Source: The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1996, pgs. 24, 93
“Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”
The ADL’s 1995 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents
by Lenni Brenner
If politically oriented Americans had to describe the Anti-Defamation League, most would call it the leading Jewish civil rights organization. They know it best for its annual survey of anti-Semitism, which is widely cited in our major dailies. Even many critics presume that at least the Audit can be relied upon. But the 1995 Audit reminds us, there are “lies, damn lies and statistics.”
Let’s start with the statistics. “The total number of…acts against both property and persons was 1,843. This…represents a decrease of…11 percent, from the 1994 total.” As there are 263 million Americans, and circa 5.5 million Jews, anti-Semitism is insignificant. However even the 1,843 figure distorts reality. It breaks down to 1,116 incidents of harassment, threat and assault, and 727 acts of vandalism, with the events in each category being so disparate that the two overall numbers tell us next to nothing.
Harassment, threats, and assaults includes “a large variety” of acts, from mailing Nazi literature to “Holocaust-denial advertisements in campus newspapers.” Thus there were 118 anti-Semitic campus incidents including six ads in school papers submitted by a rich crank. The editors printed them on free-press grounds. We may disagree with their decision, but there were no anti-Semitic incidents at those schools.
Because there were few campus incidents, they are described, even if minimally. Eight took place at Kennesaw College in Georgia over a three-month period. Three were “flyers distributed,�94″ three were flyers or messages taped to mailboxes or doors, two were “graffiti found in the library.” We speculate that all were done by one person, who then got a job delivering pizza or whatever. But by listing them separately it looks like Kennesaw is a hot-bed of anti-Semitism with almost 7 percent of all campus incidents taking place there. Similarly, there were six swastikas found on six days at Pennsylvania State University, and eight incidents at Kean College in New Jersey, with seven being things like “swastika drawn on an anti-bias poster.”
This mad itemization has not escaped criticism. Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, ridicules “too much counting of swastikas in bathrooms.” Sure enough, the Audit does this: “Swastikas and racist remarks found in a bathroom” (Kean College); “Sticker denying the Holocaust found in a bathroom” (Northwestern University); “Anti-Semitic graffiti on a bathroom wall targeting a Jewish professor” (University of Pittsburgh).
The eighth Kean College listing is “Leonard Jeffries gave a speech which included a diatribe against Jews.” However, we aren’t given an example. An illustration of the ADL’s success in demonizing some of its targets is the fact that well-intended people have been led into seeing Jeffries as a crackpot black racist. Yet this is what he actually said, in dealing with the Jewish role in black slavery, in a July 20, 1991 speech which the ADL claims is one of the most infamous orations of our age: “Now, we’re not talking about most Jews. Most Jews were being beatup and down Europepersecuted for being Jewish. We’re talking about rich Jews, and we specifically make that distinction.”
Five incidents were speeches by Stokely Carmichael, the 1960s civil rights leader, aka Kwame Ture. At the University of Maryland he declared that “Zionism is the enemy of humanity”; at Washington University in Missouri he “distributed literature from the World Wide African Anti-Zionist Front”; and at the University of Pennsylvania he “referred to ADL as the ‘African Death League.’”
What kind of a monster are we dealing with here, Holmes? Given the ADL’s ranting against the African National Congress while it was fighting apartheid, not a few blacks (and whites) would see “African Death League” as a carefully measured description. In any case Ture is no anti-Semite. His position was spelled out during the Iraq war, in a May 1991 article in The Anti-War Activist: “We must properly distinguish between Judaism and Zionism. But our slogan must be King’s slogan: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”
There were “108 individuals arrested in connection with anti-Semitic bias crimes.” The FBI charged four named suspects, involved with the “Tri-State Militia,” in a failed effort to bomb several organizations, including the ADL. A 22-year-old was sentenced to jail for mounting a pig’s head on a synagogue. Two youths who desecrated a Jewish cemetery on Halloween were arrested on state charges in New Jersey and indicted under a civil rights statute by a federal grand jury. “A racially mixed group of five young men, ages 15 to 18, was…convicted” for two assaults. But the other shoes never fall. We are told nothing about the other individuals.
Every poll shows anti-Semitism declining.
There is a reason. Irwin Suall, the ADL’s chief fact-finder, i.e., head spy, once told me that the majority of those arrested for anti-Semitic crimes were white teenagers with no connection to hate organizations. Such incidents, painting swastikas on tombstones and the like, don’t rise above malicious mischief. They do it because it makes adults furious. Indeed only 17 incidents, down from 24, involved organized neo-Nazi skinheads.
The most serious incident occurred on Dec. 8, 1995, when Roland Smith, an African-American ex-mental patient, stormed into Freddy’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street in Harlem. Eight people, none Jewish, died in the blaze he set, including Smith, who had demonstrated against the Jewish owner over a dispute with a black tenant. But the Feb. 27 New York Times reported that “law enforcement officials said they had been unable to tie Mr. Smith’s actions to any other protesters.”
Smith and the white would-be bombers saw “the Jews” as the enemy of their people, but their actions are abhorred by the vast majority of those they claim to champion. Every poll shows anti-Semitism declining. But although the 1992 Highlights from an Anti-Defamation League Survey on Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in America admitted that “a 1964 ADL survey showed that three-of-ten Americans (29 percent) held a significant number of anti-Semitic beliefs. Today, the number is down to 20 percent.” The Survey called an almost one-third decline in anti-Semitic beliefs a “modest decrease” and a “jarring testimony to the intractableness of certain strains of prejudice.” Yet the poll shows such views to be most likely found among “older, less-educated” people, which means that anti-Semitism will continue declining. Archie Bunker isn’t about to become the American Adolf Hitler.
