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April 23, 2013 2:22 am

Why Abe Foxman Was Wrong on Islamic Attack on the Boston Marathon

avatar by Moshe Phillips

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ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. Photo: Algemeiner.

Abe Foxman, the ADL’s longtime National Director, seemed to want to do everything possible to direct attention away from the possibility that the Boston Marathon attack was the work of Islamic terrorists when he issued his April 15 statement on the attacks.

Foxman stated:

“This apparent terrorist attack comes during a week when we are already on heightened alert because of the history of extremist-related events that have taken place during the week of April 20th, including the Oklahoma City bombing and the federal raid of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas. While we do not yet know who was responsible for the attack … the investigation should look into whether whoever carried out the attack was motivated by extremist views.”

The ADL media release went on to mention the fact that Adolf Hitler’s birthday was April 20th and did not once use the words Arab, Palestinian, Islam, Islamic or Muslim.

With the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were responsible for the attack Foxman has yet once again proved that he has long outlasted his effectiveness as ADL’s leader.

Another memorable time when Foxman issued a press release he should not have was when he attacked Rush Limbaugh on January 21, 2010 and made the ridiculous charge that Rush made “borderline anti-Semitic comments” on his radio show.

There are times that you just have to kind of wonder if the last vestige of clear thinking Jews in America is to be found on talk radio. There are amazing Jewish talk radio show hosts now on the air. And Rush Limbaugh richly deserves much of the credit for that. Rush not just reinvigorated the talk show format and dynamically brought talk to the frontlines of American political debate but he has always been decisively and passionately pro-Israel. He has also been an extremely generous and nurturing professional and gave Michael Medved his first national radio host experience as a guest host on The Rush Limbaugh Show.

One of the most remarkable responses by an American Jew to the excesses of the ADL came from another Jewish guest host, Boston’s late Dean Barrett, and in the wake of the Boston Marathon attack it seems highly appropriate to recall him and his words.

Boston area attorney Dean Barnett tragically passed away in October 2008 from cystic fibrosis when hew was only 41 years old. Barnett guest hosted for California based Salem Radio Network host Hugh Hewitt on April 30, 2008. Let’s recall the point he made during the conversation he had with an African-American caller:

The caller explained that Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other so called leaders of the African American do not speak for him and that no one elected these leaders. Barnett responded to the caller by stating something to the effect that he sympathized with the caller and understood completely. Barnett said that, as a Jew, he often feels the same exact way when he sees the partisan statements of the Anti-Defamation League.

There, someone had finally said what so desperately needed to be said about the American Jewish community: The ADL does not speak in our name. Abraham Foxman does not speak in our name. The Abe Foxman and the ADL has offended Christians and Jews time and again by attacking the Evangelical Christian community and others on the political right. Abraham Foxman has won no elections in the U.S. Jewish community.

Thankfully, Dean Barnett’s voice was not an anomaly on talk radio. As a young, pro-Israel activist in Philadelphia in the 1980s, I was profoundly influenced by a local talk show host named Irv Homer (who died in June 2009 at the age of 86) and the pro-Israel guests he featured. The pro-Israel, pro-American and clear thinking tradition of Jewish talk show hosts began when talk radio was in its infancy by Irv Homer and New York based Barry Farber was continued by Dean Barnett and others in our era.

If you want to know what grass roots Jews are thinking about the international Islamic terror, Israel issues, U.S. politics and more, please don’t look to Foxman and the other self-appointed leaders of the Jewish Establishment. Look to Jewish hosts on talk radio.

Jews such as Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Jeff Katz (formerly of Philadelphia), Chuck Morse (Boston), Michael Savage, Matt Drudge, Zev Brenner, Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, Howard Riell, Gary R’nel, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Rabbi Tovia Singer, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and Rabbi Shmuely Boteach all have shows that are well worth listing to.

Other right thinking Jews combine writing and the talk show game.’s Aaron Klein (a former Philadelphian now based in Israel) began to host his own talk show on WABC in January 2010 and has become very popular.

Seth Leibsohn was part of the Bill Bennett show for years and is one of the most intelligent Jews on talk radio today. Seth not only made the show highly enjoyable, he was one of Israel’s most articulate defenders on the air.  He now hosts “Arizona Politics & Culture with Seth Leibsohn and Tom Brown” on Salem Broadcasting’s 960 “The Patriot” in Phoenix, Arizona. Seth attended the School of Law at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2011 Leibsohn and Bennett published the book The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam and as the title so clearly indicates Foxman should have known better when he wrote his press release.

An article mentioning Jewish political commentators from Boston would not be complete without remembering former Boston Herald writer Don Feder. Don is Jewish and he is truly the dean of politically conservative Jewish pundits. He supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and created the Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit in May 2003. Don later headed a group called Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation and it responded to the ADL’s tirades against Evangelicals more often and more effectively than anyone else in the past decade. At The Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby continues to impress and inspire as well.

Alan Keyes participated in Feder’s Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit. No one elected Foxman to speak for all American Jews. No one appointed the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to speak for all African Americans. African-Americans have their conservative, Pro-Israel pundits too: Dr. Thomas Sowell, Alan Keyes, Walter Williams (another Philadelphian) and Larry Elder all come to mind.

