ruling by a federal judge in Denver March 31 which upheld most of a
year-old $10 million jury finding that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
libeled a couple by falsely portraying them as anti-Semites may at last
call into question the group’s heretofore unassailable reputation as the
sole "defender of the Jews" in America.
District Judge Edward Nottingham lambasted the
87-year-old organization in a 46-page order and memorandum of decision,
according to the Jewish weekly newspaper Forward in its April 13,
2001 edition, saying the organization had falsely endorsed and
publicized accusations of bigotry in a nasty neighborhood dispute
without either investigating the case or weighing the consequences.
"Based on its position and history as a well-respected
civil rights institution, it is not unreasonable to infer that public
charges of anti-Semitism by the ADL will be taken seriously and assumed
by many to be true without question," the judge wrote. "In that respect,
the ADL is in a unique position of being able to cause substantial harm
to individuals when it lends its backing to allegations of
Conservative economist Jude Wanniski applauded the
judge’s ruling, writing in a memo to his "Jewish friends" that he was
"delighted" to read about the judge’s ruling. "If you have been
following my memos for any length of time, you know I have been calling
the Anti-Defamation League the ‘Defamation League,’ precisely because of
its practice of stamping the ‘anti-Semitic’ label on people who insist
they are not anti-Semitic," he wrote.
Jay Horowitz, the attorney who represented William and
Dorothy Quigley in the dispute that erupted in the affluent suburb of
Evergreen, Colo., went even further in his condemnation of the group.
"The ADL seized an opportunity to aggrandize itself as
the defender of the Jews by unjustly accusing a middle-class couple of
being anti-Semitic crooks," attorney Horowitz is quoted as saying in the
Forward. "And all along they showed an unbelievable arrogance."
The ADL said it would appeal the decision.
The ruling comes at the same time ADL National Director
Abraham Foxman recently declared that he "probably" made a mistake in
writing a letter to President Clinton urging the pardon of fugitive
financier Marc Rich, after receiving some $250,000 in contributions over
the past 15 years.
Furthermore, a group of Arab American, Black and Native
American groups filed a lawsuit against the ADL in 1993 claiming the ADL
paid a former San Francisco Police officer and a CIA agent to spy on
them. After the surveillance information was obtained, it was shared
with the white apartheid government of South Africa, as well as with the
government of Israel, according to reports.
The ADL settled the suit, agreeing to pay $200,000 in
plaintiffs’ legal fees and set up a $25,000 community relations fund.
The unfair treatment of the Quigley family is not an
unusual tactic of the ADL.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the
Nation of Islam, has similarly been unfairly accused of anti-Semitism,
and has seen every effort to meet with Jewish leaders rebuffed by the
ADL, according to Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard F. Muhammad.
"I have made many efforts over the years on behalf of
the Honorable Louis Farrakhan to get them to sit down," Mr. Muhammad
told The Final Call.
ADL officials have never agreed to meet with Minister
Farrakhan, he said, and "other Jewish leaders have agreed to meet, only
to cancel the meeting when they’ve been contacted by the ADL, who want
to intimidate and control" the dialogue between Jews and those the group
has chosen to target.
Mr. Wanniski agrees. "The ADL has made a game of
portraying the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan as being
anti-Semitic, to the point where a majority of white Americans believe
that nonsense," he wrote.
"I’ve gotten to know Min. Farrakhan like a brother over
the last five years and know that he has made repeated attempts to find
reconciliation with the ADL and the leaders of the Jewish community. He
is a Muslim and has an appreciation of the Palestinian point of view in
the Middle East, but that does not make him anti-Semitic.
"He invited me and my wife Patricia to his World Islamic
Conference in Chicago in 1997 and said we could wander in and out of any
of the workshops or plenary sessions. We never heard a single word that
I would consider to be anti-Semitic, and as I had grown up a Catholic in
a Jewish neighborhood of Brooklyn, I would certainly know anti-Semitism
if I sniffed it," he wrote.
--by Askia Muhammad