It wasn’t exactly a complimentary article about Foxman, suggesting that his past and paranoia are somewhat manic and perhaps misguided. The article, however, while dealing with Foxman and his total control over the ADL, also discusses some of the issues we’ve been talking about on Jewlicious with respect to Walt & Mearsheimer, Jimmy Carter and other instances where prominent figures have taken to pointing fingers at Jews and suggesting cabal-like behavior.
In a conversation last month over lunch, as Foxmanâ€™s bodyguard kept a weather eye open from across the room, I asked the A.D.L. leader about his ever-renewed fount of outrage. â€œI havenâ€™t done gevalt for 30 years,â€ Foxman said, though some might argue otherwise. â€œBut never before has there been such a threat to Israel and to the Jewish people from a geopolitical conglomerate â€” the Arab world, with Iran, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, with its position that it will not recognize Israel. The vise is closing.â€
The United States, Foxman added, is â€œthe only â€” the only â€” country in the world that is consistently willing to stand up to hypocrisy, to double standards, to triple standards, which always has the guts to say no.â€ And now he sees this great bulwark crumbling. Former President Jimmy Carter accuses Israel in his most recent book of practicing a policy of â€œapartheidâ€ in the occupied territories. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to Karen DeYoung, a Washington Post associate editor, in her recent biography, â€œSoldier: The Life of Colin Powell,â€ links President Bushâ€™s Middle East policy more to Jewish-neoconservative influence than to principle. Judith Regan, the celebrity editor, was reported as saying â€” she denies it â€” that the Jews were behind her recent downfall. (Some of Foxmanâ€™s examples are more weight-bearing than others.)
But what really makes Abe Foxman shray (cry) gevalt is the claim that an â€œIsrael lobbyâ€ or a â€œJewish lobbyâ€ â€” Aipac and the A.D.L. and a few others â€” has effectively gained control over U.S. policy toward the Middle East and suppressed voices calling for alternative policies.
The article concludes with the following:
Foxman is an anachronism. The demographic of which he is a member â€” Holocaust survivor â€” is rapidly disappearing. Younger people donâ€™t know quite what to make of him. In a recent column in The Jewish Journal, David A. Lehrer, formerly the head of the A.D.L.â€™s Los Angeles office, observed that Jews are now the most widely admired religious group in America, as well as the most successful, and lamented that Jewish leaders â€” Foxman specifically â€” continue to harp on Jewish â€œinsecurityâ€ and the threat of anti-Semitism. Lehrer says that when he raised his view that the A.D.L. had to learn to speak to this new, confident but less affiliated generation of Jews, Foxman dismissed it out of hand. The generational question does not interest him. â€œItâ€™s not my job to judge whether they should feel beleaguered or not,â€ Foxman snapped when I raised the subject. â€œI do feel. And Iâ€™ve got news for you: Every one of them, in their maturing process, will experience this.â€
I believe we’ve been fairly critical on Jewlicious of the ADL and their heavy hand which often results in the opposite result which they are seeking. They have the respect of many institutions and leading individuals in the Jewish community, as well as institutions outside of the community including security organizations like the FBI. I believe that of the resentment we express toward the ADL is that it has made the Holocaust a defining feature of how Jews view themselves, and it harps endlessly – since that is its mission – on antisemitism toward Jews even as the Jewish community has become heavily integrated into the larger population.
One has to wonder whether Walt & Mearsheimer as well as Carter and others benefit from the consensus the ADL has helped construct in this country whereby antisemitism, along with bigotry toward other identifiable groups, has become a taboo subject. When you criticize Jews, the Jewish community or Jewish organizations, suddenly you are labeled a brave person who is willing to challenge…power. Where the ADL has succeeded is in squelching openly hateful speech. Where it fails is that dancing around the topic of hate with erudition or intelligence is still acceptable and, in fact, often considered so “brave” as to be heroic. Thus, when Mel Gibson makes a movie depicting Jews as hateful, blood-thirsty murderers of Jesus, he gets a pass because he runs a marketing campaign painting himself as a victim of power seeking to crush him. However, when he actually comes right out and directly attacks Jews in a drunken moment of truth, he is openly vilified and rejected by society. We reject David Duke but we accept Walt & Mearsheimer with their “Israel Lobby” or Juan Cole with his “Likudniks.” We reject Ahmadinejad and his attacks on Israel’s existence or the historicity of the Holocaust, but we accept a former US President accusing Israel of nothing less than apartheid and of American Jews as holding the levers of power in US politics and media.
Maybe Foxman isn’t so crazy. After all, just because he’s paranoid, that doesn’t mean they’re not out to get him.