Clear thinking American Jews need step out of the shadows and support those individuals and grassroots organizations that advocate a strong America and a secure Israel. In the wake of the Patriot Day attacks in Boston there has never been a better time to get involved than now, or a more important time.

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  • Michelle M

    Actually, you’re completely off the mark. Foxman has acted as an apologist for Glenn Beck and even Rupert Murdoch (“Great friends of Israel”).

    The date of the Boston terrorist attack at first gave every indication that it was the work of a homegrown extremist. As for Limbaugh, any adult with more than, say, a third0grade education shouldn’t admit to listening to the guy. He has no connection to reality, though he does tell his sheep what they want to hear.

  • In 1999, Abe Foxman declared war on me because I opposed Georgia’s hate crimes law — on the grounds that, as a crime victims’ advocate, I saw the legislation as creating a troubling hierarchy of victims based on identity politics, and also because I had already witnessed nascent efforts in the states to craft a certain picture of hate crimes prevalence by quietly excluding the most common victims of their definitions of “hate,” such as heterosexual victims of serial rapists, from enforcement. This latter concern about quietly selective enforcement in the interest of controlling the statistics has been borne out unambiguously since the implementation of these laws.

    I was informed via phone by the then SE Regional Director of the ADL that I was now an “enemy of the ADL,” and that was something I did not wish to be. A few months later, it came to my attention that I had been placed on some sort of “bias” list being circulated among subcontractors to the Department of Justice. The IACP’s Chuck Wexler told me this when I called him while conducting dissertation research on hate crimes enforcement protocols for prosecutors and police. Then Wexler hung up on me. Neither he nor his board would elaborate on this accusation — quite shamefully. The DOJ did not reply to my queries.

    Just today, a well-known conservative publication in which I’ve been published in the past rejected an article I wrote about the Boston defendant and the possibility of charging him with anti-nationality hate crime charges. The reason cited for the rejection? I mentioned the ADL’s role (along with several other organizations) in creating the subjective enforcement of hate crime laws. Perhaps I could choose some group other than the ADL, the editor suggested, in order to avoid “intellectual vertigo.”

    This sort of fear will only embolden those who wield political correctness as a weapon and a threat, as Foxman does. He has destroyed a lot of decent people over the years — and in my experience, he goes after those too politically marginal to defend themselves while avoiding confrontations with people who possess real political power. The Limbaugh statement is just running off at the mouth — people like me are attacked in more serious ways from the shadows.

    I have no way of proving my loyalty to Israel or the Jewish community, except to say it is so. I only wish that others with a larger soapbox would stand up to this sort of behavior. It damaged my political career and personal life in ways that can never be repaired. And I can only hope that the editor of that conservative journal comes to realize that he has misapprehended the ADL’s intentions and priorities. Aaron Klein and Michael Savage have it right.

    I’ll sign my name here. I always do. And if Mr. Foxman wishes to start his vendetta against me again, bring it on. I have far less to lose this time, thanks to all that was taken away from me the last time I took on the issue of hate crime laws in a public arena. If I had the resources to sue the last time, I would have done so. Nobody should be awakened from sleep with a phone call threatening them with consequences for making an “enemy of the ADL” over an editorial (in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, for goodness sake) disagreeing with them over a piece of legislation. Their behavior needs to be exposed to the light of day.

    Tina Trent

  • fyi. rabbidr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Fascinating! The media keeps quoting the Sura which paraphrases the mishna in Sanhedrin about the value of human life. This video shows that the Sura is a directive to the Jews and that the Sura validates/implies that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews.

    The video then goes on to the next verse which is a directive to the Muslims advocating
    death and mutilation to those who disagree with Islam.

    Not being familiar with the Koran, it was an eye opener not only seeing the first verse in context, but seeing the verse which follows it advocating terrorist behaviors.

  • Anonymous

    The reason Foxman said what he did is because he is a liberal first.

  • Liberal Jews like Foxman who bow and scrape to our Jewish enemies are the reason why I have stopped supporting many Jewish Organizations. Accommodation and compromising with the forces of anti-American and anti-Semitic Evil are not worthy tactics for any Jewish leader to be engaged in. The days of Jewish submissiveness died with the Holocaust and Jewish Leaders need to either stand up with strength or sit down and step aside. Their feeble efforts endanger us all during these turbulent and dangerous days of Islamic extremism and violence.

  • Hershel Barg

    An interesting article. I have listened to several of the talk shows mentioned. But as often as I have listened I don’t recall any mention of the plight of Jonathan Pollard. I believe his name should be brought up time and again. Pollard’s lifetime incarceration is a blight on the Republican Party. While conservatives decry the preference of Jewish voters for the Democrats, the Republicans are passing up a major opportunity to establish credibility with this voting bloc by their failure to advocate for the release of Jonathan Pollard. A Republican administration was responsible for the plight of Pollard, it’s the Republican Party that should seek to make amends.