Abe Foxman is Confusing Us by Being Sensible, Admirable, and Nuanced

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We've noted Abe Foxman -- the Anti-Defamation League's very public, very loud, very condemnation-happy public face -- as an "known racist" and egomaniacal asshole" here. We're not the only ones who aren't fans of his: one ADL award-winner, Fareed Zakaria, recently returned a $10,000, five year-old award to them after the ADL announced their opposite to Park 51, the Cordoba Center (or, for those of you right-wing psychos who hate read us -- Hello again! -- the "Ground Zero Mosque"). So why are we so confused with Foxman's recent, sensible stances?

Adam Sewer notes today on The Plum Line that Abe Foxman has -- after announcing opposition to Park 51/The Cordoba Center at the beginning of August -- denounced planned anti-mosque demonstrations on September 11th at Ground Zero and anti-Muslim "Ground Zero Mosque" ringleader Pamela Geller* as "un-American," which, if you didn't notice, is quite the nuanced view. Sewer spoke with Foxman, who noted of the planned rallies:

This is a place for memory, for families to be together, to memorialize their loved ones, [to have] a moment of reflection and introspection. For people with political agendas to use the place and the moment for their own interests and their own platforms is desecrating the memory and very sad. Especially if some of the families of the victims are asking, their view should be taken seriously and respected.

And of Geller and the Anti-Muslim sentiment:

The debate surrounding the Ground Zero mosque has surfaced, first, a campaign which is in many places directed against building mosques, and it also has focused attention on the anti-Muslim bigotry that exists in this country. It's not new. It has been there. Part of the landscape, unfortunately, of America is that we're not immune to bigotry, to racism, to anti-Semitism. And part of what's out there is a bigotry to immigrants. Jews experienced it, Irish experienced it. Part of our history is there was opposition to building Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues. Now there's opposition to build mosques, and there is, in our landscape, bigotry. Some of it is beneath the surface, and some of it in moments of crisis explodes. That's what we're seeing now.

Let's get one thing straight: Abraham Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League have a hard-line, right-wing Zionist base, many of whom want Israel to push back against any Palestinian efforts, period, and some who just want to see Islam wiped off the face of the earth (every religion has extremists, it happens). For him to turn around on his original stance -- which he hasn't completely: he still has yet to fully turn around on standing against Park 51 and New York's Muslim community being able to build wherever they'd like (see: the requirement of religious freedom and a lack of religious "defamation") -- but this is a big moment in and of itself. And if Foxman can turn around on this, we can do the same for him: It was a mensch thing to do, Abe. It's certainly a start. We'll take what we can get.

*"Who?" is an acceptable response; she's like Ann Coulter, but only in a three-block radius.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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