New York, NY, December 4, 2012 … The recent conflict in Gaza was an example of the strategic reality facing Israel in the aftermath of the Arab spring, a prominent Israeli journalist told a meeting of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Chicago.
Haaretz Senior Correspondent, Ari Shavit said that this conflict will have longer term consequences for Israel and the region (video).
“This is a test to the new Middle East…this is the first time Israel is taking a high risk in taking action in the new strategic circumstances created by the Arab awakening,” Shavit said. “On the one hand, this action will definitely increase Israeli deterrence and the respect for us in the region will be higher, but we do not know yet what will be the long-term and deeper ramifications of this and how much waves of violence can rise throughout the region…again, not as an immediate reaction, but as a long-term reaction.”
ADL’s 2012 Annual Meeting, held November 15-17, the kick-off to its 100th anniversary, brought more than 500 of the League’s leaders from across the country to its birthplace of Chicago. Sigmund Livingston, the Chicago attorney who started the agency 100 years ago, was honored for his role in ADL’s establishment as a world leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and hate. Mr. Livingston’s grandson, Richard Livingston read from ADL’s charter and Abraham H. Foxman, the League’s National Director gave an overview of the battle against prejudice over its 100 year history (transcript).
ADL leaders also heard from a wide range of speakers including The Honorable Patt Quinn, Governor of Illinois (video) and experts discussing interfaith relations, anti-Semitism, the impact and aftermath of the election of 2012, as well as other issues affecting Israel, the Jewish community and American society.
ADL National Chair, Robert G. Sugarman was recognized for his three years of service in the top leadership position in the organization. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the gavel was passed to the League’s newly elected National Chair, Barry Curtiss-Lusher.
Mr. Foxman discussed the progress of combating anti-Semitism in the United States, as well as its prevalence on a global scale.
“When we recall where we were in 1913 and where we are as we approach 2013, it is a remarkable story,” said Mr. Foxman. “At the same time, as I stand here to commemorate the successes, I am appalled at the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the globe. Indeed, the last decade has witnessed the most serious and dangerous manifestation of Jew hatred since World War II. On the occasion of our Centennial, we've had discussions about whether or not to call it a celebration. I believe we should because of all the progress we've made, mostly in America, and all we contributed to that progress.”
Mr. Foxman also spoke about a “new era of anxiety that hit the world” starting with the events of September 11th and the combination of international terror, financial collapse, Islamic extremism and turmoil in the Middle East that have created a new avenue for “blame the Jew” scenarios.”
“It is also a time of recommitment to continue the struggle to meet the immense challenges that still face us. I am reassured that together we will emerge triumphant.”
Interfaith Relations, Fighting Hate, Domestic Security Challenges & Post-Election Analysis
ADL’s leaders heard from Clarence Page, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and editorial writer from The Chicago Tribune, who explained the notion of a “new era of conflict” that pits free speech against religious rights and referred back to the time of ADL’s founding where a lack of dialogue led to extreme violence. Page emphasized the challenges of fighting racism, bigotry and hate, and noted that, “we must speak out now as never before against empty headed propaganda that feeds hate, fear and suspicions and we must fight ignorance with information.” (video).
A dynamic Jewish-Muslim dialogue took place between Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Senior Rabbi of New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue and Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and President of the Interfaith Youth Core (video). The two discussed the crucial role that religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation play in the United States and explained the unique setting America provides toward realizing the promise of interfaith activism. They discussed Patel’s new book “Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America,” which chronicles the religious tensions that emerged after September 11th and offers hope that through efforts to expand understanding and mutual respect, Americans can overcome the intolerance and bigotry that continues to plague our society. While acknowledging that America has still not reached its ideals, they agreed that the richness of the nation’s unique founding history provides a strong foundation for a brighter future.
Michael Masters, Director of the Cook County, Illinois Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management also discussed various issues surrounding domestic security challenges and Tom Bevan, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Real Clear Politics gave a post-election analysis in the wake of the contentious Presidential contest.
Honors and Commendations
The following awards and commendations were presented during ADL’s 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago:
- ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award was presented to Feng Shan Ho, a Chinese diplomat (posthumously) for his heroic efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust, and was accepted on his behalf by his daughter, Manli Ho.
- Barbara B. Balser ADL Lifetime Achievement Award to Thomas Homburger, Chicago attorney and ADL National Commissioner for four decades of service to the League, both in the Chicago region and nationally.
- ADL Americanism Award to Jane and Neil Golub who were honored for their remarkable commitment to anti-bias education in upstate New York communities.
The following resolutions were unanimously adopted by the ADL National Commission:
Resolution on the Judicial Nomination Process
ADL called upon Senate leadership to repair the current judicial nomination and confirmation process and urged both political parties to take steps towards de-politicizing the manner in which nominees are treated.
Resolution of Support for the State of Israel During the Latest Siege of Terror by Hamas
ADL reaffirmed its strong support for the people and State of Israel, Israel's fundamental right and obligation to defend its people and for its efforts to achieve peace and security
Resolution on Palestinian Unilateral Action to Upgrade its Status in the United Nations
ADL called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to immediately suspend its destructive plans to upgrade its official status at the United Nations General Assembly and commit to immediate, direct, bilateral negotiations with Israel. Member states of the UNGA were also urged to encourage the PA to abandon its misguided efforts and vote against the resolution.
The Affordable Care Act and Contraception Mandate
ADL supported a proposed compromise in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that would require insurance companies to cover contraception costs for female employees of non-profit religiously-affiliated organizations.