New York, NY, April 29, 2013 … U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a gathering of leaders from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Monday that even with comprehensive civil rights enforcement efforts and the passage of federal and state hate crime laws, “the battle against anti-Semitism must remain as vital and robust today as it has during the life of this great organization.”
Mr. Holder commended the League’s ongoing efforts to foster dialogue, monitor hateful activities and study the roots of extremism while working with law enforcement to facilitate trainings and develop cutting-edge resources such as the FBI’s new Hate Crime Training Manual.
Citing ADL statistics that documented more than 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. in 2011 alone, as well as a marked increase in anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe, Mr. Holder assured ADL he remains committed to the battle against anti-Semitism and ensuring fair treatment for all, echoing the dual mission set out by the League’s founders a century ago.
“We delude ourselves if we believe that the dark forces have been conquered,” Mr. Holder told an audience of more than 1,000 ADL leaders from across the country gathered for ADL’s three-day Centennial Summit in Washington, DC. “They continue to exist in this nation. They continue to exist in the leadership of other nations around the world who have pledged to do harm to Israel and to Jewish people in other countries.
“We cannot afford to dismiss this sad and dangerous reality,” he continued. “The battle against anti-Semitism must remain as vital and robust today as it has during the life of this great organization.”
In his speech Monday morning, Mr. Holder discussed the bombing two weeks ago near the route of the Boston Marathon in which three people were killed and more than 260 were injured. The Justice Department’s investigation into the terrorist attack continues, he said, “And I want to assure you that my colleagues and I are determined to hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, all of those who were responsible for this attack.”
Mr. Holder acknowledged the League’s strong advocacy and against bigotry and hate. He recalled how during the 1990s, when he served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, he worked closely with ADL to create a Hate Crimes Working Group to build engagement between community leaders, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and D.C. residents. That model has since been widely replicated across the country.
But he said the League’s work was far from finished. “Significant challenges – and persistent threats – lie before us. And the path to ensuring equality, opportunity and justice for all – regardless of raise, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or walk of life – still stretches beyond the horizon.”
In the years since 9/11, the Justice Department has investigated more than 800 incidents involving threats, assaults and acts of vandalism and violence targeting Muslims, Arabs Sikhs, South Asians and others. Mr. Holder praised ADL for working closely with Justice on these cases, and specifically for filing a brief in the case against a Tennessee county for discriminating against local Muslims by refusing to allow a new mosque to open.
“This congregation encountered vandalism, threats of violence and steep public opposition,” Mr. Holder said. “But the department obtained a court order requiring county authorities to stand aside and honor First Amendment rights – and the congregation was permitted to worship in their new facility.”
Mr. Holder commended ADL’s efforts to educate community leaders, law enforcement officials and others about extremism and hate crimes. “At every level of today’s Justice Department, my colleagues and I have been proud to work with ADL in broadening the impact of your efforts,” he said.