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.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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