After Foxman OKs surveillance of American Muslims, John Lewis, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and EJ Dionne attend his gala

Israel/Palestine

It’s amazing how mainstream the Anti-Defamation League is, even when it comes out with stupendously Islamophobic statements.

On Monday, for instance, Congressman John Lewis and E.J. Dionne of Brookings addressed the organization’s 100th-anniversary gala— as did Fred Lawrence, president of Brandeis, and Nadine Strossen, the NYU Law professor.

But the day before Abe Foxman, the ADL’s director, gave an interview to Haaretz in which he described Islamophobia as a “natural response” to Muslims and refused to condemn the idea of surveilling the entire Muslim community in the supposed interest of US security!

Chemi Shalev: You don’t think that “Muslim-baiting” is much more acceptable in the mainstream media than, say, “Jew-baiting”? There is a Congressman now who is calling for the authorities to keep track of the entire Muslim community.

Foxman: I don’t think that’s Muslim-baiting. It’s a natural response. It may be wise or unwise. But I think America’s got an issue now, and not only America. You look at France, you look at London, you look at Amsterdam—most of these incidents have come from Muslim communities that have been brought in and are not assimilating. Just like after 9/11, America is now questioning where the balance is between security and freedom of expression: Should we follow the ethnic communities? Should we be monitoring mosques? This isn’t Muslim-baiting—it’s driven by fear, by a desire for safety and security.

And the same day as that news broke, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ann Lewis spoke at the ADL gala. Liberal Democrats.

Foxman perpetuates the fiction that infiltrating and spying on mosques will somehow make the U.S. safer. But that ignores the fact that most U.S. mosques are institutions that support American values, as this study shows. The Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib has more on why Foxman’s answer is so problematic: 

That Foxman doesn’t balk at the premise of the question—politicians calling for all Muslims to be tracked—might be less galling if not for the fact that there are already programs for blanket spying on the basis of religion by the New York Police Department’s Intel Division. The efforts were revealed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series by the Associated Press. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg maintained that only direct leads were followed, but that’s impossible to reconcile with an AP report that the NYPD recommended its investigators spy on Shia mosques for no reason other than the fact that most Iranians are Shia. Another investigative report last year by the New York Review of Books chronicled the work of NYPD Intel Division, and found cases of likely entrapment (that is, actual laying bait for Muslims). After much of the AP series had already been published, the ADL gave the head Intel Division an award for—this will sound familiar—”dedication to the safety and security of one of the nation’s largest metropolitan populations.”

Foxman’s intolerant views are reflected in ADL’s track record. According to federal filings, the ADL Foundation gave $2,500 to the Islam-bashing organization Middle East Forum in 2006.

Daniel Pipes, the head of the Middle East Forum, suggested that Obama is a Muslim and has issued warnings about Muslim immigration:

The growing Muslim immigration to the West raises a host of disturbing issues-cultural this time, not military-especially in Western Europe.

All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has had harsh words for Pipes and the Middle East Forum, saying he’s part of “a tiny, organized cadre of American anti-Muslim activists that is almost singlehandedly responsible for engineering an artificial national panic – at least, among the gullible – over the supposed threat of Islamic jihadists.”

But Foxman has been standing up for Daniel Pipes for a long time— since 2003.
And even though Foxman’s organization condemned Islamophobic remarks made by Geert Wilders, who calls himself an “anti-Islam campaigner” and friend of the National Front in Europe…
Daniel Pipes’s organization helped pay Wilders’s legal bills. Gushes Wilders:
Thank you, MEF’s Legal Project, on behalf of myself and all freedom-loving people in the Netherlands.
Looking through its federal filings, ADL has also given $11,200 to StandWithUs, the rightwing Zionist group in the US; $1000 to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces; $4,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is building a “museum of tolerance” on a historic Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem; and $1000 to the settler-supporting Zionist Organization of America. 
 
Stand With Us, ZOA and the Simon Wiesenthal Center really underscore ADL’s right-wing Israel activism. Not a huge surprise. But then what are EJ Dionne and John Lewis and Fred Lawrence and Debbie Wasserman Schultz doing at its gala?
 

P.S. Last night CSPAN featured a panel on global terrorism at the Gala at which an Israeli Major General spoke and then Judy Miller, Elliott Abrams and Benjamin Wittes held forth. Why did I turn to ESPN?

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