ADL 'Deeply Troubled' at Speech by Defense Secretary Panetta that Puts Onus on Israel

New York, NY, December 4, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed surprise and dismay at a speech delivered December 2 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to a conference on U.S.-Israel Relations in Washington D.C., saying that he disproportionately put the onus on Israel to overcome its isolation.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

We are deeply troubled by the message sent by Secretary Panetta at precisely a moment when the region is so volatile and uncertain. The Defense Secretary emphasized the shared U.S. and Israeli interest in deepened strategic cooperation and in countering the Iranian threat. But he undermined the sense of assurance that this could have projected by using a prestigious public platform to focus disproportionate responsibility on Israel for the campaign of hostility against her.

The Obama Administration knows firsthand of the Palestinian rejection of the Quartet's initiatives, Turkey's years-long shift away from its alliance with Israel, and the campaign to isolate Israel in the U.N. Secretary Panetta's call on Israel to be the party to overcome this comes on the heels of a victory in Egypt of Islamists who have espoused virulent hostility toward Israel and other troubling signals about the impact of the Arab Spring on Israel's security.

The president has taken important steps to express U.S. understanding of the challenges facing Israel, notably in his September speech to the U.N. General Assembly, and in work to forestall Palestinian statehood efforts at the U.N. Secretary Panetta's unjustified attempt to place the onus on Israel to overcome these forces is a step backward in that effort at precisely the wrong time.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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