Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Abe Foxman Defames Kofi Annan: will he apologize?

Abe, it's time to apologize to Kofi Annan or resign from your job.

Abe Foxman is National Director and chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. He started working for the Anti-Defamation League 1965. He was promoted to National Director in 1987.

The mission of the ADL is:

The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.

This is a very noble mission and the ADL has over the years indeed helped to secure justice and fair treatment for some citizens. But lately Abe Foxman has become an incredibly obnoxious cheerleader for the State of Israel (by which I mean those executing the policies of the repulsive former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and his pathological Likud party).

Ok, fine. This is America. Freedom of speech and all that. Fine. Then let him spout his self-absorbed nonsense. But, particularly given the name of his organization, you'd think he would at least take care not to defame people.

Defamation is the "...publication of a false statement of fact, made with the requisite state of mind, that causes injury." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#_note-0)

On August 8, I read the following article on Ha'aretz, a popular Israeli daily that is also published in English.

ADL blasts Annan as 'blatantly one-sided' and 'anti-Israel'
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent

NEW YORK - The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham Foxman, accused United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday of demonstrating "blatant one-sidedness" in his comments about Israel's war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"I am stunned that the UN secretary general cannot find his tongue except to criticize and denounce Israel, and is unable to raise his voice to denounce Hezbollah's daily firing of hundreds of rockets that are specifically intended to hurt civilians," Foxman said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Haaretz.

"In addition, [Annan] has not bothered to mention the loss of life in Israel as a result of the rocket attacks," Foxman continued. "When will the UN secretary general begin to give Jewish lives the same respect he extends to other human beings," the ADL head asked.
===========END ARTICLE

I was at first shocked to see the ADL describe Kofi Annan as "anti-Israel." That is a very serious charge to level at the Secretary General of the United Nations. Then I read what Foxman said and found myself wondering...it certainly would be shocking and disgraceful for Annan to never mention that Israelis have died from rocket attacks, never denounce Hezbollah's those same attacks on Israeli towns and cities. That sure would be one-sided and, at a minimum, thoroughly lacking in compassion for Israelis.

You really would have to question Annan's objectivity, his fitness for the position he holds today.

Surely Foxman or someone at ADL had carefully gone over all of Annan's public pronouncement to make sure Fox's claims were accurate; namely, that Annan had "not bothered to mention the loss of life in Israel as a result of the rocket attacks."

But why assume that? Why not check for myself? So here it is, 1:10AM in the morning. I need to sleep. I am overwhelmed by work. But I find myself visiting www.un.org and reviewing Annan's personal statements. This is what I found (and fortunately very quickly as well):

July 30
"Meanwhile, over 50 Israelis have died, including 19 civilians, and the population of northern Israel has been subjected to intense and continuous rocket fire, and thousands are now in shelters. "

July 26
"First and most urgent, we need an immediate cessation of the hostilities that began on 12 July with Hizbollah's reckless attack across the Blue Line and the abduction of two Israeli soldiers.

"We need a cessation of hostilities because we face a grave humanitarian crisis. The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, has just visited Lebanon, and reports that some 800,000 people are being affected in one way or another, whether through displacement, injury, trauma or other fallout. Meanwhile, rockets continue to fall on Israeli cities, taking lives and instilling deep fear among hundreds of thousands of people. Some 400 Lebanese have been killed, and many thousands wounded. Several dozen Israelis have been killed, and hundreds wounded.
Therefore, I call on Hizbollah to stop its deliberate targeting of Israeli population centres.

"And I call on Israel to end its bombardments, blockades and ground operations."


I imagine there are other, similar comments in press releases, comments to the media, and so on. It seems pretty clear to me that Annan did, indeed, mention all the things that Foxman claims Annan did not. From the brief review I performed, it also seemed rather clear that Annan was very consistent in condemning all violations of international law, and in particular the use of violence against civilians.

It just so happens that the Israel Defense Forces are inflicting orders of magnitude more violence against Lebanese and Palestinians than Hezbollah and Hamas are inflicting on Israelis.

As a result, there are many more deaths to condemn, much more destruction of civilian infrastructure, vastly more refugees and a full-blown humanitarian crisis -- all the direct result of Israel's attack on Lebanon. Whether you consider this attack justified or not, there is no doubt about whose bombs are doing what, and to whom.

The conclusion should be patently clear to all:

Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League have defamed Kofi Annan and the United Nations. He should immediately offer an apology (I am sure he can find some intern assigned to do the research to take the fall) or he should resign from his position in the ADL.

1 comment:

Tony Hale said...

Cheers on this posting. I second your call, very belatedly. But the larger issue is also that Annan has been subjected to "defamation" from many sides throughout the past several years of his tenure. The U.S. has been particularly guilty in this regard, primarily, I would contend, because of Annan's now prescient opposition to near-unilateral action in Iraq. Considering Annan's accomplishments and strengths, I hope that these concerted efforts to shrink his stature will not obscure his reputation in the eyes of history.