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The ADL & Palestine

In response to:

Israel in Peril from the June 7, 2012 issue

To the Editors:

In his review of Peter Beinart’s book The Crisis of Zionism, David Shulman argues, without basis, that the Anti-Defamation League retains a “visceral aversion” to the very idea of a free Palestinian state [NYR, June 7]. Nothing is further from the truth.

ADL’s support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to its public support for the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, and has remained consistent for nearly two decades. In both public statements and private meetings, ADL has clearly expressed support for an independent Palestinian state created as a result of direct negotiations between the parties living peacefully side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel.

This has been ADL’s longtime held public position, one that is shared by many in the American Jewish community, and it is therefore surprising that Mr. Shulman would so grossly misrepresent our longstanding support for Palestinian statehood.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director Anti-Defamation League New York City

David Shulman replies:

It is heartwarming to hear that the ADL supports a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine. I assume this means they will shortly be issuing an unequivocal statement condemning all Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories and in East Jerusalem.

As Mr. Foxman surely knows, Israeli settlement of the West Bank, quite apart from being a criminal act under international law (including the 1994 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Israel was a signatory: see Article 8(b)(2)(viii)), is not compatible with the idea of a Palestinian state. This rather elementary fact did not prevent the ADL from publishing an ad in The New York Times in 2009 claiming that “The Problem Isn’t Settlements.”

Mr. Foxman is on record as saying that President Obama deserves an “F” for his Israel policy in his first years in office, though he has, in Mr. Foxman’s eyes, “learned from his mistakes” and today would get a “B” (Newsmax, February 9, 2012). The “F” apparently applies to the period when Obama worked toward a settlement freeze and spoke clearly against the occupation, for example in his Cairo speech of June 2009. The “B” can only reflect Obama’s more recent capitulation to Benjamin Netanyahu’s manipulation. Note that Netanyahu, while paying lip service, under some duress, to the notion of two states, has in practice done everything in his power to undermine such an option, including accelerated building in the territories. The ADL, like many other American Jewish organizations, has supported him.

It is a cause of great sadness to me that the ADL, which once, long ago, played a necessary and honorable role in American Jewish life, has betrayed its historic ideals of social justice and basic human decency where Palestine and Palestinians are concerned.

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