By Monty Warner
August 21, 2001
AS AN EARLY TEEN, I was playing in a YMCA basketball league in Sumter, South Carolina, a leafy, sleepy southern town of about 35,000 where I was born and raised. Being of Jewish descent, I had to play for a Methodist team because the Jewish population in the county — indeed, in the state, at that time — was limited enough to preclude its own league. The YMCA was agreeable to this, and a few other Jewish kids from surrounding areas played as well.
After one of the games, I remember standing by the scoreboard. Ahead of me was one of the Jewish parents, shouting at one of the coaches. The woman wasn’t demanding more playing time for her son, nor was she a diehard seeking an explanation for why we were so bad that year. The woman, in full view of and to the distraction and discomfort of many, was demanding an apology from the coach for hurting her son’s feelings. The coach’s sin? Taking her boy out of the game for poor play and making him cry. I thought the whole episode somewhat amusing until two well-respected men in the community passed by, and I overheard one of them say to the other: “That is exactly why our kind has trouble with their kind.” Upon hearing this, I didn’t find myself offended; at thirteen years old, I found myself agreeing with them.
Today we have our very own national Jewish basketball mom. Just as shrill, just as petulant, just as obnoxious, and useless to boot. Our advocate, armed with a $50 million annual budget to ensure the meanies never get us, is Abraham Foxman. Foxman heads the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a once proud, worthy and worthwhile protector of Jews and their faith. Under Foxman’s brand of leadership, the ADL has devolved into an opportunistic, intolerant, grief-grubbing stench — a “rights” group for any and all who wish to feel offended — one which, in bottomless efforts to remain PC-safe, unconditionally aligns itself with groups like the Black Caucus and NAACP, both of which strongly support the pending anti-Semitic U.N. Conference on Racism. Think about that. You hate me, so by all means I support you. Why? Because I’m pathetic.
This past June, Carl Pearlston, a Board Member of the ADL and longtime loyalist to its early causes, resigned from the organization after 25 years of service. Pearlston began to receive increasingly hostile responses from other Board Members for his more conservative views, and was informed by Foxman that “he would have to realize that over 95% of those involved in the ADL were liberal and would be unsympathetic to his views.” Notwithstanding the adage that for every five Jews in the room there are 10 opinions on everything, the notion that 95 percent (or even 55 percent) of all Jews support bilingual education, gun control, feminism, affirmative action, abortion and the homosexual agenda across the board is not only unfathomable, but further evidence that Foxman has absolutely no legitimate claim to representing the interests of the Jewish masses.
For years now, despite numerous unflattering (and under-the-radar) news stories about his complicity in various scandals too numerous and squalid to confine to this space, Abraham Foxman has held himself and been held forth by others as one of the chief national political voices of Jewish people. His misuse of and/or recklessness with ADL funds (see Henry Lyons), his whorish behavior in the Marc Rich pardon, and his general odor in defending such cosmopolitan thuggery; to say nothing of self-righteous condemnations of what he arbitrarily decides to be someone else’s “intolerance,” is brought to the public’s attention almost weekly. Last year, during the presidential election, Foxman, using extreme examples, pulled incendiary comments off the Web to imply that anyone that didn’t want Joe Lieberman on the national ticket was probably anti-Semitic. Well, in some cases that’s entirely possible. It’s also possible that they simply thought Joe Lieberman was a putz. Or more significantly, they just might not have agreed with him on the issues. But the substance of disagreement is not important to Mr. Foxman. Regrettably, whatever legitimacy may have accompanied such charges has been diluted by the frequency with which Foxman lodges them, largely in an effort to secure more media attention to raise more money to continue the never-ending battle to tell everyone else how not to offend Abraham Foxman. To his credit, it’s a pretty good gig.
In April, Foxman was quoted in the New York Times assaulting David Horowitz’s campus ad campaign as “just another means of fomenting racism and hate.” The quip was so lacking in resonance it was almost as if he was walking out to lunch and asked what to do about the Horowitz situation, and in reply he said “put something together, use some of the old text, and throw in uh…racism and hate.” Instead of joining Horowitz in showing the guts to condemn the racist, anti-American black Left, Foxman threw his own to the wolves for a short-term political pop. Foxman: the man, the myth — the self-loathing maggot.
