The Conspiracy

The Reading List: Sunday Brunch – ADL self-destruct continues

As noted in Ben’s pre-Shabbat post, we’re starting a new feature here at the New Voices blog called The Reading List, a daily round-up of links from around the Jewier corners of the interblogotwitsphere. Our goal is to do a beefier edition on Sundays, for your Sunday brunch reading pleasure. This Sunday section will feature links on a particular issue from the previous week with a little more commentary than most days.

The big purple thing is the WTC site. The little tiny red thing is the future home of a Muslim community center.

Today, I’ll tackle the ADL’s continuing self-destruct process. We’ve now had a week and a half to digest Anti-Defamation League honcho Abe Foxman’s shocking revelation that the ADL would not support the Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim community center modeled on JCCs–though with a more inter-religious dialog bent. The Cordoba Initiative is two blocks north of the former World Trade Center site on a street that no one on their way to work at the soon-to-be rebuilt WTC would walk down. The project’s opponents began to come out of the word work a few weeks ago when it became a New York state midterm elections wedge issue for the right. As the GOP is often so good at, opponents have invented a new term for the Cordoba Initiative–The Ground Zero Mosque. Never mind that it’s neither a mosque nor located at the former site of the WTC. It’s an old Burlington Coat Factory building.

Yo, Foxman. Cool it, dude.

Yo, Foxman. Cool it, dude.

What follows is a round up of some posts and articles about this that are a little more off the beaten path.

From FiveThirtyEight–where the above map came from–an analysis of why the polling that says most Americans don’t support a “Ground Zero Mosque” is misleading

Full disclosure: This post is by me. I wrote this week at Jewschool about why the AJC’s addition to the alphabet soup of Jewish orgs weighing in on the issue wasn’t particularly helpful, as they voice their support while remaining highly suspicious of them Moslems

Ben Sales, our fearless leader here at New Voices, says Jewish orgs shouldn’t be mouthing off about the Cordoba Initiative at all, while I disagreed vehemently in the comments

Jewschool pointed us to the twitter parody account for Foxman, @Foxmanides, which is pumping out such gems as “Oh wait, Israel’s friends with Turkey again? Armenian geno-wha?”

Peter Beinart writes at The Daily Beast that what has happened with the ADL over the issue is the natural result of the ADL’s two-headed behavior, one highly respected policy for American civil rights issue–and one rightist pro-settler “Israel never does wrong” stance in Israel. Says Beinart, this is the chickens coming home to roost.

At the Huffington Post, almost surrealistically, the story of Fareed Zakaria returning an award and prize money from the ADL , saying, “Does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?”

Perhaps the most revealing piece from this week is this NPR interview with Foxman. In the interview, Foxman reiterates his earlier point that the ADL is against the opponents of the Cordoba Initiative who are opposed to it because they’re bigots. Rather, they’re opposed to it because of its location–“in the shadow” of the WTC, according to one ADL statement, which it quite literally is not–and because its insensitive. Essentially, Foxman is saying, traumatized Americans have a right to not be offended. Gimme a break, Abe.

But the real issue, truly at the heart of Foxman’s opposition, comes out here:

…for me it’s similar to a position that the Jewish community took, oh, about 15, 20 years ago when there was an effort by the Carmelite nuns to build a convent in or around Auschwitz. And we then said we welcome your love, we welcome your prayers, but please don’t do it on this site. This was a controversy for eight years.

We in the Jewish community, we in the ADL got accused of being bigots, that we are opposed to Christianity or the Catholic Church. And eventually the pope understood and said, OK, build it a mile away.

Exactly.  This is not about the WTC or 9/11 or even Muslim for Foxman. The man is a Holocaust survivor and he believes that survivors are entitled to behave irrationally because that’s how he behaves, seeing antisemitism lurking around every corner. He has said repeatedly that survivors are entitled to irrational, emotional feelings and actions. Certainly. But American religious freedom isn’t suspended when a few survivors–and a lot of people who live very far away from New York City–feel a little offended.

Shavua Tov.

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3 Older Responses to “The Reading List: Sunday Brunch – ADL self-destruct continues”

  1. Ben Sales
    August 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Also check out this JPost article, which is essentially a space for Foxman to defend himself and his hypocritical claims: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=183501

  2. David A.M. Wilensky
    August 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I like his use of the word “nuanced.” By which he means illogically and incomprehensibly complex.

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  1. Your semi-annual David’s mood indicator. And the mood is good. | The Reform Shuckle - August 11, 2010

    […] here’s the coolest bit. Larry Yudelson from Ben Yehuda Press noticed that I had been blogging quite a bit about the ADL’s recent spasm about the thing that is neither a mosque nor located […]

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