The Survey found that the percentage accepting traditional canards about sharp Jewish business practices is down, but that the percentages believing Jews stick together, are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S., and have too much power have gone up. However, Philip Weiss discussed this in the Jan. 29 issue of New York magazine: “(W)hen the Anti-Defamation League surveys the goyim, one of the questions it asks is whether they think Jews stick together. If they say yes, that’s evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes. Urging Jews to stick together on the one hand while at the same time blasting the world for believing that we stick together: I don’t think you can really have it both ways.”
Jerome Chanes, editor of Antisemitism in America Today, also responded to the Survey: “Jews in America are a power group; is it unreasonable for some people to ask whether Jews have too much power?” Weiss pointed out that “When the NRA exercises political power, it’s a hot-button issue. When Jewish money plays a part, discussing it is anti-Semitic.”
Weiss correctly remarked that “The redistribution of wealth and privilege helps explain the friction between blacks and Jews. For all the historic talk about commonality in persecution, our statuses are today sharply different.” Yet though the ADL never stops denouncing black anti-Semitism, the poll showed that “the overall level of anti-Semitism among blacks has declined.” In the last New York senatorial race, the black percentage for Robert Abrams, a Jew, was higher than the percentage of Jews voting for him.
The main black ADL target is Louis Farrakhan, who has definitely expressed anti-Jewish sentiments. His paper, The Final Call, reported on March 15, 1995 that he claims the ADL “has been used to fight anybody…who would expose those Jews who have been at the root of the control of the banking system of the Federal Reserve.” However, the ADL doesn’t claim the Nation of Islam is involved in violence against Jews.
The ADL vehemently opposed the Million Man March, calling it “The Largest Event Led by an Anti-Semite in American History.” But Farrakhan made no anti-Semitic remarks at the rally. He called for reconciliation with the Jewish establishment, and urged the crowd to join the mosque, church or synagogue of their choice.
Jew-hatred will never be a basis for a black mass movement. In fact such a movement is the practical answer to it. This was proved by Cornel West, Ron Daniels and other progressives who ignored the ADL and united with Farrakhan. He knew that if he injected anti-Semitism into the March, those progressives, whose participation in planning it was crucial, would have raced for the exit.
Another Freddy’s can happen. But an anti-Semitic mass movement, black or white, can’t happen, not even in the wake of a 1929-style Depression. Anti-Semitic traditions permeated Germany’s upper and middle classes. Our capitalists are not anti-Semitesthe CIA and the Federal Reserve are headed by Jewsand our middle class worships the ground under Jewish entertainers.
Weiss wrote that “We were oppressed. Today we aren’t, but we still seem to be competing with the blacks for victim points.” Surely the ADL is guilty of this when it gives endless publicity to Holocaust deniers who most Americans would have never heard of but for it. And Bronfman is correct. The ADL wildly inflates the significance of contemporary anti-Semitism when it patrols the men’s rooms of America, from Key West to the Aleutian Islands, counting swastikas.
Brandeis sociologist Earl Raab says only one in 10 Jews experienced anti-Semitism in recent years. Given the propensity of Zionists to see anti-Semitism in even mild criticisms of Israel, the percentage who had to confront real Jew-hatred is surely smaller. Yet, according to J. J. Goldberg, in the May 17, 1993 New Republic, “ever growing numbers of Jews believe anti-Semitism in America is rising to crisis proportions.” He says that, “In private, some Jewish agency staffers insist the alarmist tone set by….the ADL” is responsible for the hysteria. “People give generously to the…ADL.”
Certainly it is trying to justify its $32 million per year budget. In addition it uses these audits to push its purblind political agenda, notably the notion that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. And since the 1960s the ADL has been the venomous enemy of all black movements that empathize with the Palestinians as fellow oppressed.
However, on one point Goldberg is incorrect. The “ever-growing numbers” of Jews that he sees believing the ADL line only represent the minority of Jews who still are affiliated to the rump organized community. The bulk of better-educated Jewish youth who are intermarrying are not usually polled by the surveys he relies upon. And the truly significant statistic is that the number of informed Jews who see through the ADL’s confidence game, as with Bronfman, Weiss, Chanes, Raab and Goldberg, is rising.
He was hopeful this would come to pass.
In an interview earlier this year, Yehudi Menuhin told a Reuters reporter he was saddened by renewed fighting in the Middle East, “because Israel needs friends and the reaction to the present unleashing of indiscriminate killing is not going to win Israel any friends.”
In a beautifully written autobiography, Unfinished Journey, Yehudi Menuhin tells of how he began playing the violin when he was four. The reader can picture a little boy in knee-pants having the confidence to present himself before distinguished musicians and announce that they should give him an audience. He made his debut at the age of seven. By the time he was 13, he had performed in Paris, London, New York and Berlin. In Berlin, his performance was hailed by physicist Albert Einstein.
Reuters’ reporter Roger Jeal in London wrote that Yehudi Menuhin was probably the world’s highest paid musician “before he extended his range to conducting and teaching.” One might wonder if the change in what he was paid—and how many concerts he played—did not come about because he increasingly played his violin and spoke on behalf of greater understanding and justice—not just for Jews—but for all of humankind as well.
Earlier this year Yehudi Menuhin turned 80. I salute him as one of my great heroes. And it seems to me that father Moshe Menuhim would be most proud of this son.