The Anti-Defamation League
Recently the president of the United States, George W. Bush, lit a Menorah in the White House and invited the children of his Jewish associates to a Chanuka party. This may seem ordinary to some who know little of American Jewish history. However, those who know the name Leo Frank will agree that the 87 years which have passed since Frank was brutally murdered in Georgia for being a Jew have made an enormous difference in the position of the American Jewish community.
the time of the Frank murder, the Virginia “aristocrat” Woodrow Wilson was
president of the United States. Slander of Jews in newspapers was common and
Jews were then the butt of so-called comedians who imitated “Jewish” accents
and repeated endlessly all those idiotic canards which were associated with so
much cruelty and brutality towards the Jewish people in Europe.
Frank was lynched by hate mongers in 1915 who pretended that he was responsible
for the killing of Mary Phagan, an employee at the National Pencil Factory in
Atlanta, Ga., of which Frank was then the manager. Frank was convicted of this crime despite lack of evidence in
an atmosphere of hate punctuated by a mob screaming in the streets, “hang the
Jew.” The jury, fearing for their lives and inspired by anti-Jewish bigotry
found Frank guilty and condemned him to death.
the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rectify this injustice, the Governor of
Georgia, John M. Slaton, commuted Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment with
the result that a lynch mob entered the prison and hanged Frank. None of the lynchers were ever apprehended for this brutal
Slaton left office in 1915 and moved out of Georgia for fear of his life and
that of his family who were threatened by the murderers of Frank. The names of
the killers are known and have been published in recent months.
most important consequence of the murder of Frank was the founding of the
Anti-defamation League of B’nai B’rith. That league was the idea of Sigmund
Livingston, a Chicago lawyer who defined the objectives of the League “to
stop…………….. the defamation of the Jewish people”. Since then the ADL has been very successful in preventing the
use of vulgar epithets towards the Jewish people in the media, in using the law
to fight blatant discrimination against us and in standing up to Arab propaganda
against Jews and Israel.
ADL has offices all over the United States (not in Buffalo), and has grown into
a major, well funded organization during the nine decades of its existence. As a
consequence of this growth, the ADL has also developed a huge bureaucracy. That
bureaucracy is today topped by ambitious national directors,
executives, associate executives,
assistant executives, and a host of other “machers” who now feast on the
success of past generations.
large salaries, vast offices, numerous secretaries, expense accounts, social
honors and other emoluments accompany incumbency in one of the offices of the
ADL and many of our other Jewish organizations. Consequently we are also plagued
by the in-fighting and rivalries which always occur when power is involved.
the Los Angeles regional director of the ADL, David Lehrer, was fired on January
6 of this year. Lehrer has worked for ADL for 27 years and is highly regarded as
a great fund raiser and innovative defender of the Jewish people in the western
United States where a greater and greater number of Jews are now settled.
His success evidently worried the New York establishment.
Lehrer symbolizes the growth of the western Jewish community in this
country, a growth which challenges the New York establishment. In short, Lehrer
was fired because it was feared that he would lead the Los Angeles Jewish
community out of the domination by the New York bosses.
are those among us who now say that we no longer need all the “top-heavy”
Jewish organizations which compete for our money so that they can pay salaries
upward of $400,000 to so-called “executives”. The firing of Lehrer seems to
confirm such a view. We do need an anti-defamation organization, but do we need
dictatorial executives who rule for life over organizations originally set up to
service the Jewish people? Do we need self-appointed elitists who collect our
money for their private purposes?
this. If the president of the United States cannot serve more than ten years
(that is right - ten years. Look at the Constitution again) and normally serves
only four or eight years, why should not the executive of a Jewish agency be
rotated every four or five years? “Power corrupts,” said Lord Acton, “and
absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
split between east coast and west coast Jewish organizations became visible in
1994 when the University of Judaism became autonomous from the Jewish
Theological Seminary of New York and opened its own rabbinical school.
issue which the Jewish community must confront today is the corruption of our
organizations into power bases for ambitious “executives” who place their
own income and Napoleon complex ahead of the needs of the Jewish people.
Therefore we must abolish the custom of appointing any executive for more than
five years. Let us take a lesson from our American constitution. Give democracy
a chance in Jewish life and abolish the pernicious practices which lead to
personal rivalries and in-fighting. Read the book by Freedman, Jew vs. Jew,
and insist that your money not be spent on wasteful ambition but on the needs of
the Jewish community. Good words are not enough. Good examples are needed. Bonis
exemplis, magis impetramus, cum bonis verbis.