James Traub, in his Times Mag piece on ADL head Abe Foxman, notes that
Foxman upset many of his colleagues by extending a welcome to Christian conservatives, whose leaders tended to be strongly pro-Israel even as they spoke in disturbing terms of America’s “Christian” identity.
True that. Brings to mind the Zionist Organization of America’s decision to honor Pat Robertson with a “State of Israel Fellowship Award.” Abe Foxman at the time demurred that “He’s not deserving, but I have no objections to other groups honoring him.” This despite Robertson having literally written the book on how Jews conspired with Free Masons and Illuminati to engineer the major wars in American history in order to manipulate the global market (Norman Podhoretz argued at the time that that kind of antisemitism was rendered irrelevant by Robertson’s Zionism just as in the Talmud a tiny bit of treif can’t render a huge kosher vat no longer kosher). Robertson went on to raise the ire of the ADL, which had previously highlighted some of his rantings with concern, when he suggested that Ariel Sharon’s strike was punishment from God.
Perhaps the most telling piece of Traub’s article is this exchange:
I asked if it was really right to call Carter, the president who negotiated the Camp David accords, an anti-Semite.
“I didn’t call him an anti-Semite.”
“But you said he was bigoted. Isn’t that the same thing?”
“No. ‘Bigoted’ is you have preconceived notions about things.”
The argument that the Israel lobby constricted debate was itself bigoted, he said.
“But several Jewish officials I’ve talked to say just that.”
“Are they bigoted?”
Foxman didn’t want to go there. He said that he had never heard any serious person make that claim.
This is the Abe Foxman worldview. Intellectual and/or moral serious equals the belief that the pro-Likud lobbying infrastructure exercises no pressure on the scope of the Israel debate in this country. Concern about the role of that lobby (unlike, say, concern about the role of the NRA) in shaping public perceptions and policy outcomes equals bigotry. And acceptance of Jews equals support for the actions of the current Israeli government.
This despite the ADL’s own research showing antisemitism declining in Europe at the same time that “anti-Israel” sentiment rises. As my friend Jacob Remes wrote at the time,
Abe Foxman, while hailing European governments that have worked to differentiate Israel from Jews, fails to do so himself and continues to equate the two.