The story of ADL’s 100 years is the story of America, the story of the American Jewish community and the story of an organization.
Imagine a world where you are frequently scapegoated. Often the butte of dehumanizing jokes. Restricted from buying a home in certain communities, attending certain schools and working in certain industries. Sometimes threatened and attacked.
And the reason is because others see you as different.
That was America in 1913 when the Anti-Defamation League was founded. While the nation was a land of freedom and opportunity, Jews, blacks, women and immigrants were not treated as equal citizens, did not feel respected and were even afraid to speak out for themselves.
Now, 100 years later, America is a more inclusive country—in no small part because of the Anti-Defamation League’s efforts.
Our work has never been easy, and this Annual Report focuses on the progress of some of our critical issues over the decades.
At our founding, bigotry and hate were part of mainstream society. Automotive pioneer Henry Ford, the revered figure who put average Americans in their first cars, also introduced them to the lie that Jews were trying to take over the world, and labeled Jews “the world’s foremost problem.”
A U.S. Army manual from World War I termed Jews “slackers” and “war profiteers.”
Hidden under the hoods of the Ku Klux Klan, ministers, sheriffs and policemen attacked and killed blacks, Jews and immigrants with impunity.
ADL’s first efforts focused on helping Jews because our founders knew from history where the dehumanizing of Jews could lead. ADL worked to prove to government and business leaders that it was contrary to American ideals to scapegoat Jews and demean them.
To counteract the lies being spread by people like Mr. Ford, ADL organized study groups and established a speakers’ bureau for disseminating facts about Jews to ordinary Americans.
We also began “fact-finding”: monitoring and exposing dangerous haters and extremists.
ADL fought back against the most egregious forms of hate and gradually helped improve public perception of Jews.