ADL Director Delivers Major Address on the Breakdown of Civility and Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Boston, MA, October 7, 2010 … The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued a clarion call for voices of reason and responsibility to "stand up and speak out against the surge of anti-Muslim bigotry" that has become prominent in the breakdown of civil discourse in American society.

In a major address to the League's Annual Meeting in Boston, Mr. Foxman said that the atmosphere of partisanship that has emerged "in a time where people are put to loyalty tests" has made the imperative clear that, given their history, American Jews in particular have a responsibility to speak out when faced with bigotry against other minority groups -- and especially Muslims -- "despite the fact that there is a serious enmity between the Children of Ishmael and the Children of Isaac."

"Now, as a result of the debate surrounding the mosque near ground zero, we are witnessing a surge in anti-Muslim bigotry," said Mr. Foxman. "And I say to you that I believe it is related to the broader trends I've been speaking about, the lack of civility, the tendency to see enemies all around, and the reinforcement of prejudicial views rather than diverse views."

Mr. Foxman said that as one of the world's great religions, Islam is largely misunderstood in the U.S., and that "ignorance has always been one of the common denominators of those who are bigoted against 'the others.'"

"We must differentiate between extreme theology and ideology in Islam and condemn it and challenge it, while at the same time define it and separate it from the non-extremist ideology and theology," Mr. Foxman said. "The Muslim community in America is being confronted by ugly, in-your-face religious bigotry and we must speak out against it, educate against it and label it anti-American."