi­cians and the press. Then, in December 1992, police raided its San Francisco and Los Angeles headquarters. A league investigator and a former San Francisco police officer had been seen talking to South African agents.

 The ADL claimed to be only monitoring "hate groups" and denied passing information to South
Africa. But the files ranged over Arab-American community organisations, trade unions, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, Anti-Apartheid, Women in Black and the International Jewish Peace Union. Only a relative handful of files dealt with the far right.

League spook Roy Bullock, who used his cover as an art dealer to attend meetings in US cities, admitted to moonlighting for the South Africans. Former police inspector Tom Gerard later pleaded no contest to charges of illegally accessing police files for information supplied to Bullock.

The ADL's claims to be merely acting like a journalist, gathering information for publication while protecting sources, looked thin. It was revealed that Bullock noted car numbers at Arab community events and Gerard supplied addresses for them. Jeffrey Blankfort, of the American Labor Middle East Committee, wondered why people interested in his politics needed his social security number.
Bullock had passed himself off as sympathetic to the Arab cause, helping steward meetings of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), and tried to join the Labour Committee when it was launched in 1987.

Blankfort and co-worker Steve Zeltzer discovered he had also attended gatherings of the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust denial outfit. Blankfort says: 'The reason Bullock gave us for attending the IHR conferences was to distribute ADC literature and recruit some new members for the Arab-American organization. We found it both strange and suspicious that it had not occurred to him that the last type of individual that the ADC would want as a member would be someone with obviously anti-Jewish and perhaps even pro-Nazi sentiments. A link between neo-Nazis and Arab-Americans is, however, a connection that the ADL would like to make. Convinced that Bullock was indeed an .ADL agent, we let the Arab-American community know of our conclusions.'

Worrying information emerged about ex-inspector Gerard's past links with the CIA and ties to Latin American death squads. Gerard had also taken part in a 'law enforce­ment' trip to Israel arranged by the ADL. Among the spy files was a report on African National Congress deputy leader Chris Hani's visit to California a week before he was assassinated on his return home. ADL director Abraham Foxman told the Northern California Jewish Bulletin that spying on the ANC and the left was justified as they were violent, antisemitic, pro-PLO and anti-Israel.

The case has discredited the ADL by showing how right-wing Zionism led it from anti-racism
into collaborating with racists, leaving the USA's Jewish community without a respected
voice to combat antisemitism.
The National Lawyers' Guild was listed in the ADL's files. Its attorney, Marc Van der Hout, a Jew. said the contents of the files showed the league had lost touch with reality on groups that are engaged in antisemitic activitv.    (Charlie Pottins

Another earlier article:

See also how Abe Foxman gets into a tangle trying to follow Israeli government policy on the rights of Jews from Arab countries:


P.S. On Forgotten Lessons 

It is sad that Abe Foxman does not seem to have learnt his lesson from the West Coast spying debacle. It is sadder to see that Jeffrey Blankfort, who was targetted by the ADL's spes and did so much to expose them, seems to have forgotten some of his lessons.

We quoted Blankfort in 2002 as describing how the spy attempted to fabricate a connection between Arab and pro-Palestinian organisations and Holocaust deniers, and that it would suit the ADL to make such a connection. It seems that what Blankfort could see when he was working with the Middle East Labor Bulletin and union supporters has been lost since he joined Counterpunch.
For that magazine sees nothing wrong in soiling itself with the writings of Israel Shamir and co., whom others, including Palestinian activists, have long seen through.

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At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Jeff Blankfort said...

Quite by accident I linked to this article from one on Electronic Intifada on the subject of Israeli and foreign Zionists spying on pro-Palestinian activists and was curious why I was quoted in that article simply as "an activist" and not by name since I was instrumental in exposing the ADL's national spy operation.

What do I find here but an attack on me for being an occasional contributor to CounterPunch which, aside from being one of the most important online newspapers in the English language, had published articles by Israel Shamir, a person of some controversy who is accused of being obsessed with Jewish political power by those who seek to eliminate the subject entirely from polite political conversation.

Given the recent Hagel hearing in Washington and the White House's continuing deference to Israel in the international arena, I think there is more fault to be found among those who minimize the Jewish establishment's influence than those who exaggerate it.

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Sorry if I mistakenly assumed Jeffrey Blankfort's connection with Counterpunch was more than that of an occasional contributor. However I cannot accept his pretence that the only concern over Israel Shamir is to whether he is "obsessed with Jewish power" or exagerrates it. Shamir has been accused of Holocaust denial, exposed as having a double identity with a Swedish antisemite called Joran jermas, and himself boasts of his alliance with white supremacists and friendships with such as the British former National Front leader Martin Webster. I'm told (by Palestinians who know him in Sweden) that he is also fascinated with the blood libel, believing there must be some truth in it. What has that got to do with "Jewish political power" or White House influence? I note that Blankfort himself after mentioning Zionists in the first sentence proceeds to talk about "Jewish" power and the Jewish establishment without troubling to make any distinction between "Zionist" and "Jewish", as though all Jews (except himself of course) were the same, and the wealthy Christian Zionist lobby was of no significance. I also note from elsewhere that he is on good terms with Gilad Atzmon, for whom "Jew" and "Zionist" are interchangable, and the truth or otherwise of the infamous Protocols is immaterial. It seems they both denounce mere Palestinians who dare to reject Shamir and Atzmon's pretence of help. In short, whatever good Blankfort contributed in the past, he has gone well astray now, and there is no point in further discussion with him now any mor than with those he defends.

see also:

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Tara Tyler said...

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