By Shelley Rose | Anti-Defamation League
The work of the Anti-Defamation League has never been more important. Between the increase in global anti-Semitism, challenges in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic extremism and the ensuing anti-Muslim bigotry, and the incivility in the current election cycle, we at ADL have our work cut out for us.
The challenges we face as a Jewish people in the world remain as potent as ever.
Anti-Semitism continues to spread in Europe as the Jews of France and other countries worry about their future. This year ADL announced a partnership with the European Jewish Congress, the representative body of Europe’s Jewish communities, to maximize ADL’s impact through cooperation on cyberhate, advocacy, boycott, divestment and sanctions, and other areas.
Here at home, anti-Semitic incidents on campuses increased during the past year, while BDS campaigns spread to new campuses.
At the same time, ADL welcomed its dynamic new CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, who began his tenure at ADL the day after Abraham H. Foxman’s retirement. Mr. Greenblatt recommitted the agency to our 103-year-old dual mission to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all.”
ADL is still staying true to itself, whether in leading the fight against anti-Semitism, in supporting a besieged state of Israel or in serving as a partner in the struggle for equal rights for minorities in this country.
The horrific murders in Charleston, S.C., were a wake-up call: In spite of all the progress we have made as a country, racism and hate crimes persist. ADL was acutely aware that the shooting took place in one of the five states that do not have hate crime laws. That’s why on the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank — a Jewish man from Georgia, which still has no hate crime law — ADL last year announced a bold new initiative.
CEO Greenblatt stood with noted civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta) to announce the initiative together. The coalition for 50 States Against Hate: An Initiative for Stronger Hate Crime Laws (#50StatesAgainstHate) is mobilizing to pass hate crime laws in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming and to strengthen laws in states that fail to protect victims targeted for sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity.
No one is better positioned to get it done: ADL created the first model statute for a state hate crime law — 45 states and the District of Columbia have laws based on or similar to it — and led the coalition that passed the most important federal hate crime enforcement law in 2009.
In a world where bigotry and extremism are flourishing, ADL is more important than ever. Every day, ADL policies and programs help us get back to our nobler vision as a country. To fight global anti-Semitism and advocate for Israel, we work with government leaders all over the world. To counter cyberhate, we partner with the leading tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft.
Our acclaimed No Place for Hate initiative curbed bias and bullying and promoted respectful behavior in 1.6 million students last year alone. In the past year we trained 14,000 law enforcement professionals to combat hate crimes, counter terrorism and extremism, and understand their pivotal role in protecting individual rights.
Our values drive other ADL efforts as well: removing obstacles to voting; securing fair treatment for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; and ensuring religious freedom for all.
As the new year approaches, it is our wish that this work affects generation after generation, promises a bright future, and moves ADL forward to the day we can say that we live in a world without hate.