And so it is that, as an observer of all these “anti-hate, don’t hurt my feelings” campaigns, a logical, rational Jew can’t help but logically ask himself: “Exactly what is it that this man has ever actually accomplished?” Surely he can take credit for the fact that there might be one less KKK group in the world (which would bring the grand total to four), or the fact that more Jews are now allowed in certain country clubs (lawsuits have a way of greasing such processes)… but concretely, what is it that Abraham Foxman has done besides bend the ADL over for the Leftist agenda of the Democratic Party, and give much of America an image of most Jews as whiny, petulant, hate-thought shylocks? Sure, he sticks his nose in just about everything that gets him headlines (i.e. the future and futile U.N. Conference on Racism), but the real answer is pretty simple: not much.
To be sure, I am very proud of my heritage. I believe Jewish people are some of the most brilliant and determined people on the planet. From Walter Annenberg to Max Fisher to much of the work of Steven Spielberg, Jews have consistently risen from humble, even punishing beginnings to not only enjoy great power and success, but pave the way for others of all stripes to enjoy the same. And yet somewhere along the way — in oft-embarrassing displays of uninformed hyperemotion a la Foxman — many children and grandchildren of those who suffered so horribly in the Holocaust have awarded themselves the right to gripe about this country as if it were not the one that gave their ancestors their liberty. As if they themselves were in the Holocaust. As if we are all just one conservative Attorney General or High Court appointment away from being stripped of our “rights,” which have basically expanded to include what any sniveling Manhattan/LA liberal feels like doing at any given moment. The ignorance of how embarrassing, foolish and distasteful this is to the rest of the country is glaringly front and center, and a textbook example of how some Jews contribute heartily to their own alienation. This in turn allows hucksters such as Abraham Foxman to emerge — the kid nobody liked but who is determined to make others like you — and raise millions to salve the wounds of the very people he helps afflict with a crippling sense of victimhood.
Self-aggrandizing hustles such as this have in recent years become an indisputable national pastime. Angst-ridden souls with massive inferiority complexes now frequently cloak themselves in the mantras of groups such as “The National Organization for Women,” and then use the broad title to imply that they in fact represent everyone who might fall into such categories. This is a cynical, manipulative, outright lie, and in this regard there are few bigger demagogues than Abraham Foxman. Under his leadership, the mission statement of the ADL, the organization created solely to safeguard Jewish interests, now reads: “dedicated to translating democratic ideals into a way of life for all Americans in our time.” One translation would be aligning itself with Americans like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which in its school workshops has taken the liberty of edifying our teens on the finer points of “fisting.” Another translation is more simple: Whatever raises us money to continue projecting our misery onto you.
It is an old axiom in politics that the longer an assertion goes unchallenged, the quicker it becomes an article of faith. This axiom has lent significant legitimacy to people like Jesse Jackson and Abraham Foxman. No one questions them. No one looks at the sinister, highly unproductive leadership they have attempted to peddle to millions and stops for a moment to say: “Who anointed this person? What makes Abraham Foxman the ultimate arbiter of who is anti-Semitic and who isn’t? Is there a school for this? Why do I have to listen to him or Jesse Jackson as an authority on anything?” Of course, anyone who tenders such a challenge would immediately be branded a racist (or, in my case, a self-hating Jew) for not lining up to pull the collective pimp wagon, but at this point even that seems worthwhile. It is worthwhile because these men are not leaders. These men are liars — the corrupt, failed and demagogic sort — who have proven repeatedly that they will, to the clear detriment of their own people, pursue or create any cause that generates them media or money. To wit, one of Abe Foxman’s recent public forays on behalf of Jews was to loudly condemn the naming of the Hurricane Israel as discriminatory against Jews. If this is what has the Jewish community atwitter, then surely a lot of people have missed something. Moreover, that Mr. Foxman could even consider this to be a matter worth ten seconds of his life indicates that perhaps it’s time for him to begin to come to terms with the fact that he hasn’t accomplished much in it. In a Washington Post op-ed recently, Mr. Foxman almost gleefully talked up the pending U.N. Conference on Racism (which President Bush has wisely pulled the U.S. out of) as an excellent antidote to combat racism around the world. What he failed to foresee (or acknowledge in his zeal to support the Mutual Admiration Society event) was the potential for the U.S. to withdraw from the event, a move largely predicated on the insistence of Palestinians that language condemning Jews in very harsh tones be adopted for the Conference. Again, this is the leader of my people? I don’t think so. This is a snot-nosed man-child who represents everything neither I nor many other Jews want anything to do with. Leaders provide leadership, not handkerchiefs and crutches.
Monty Warner is Senior Director for the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Readers may e-mail him at [email protected]