Thursday, July 30, 2009

Desperate Fanatics: ADL Pounds the Table

The ADL’s shift in emphasis from justifiably combating bigotry (the 'old' anti-Semitism) to being an advocate for Israel by suppressing critics and criticism of Israel’s misconduct (the 'new' anti-Semitism) has been dramatic, notes Alan Sabrosky.

Fanatics, it has been observed, are those who redouble their efforts when they lose sight of their goal, or at least feel its attainment slipping from their grasp. This describes precisely the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), founded in 1913 principally to combat anti-Semitism and closely linked since its inception to the emerging Zionist movement, which increasingly has resorted to the defamation of Israel’s critics as part of its avowed mission to support “the Jewish State by advocating for Israel.”

It really isn’t surprising that the ADL, along with AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the brigade of associated organizations lobbying for Israel, should employ such tactics. Like lawyers obliged to pound the courtroom table when law and evidence are both against their client, the ADL is faced with the uncomfortable reality that both international law and the evidence on the ground condemn Israel as a rogue state, saved from sanctions and embargoes only by US vetoes in the UN Security Council and endless references to an historical Holocaust perpetrated by Europeans, all to sidestep condemnation and culpability for their systemic oppression of Palestinians who had nothing to do with it.

The New Anti-Semitism

The ADL’s shift in emphasis from justifiably combating bigotry (the “old” anti-Semitism) to being an advocate for Israel by suppressing critics and criticism of Israel’s misconduct (the “new” anti-Semitism) has been dramatic. The difficulty is that the so-called “new anti-Semitism” is so wide-ranging in scope that it encompasses almost everyone who is not an Israeli partisan, while anyone who criticizes Israeli war crimes or the Zionist lobby’s support of Israel becomes in their lexicon an indictable accessory after the fact to the architects of the Holocaust.

The ADL understands that while the national mainstream media can be manipulated and elected politicians can be bought, none of that would matter greatly if the American public ever learned what actually happens in the Middle East. Disinformation alone is not enough; critics need to be discredited and, if necessary, destroyed as well. Character assassination is a common place weapon. Outright lies and half-truths confuse the issues. Bribes and coercion in the form of political contributions or so-called “charitable” donations given or withheld add muscle to their efforts. A large stable of syndicated columnists disseminate their propaganda and erode the legitimacy of their victims.

The ADL and its cohorts have enjoyed a remarkable string of successes over the years in implementing this strategy, but a series of recent developments have started to shake its pillars. One is the growth of the internet, and with it the availability of news from sources that the Zionists can neither manage nor contain. Another was the brutal onslaught against Gaza in 2008-2009, conducted to applause from then-President Bush and the US Congress but an upswing in criticism of Israel, especially in the Jewish community. A third was AIPAC’s successful opposition to the appointment of a distinguished diplomat named Charles Freeman to a senior intelligence post, a success undermined in part because the timing dictated that it be done so publicly. And the last was the election in Israel of a government that would openly and accurately be characterized as “fascist” if it had come to power anywhere else, further unsettling many of the ADL’s erstwhile supporters, who could tolerate (barely) Netanyahu’s return but viewed Avigdor Lieberman with distaste or loathing.

The Price of Arrogance

A misreading of these developments plus a measure of arrogance led the ADL to make one of the few serious missteps in its history, when it attempted to use its influence to pressure the University of California to censure a professor at the Santa Barbara campus who had used highly critical graphics of Israel’s assault on Gaza in his class. That the professor, William Robinson, was Jewish made the ADL’s efforts more pointed, because Jewish critics of Israel are more difficult for them to counter – labels like “self-hating Jew” don’t go quite as far as “neo-Nazi” and the like. The details are available elsewhere (see links below), but the ADL ended up with mud on its organizational face when the campus community rallied around Professor Robinson and the administration rejected (albeit belatedly) their effort.

When it looked like the ADL’s action would succeed, the international director of a pro-Zionist group called “Stand With Us” had stated “that the investigation against sociology professor William I. Robinson could set a precedent for more action against Israel critics at other universities.” When it didn’t end the way they expected, they turned out not to be good losers, putting this spin on the outcome at their website: If you are concerned about our college campuses, here is an important bulletin: UCSB professors are free to peddle propaganda designed to indoctrinate students with their personal prejudices. Neither professional conduct codes nor intellectual standards set limits on this freedom. Anything goes. This anarchy is defended in the name of “academic freedom.”

One must concede that pro-Zionist groups are better than most at identifying propaganda and prejudice, if only because they themselves indulge in so much of it. They just aren’t used to losing, but they had better get ready to lose a good deal more in the future. Too much is happening that they cannot either conceal or finesse, and images from Gaza and elsewhere tell a tale to Americans and others that all of the verbiage from the Zionist propaganda machine simply cannot counter indefinitely.

But perhaps ADL and company have the right of it in one respect, and the new definition of anti-Semitism is any criticism of any domestic or foreign policy of the state of Israel, or of any action on the part of some Jews in the Diaspora in support of Israel. So be it. In that case, the rest of us need to understand that the oppression of Palestinians and the victimization of Israel’s neighbors are crimes that cry out for opposition, no matter what label their perpetrators try to hang on it. And if opposing those crimes is now anti-Semitism, according to the ADL, then anti-Semitism in its new form has become a badge of honor to be worn with pride by people of conscience everywhere.

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at

Source: Middle East Online

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