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July 17, 2015 4:58 pm

Why Anti-Semitic Statements by Celebrities Matter

avatar by Abraham Foxman

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Jarryd Hayne tweeted about how the Jews were culpable for Jesus death. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Jarryd Hayne tweeted about how the Jews were culpable for Jesus death. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Here at the Anti-Defamation League, we get it all the time. Most recently when we criticized Jarryd Hayne, a former Australian rugby star and now a running back on the San Francisco 49ers, for revisiting the ancient charge blaming Jews for the death of Christ.

Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted, “Maybe not the best use of ADL’s time?”

With all that is going on in the world of a serious nature, some say, is that what ADL should be focusing on? Let’s be clear: We deal everyday with the larger issues. On the very day that the Jarryd Hayne matter surfaced, we issued a strong statement about the Iran nuclear arrangement.

Still, the critics are missing the point. The analogy I would draw is to the approach taken by New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton when he assumed the position for the first time in 1993.

The year before, there had been over 2,000 murders in New York City. All kinds of solutions for this huge problem had been suggested and tried without success.

Bratton took a counter-intuitive approach: Focus first not on the big crimes but on the everyday petty ones, like graffiti and broken windows. People chuckled at this bizarre approach, but it worked. The murder rate went into a precipitous decline, eventually totaling 333 in 2014.

Bratton’s logic: The climate of tolerance for crime reflected in the small stuff opened the way for the truly horrendous acts. Clean up the climate and you will clean up crime.

This is a lesson that ADL learned many decades ago in its struggle against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred. When public figures, whether politicians,entertainersathletes or others say hateful things and they go unanswered that helps create a climate receptive to broader hate and even violence. Therefore, standing up every time public figures express hate, rather than being inconsequential, is, in fact, among the more important things one can do to make this a better society.

When I get asked about some of the major contributions that ADL has made to America over the past century, I often focus on this point. We have not rid this country of hate, obviously. But we have made it unacceptable for public figures to engage in hateful speech without a strong reaction from the public and different sectors of society. This has reduced the level of hateful public speech and made for a healthier society.

I, of course, recognize that there are opposite trends at work because of the internet and social media. The challenge of dealing with hate speech through these media is profound, one that we and others work on every day.

Still, the basic concept of standing up against hate speech as a social good remains as important as ever. It rests on the idea that leadership matters — that setting an example for others to emulate is a good thing.

It reflects a belief in the fundamental goodness of the American people. Provide them the information, show them that hateful comments hurt large groups of people, and they will respond.

Along these lines, I often say that the single most important initiative ADL took in its long history was the Anti-Mask law that was passed in Georgia in 1950. This was a time when the KKK was rampant and creating havoc. The Klan’s right to march was protected by the First Amendment. The law we proposed, which was enacted, said they couldn’t march anonymously, their faces hidden by those menacing hoods.

Once they no longer were incognito, they lost their powerful aura. People recognized their neighbors. The mystery of the Klan — a key to their power — had been eviscerated. The Klan’s decline began.

The lesson for us was profound. Bring issues of hate to public attention, reveal the haters and stand up against hate wherever it appears.

Nothing petty about that.

This article was originally published by The Huffington Post. 

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  • DocReality

    You know what else matters? Having a leader at the ADL with an actual backbone. Foxman is an appeaser and the ADL capitulates to this traitor-fraud of a president. Disgraceful.

  • Arie

    Interesting that Foxman would decry Jew hate by others, yet has spent the last 10 yrs at the ADL covering it up to protect his Democrat Party overlords and the last 6 in fealty to Obama. Foxman went even further by pushing an Obama adviser, one known for his attacks on the Jewish State to be his legacy.

    And who can overlook Foxman’s comments declaring that the spike in violent attacks on Jews in the US since 2009 (the Obama era) are “nothing more then urban legend.” And oh yes, his and the new ADL Director’s TOTAL support of the surrender to Iran,with an Obama goal of nurturing new crematoriums

  • To help combat both anti-Semitism and Anti-Jewish-Racism, please visit these web sites:

  • Robert Ostrove

    When the 49ers cut Hayne he’ll probably blame the Jews for that, too.

  • Jeremy Zeid

    And in parallel to this a prime reason to ban the burkha and jilbab that are nothing to do with modesty and everything to do with hiding faces from public view just like the white supremacists. Likewise face masks, scarves etc during “demonstrations”.

  • Artie Van Derham

    Algemeiner just lost a couple of notches to me. Printing an article by the wicked ADL. They are not Bratton, antisemitism went up dramatically under their watch, and they killed every Jewish prophet and holy person of the past 50 years. ADL needs to step aside, we need new organizations, but wicked ADL hogs all the all the money, and credibility.

    Citing leftist achievements, but the left has switched it all against the Jews, like Catholic debates where they would use a previous incarnation of Naomi Klein to justify killing the Jews. The fact that they evil ADL could not see that so obvious a freight train coming shows that they are either perfectly evil or a perfectly dumb group culture or just greedy. Antisemites have only switched things on every single other occasion for the past 2400 years.

    ADL is at least as bad as antisemitism itself if not worse.

    There are over 100 countries which have full or partial boycotts of 500,000 Jews or more during the whole period of the rich ADL, again the ADL has killed every Jewish ‘prophet” and IS the problem.

    Clinton and all the Democrats were always justifying Islamic terrorism as much as Republicans and Mccarthyism.

  • Fred

    It is unfortunate people who show abysmal ignorance of history & facts are set up as spoke-person for subjects they would not have the slightest idea they talk about.
    Jarred must have “excelled “in history & religion making fiction into “fact “. How to succeed without trying.

  • Ephraim

    Let us not forget the Oriole’s hater, whose hate speech is hushed up by MLB.

  • Simone Miller

    Perhaps he was a friend of that actor from down under Harrison Ford. No longer will watch any of his movies.