New York, NY, November 6, 2015 … The new CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that anti-Semitic sentiments and anti-Israel forces here at home and abroad are not new but are developing in new ways.
“Anti-Semitism is not exactly new. Political parties across the world are using anti-Semitism as a strategy to gain at the ballot box. Anti-Israel forces are getting more sophisticated, adopting new tactics, taking it off the campus and into the corporate board rooms. That should bother all of us,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, in his inaugural report at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Annual Meeting in Denver.
Mr. Greenblatt laid out his vision for ADL’s future in front of more than 300 leaders from across the country who gathered in downtown Denver for its National Commission meeting from October 15-17. In addition to discussing his plans, Mr. Greenblatt delved into many issues he has tackled during his first 90 days on the job including:
- Where ADL stands on the Iran deal
- Jewish communal unity
- Fighting extremism online “as a whole new ball game”
- Critical campus affairs, including the BDS movement
- Confronting Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism and incivility by some Presidential candidates
- Importance of interfaith relations and his experiences from Pope Francis’ USA visit
- Taking bigotry out of the immigration debate
- A new campaign, 50 States Against Hate, launched to push for the establishment of tougher hate crime laws across the country.
“If we are going to beat BDS, and hope to make a dent in cyberhate, aspire to turn tide on global anti-Semitism, we are going to have to make some very big bets. They will not be easy. They will be hard. There are no silver bullets. I think about past movements, and think we can do great things,” he said.
Throughout his TED-Talk style address, Mr. Greenblatt reiterated why the League’s mission is ever so relevant today.
“Our timeless mission and the genius of our founders who wrote the ADL charter – that was our mission then, it is our mission today, and it will be our mission in the future,” he said.
Barry Curtiss-Lusher, presided over the meeting, having served as ADL National Chair for the past three years. Mr. Curtiss-Lusher and his wife Gay, were honored for their years of service to the League and their community at a gala dinner at the Denver Performing Arts Center on October 15. At the close of the meeting, the gavel was passed to Marvin Nathan, an attorney and longtime ADL leader from Houston.
“For more than a century, ADL has adhered to its mission and to action. Hate is hate, and the anti-Semites, the racists, the bigots, the extremists – all of the haters – must be confronted each and every day because if any person or group is insecure, then none of us are secure,” Mr. Nathan said in his acceptance remarks. “As long as we can imagine a world without hate, we must and will act to make it happen. I am ready to be your national chair.”
ADL was joined in Denver by an all-star lineup of experts from various fields on the international scene, cyberbullying, domestic civil rights issues and security.
Former Israeli general Amos Yadlin, Director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, briefed ADL leaders on the current wave of violence and terror attacks taking place across Israel and how entities including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are using the issue of the Temple Mount to “spread lies about Israel’s intentions.” Yadlin also spoke about the latest developments regarding ISIS and the crisis in Syria, the lack of leadership from the Palestinians and Hezbollah’s involvement in the regional conflict.
The meeting’s participants also heard a video message from Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor and William Davison Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who described why Israel, in a region riven by conflict and violence, represents “the one country in the region that stands out” because of its freedom of press, assembly and elections, and respect for gay rights. “Israel cannot afford to be a partisan issue,” he said.
The issues of combatting anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on campuses across the country were also subjects of discussion. Aliya Manjee, a Muslim student from Marquette University, who participated on a recent ADL Campus Leaders Mission to Israel, described the positive impact the trip had on her role as a student leader, and expressed hope in working collaboratively with students at her school on these important issues. “I learned that when stating views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most important thing to remember is that supporting one side does not mean ‘anti-the other,’ she said. “It (the ADL mission) was truly a life changing experience that continues to impact me today.”
Rabbi David Wolpe, a prominent American Jewish religious leader from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, spoke of the importance of ADL’s mission in an increasingly diverse society. “We embrace anyone who is decent and fight anyone who is indecent. That’s part of our tradition,” and referred to ADL’s work as “noble and sacred.”
Jewish American reggae artist Matisyahu was honored for his courageous stand in the face of an attempt to cancel his appearance at a music festival in Spain because of his religion and his support for Israel. Matisyahu made brief remarks and sang “Jerusalem” and was recognized for his actions this past August, when he refused to comply with the demand of organizers of a reggae festival that he issue a statement in support of Palestinian statehood and against “Israeli war crimes.”
Civil rights advocates discussed key issues facing our nation. A panel, which was moderated by Deborah Lauter, ADL Director of Civil Rights, explored opportunities for advancing civil rights. “We have to be guided by hope, substantive hope,” said Ryan Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “To pursue justice, you have to be hopeful – it’s precious and essential to be change agents in our community.” Tulaine Montgomery, Managing Director of New Profit, also talked about ways to “navigate effectively and move towards justice,” by establishing key partnerships.
Other civil rights activists joined ADL on the second day, and spoke on the status of a post-marriage equality America. Kylar Broadus, Senior Public Policy Counsel for the Transgender Civil Rights Project, referred to the murder of transgender women as a “national epidemic” and called on the crowd to collectively address this issue. Jennifer Pizer, Senior Counsel and National Director of the Law and Policy Project, also provided her perspective on the value of meaningful partnerships. “We are making progress because we have a large family of allies. We are grateful for the relationships and this is how we can change the society for the better.” Roberta Kaplan, a partner in the litigation department of the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, delivered a keynote address prior to the panel, which was moderated by Seth Marnin, ADL Associate Director of Legal Affairs.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director Emeritus, reflected on current issues facing the American-Jewish community, the diaspora and Israel. In a talk entitled “The Jewish Community Then and Now,” he compared the current divisions in the community over the Iran deal to other times when American Jews also approached critical issues affecting Israel from differing political points of view.
Local dignitaries and speakers also included Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver, who welcomed the group and thanked ADL for its work in the region, and Rosalind Wiseman, an author and bullying prevention specialist, also led an in-depth and interactive discussion on bullying and cyberbullying and discussed tangible ways to address these issues with youth.