ADL loses its direction

By Don Feder

Abraham Foxman has gone from nuisance to embarrassment to self-parody.

The national leader of the Anti-Defamation League has declared war on conservative Christians. In doing so, he’s not only attacking the best friends Israel and the Jewish people have, he’s also repudiating Torah-based morality.

At a New York meeting of the ADL’s national leadership recently, Foxman experienced a near total meltdown. Groups like Focus on The Family and American Family Association are leading a full-scale assault on tolerance and diversity, Foxman foamed.

As reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Foxman declared: “Today we face a better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before. Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America. To save us!”

Foxman went on to explain that the ominous agenda of the Christianizers includes working to confirm conservative judicial nominees, restricting abortion and stopping gay marriage.

“They intend to Christianize all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to the libraries, to the movies, to recording studios, to the playing fields and locker rooms of professional, collegiate and amateur sports; from the military to SpongeBob SquarePants,” the ADL chief warned. Is Sponge Pants Jewish? Has he been slated for forced baptism?

Perhaps Foxman could turn his conspiracy theory into a documentary for cable television — “Christians Gone Wild.”

And how, exactly, are James Dobson, Don Wildmon and their colleagues going to accomplish their Christianizing mission?

Is keeping “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance Christianizing America? Is maintaining the traditional definition of marriage (you know, the one found in that Jewish book, Genesis) Christianizing America? Is public display of The Ten Commandments Christianizing America? In Hebrew school, they forgot to tell me that Moses was a Christianizer.

For the most part, conservative Christians are defending the status quo. Except in Massachusetts, where radical change was mandated by the judiciary, marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the norm. Foxman is arguing that self-defense, by the likes of the Alliance Defense Fund and Arlington Group, constitutes a proselytizing campaign.

Thus, according to Foxman, whenever the left tries to force a supremely dumb and dangerous social experiment on the nation, and Christian conservatives resist, the latter are engaged in a holy war designed to save or suppress the infidels.

Regarding so-called church-state issues, here religious conservatives do indeed want to turn back the clock — to an era before the federal courts began reading their secularist dogma into the First Amendment, to a time when “establishment of religion” meant just that — no national church — as opposed to today, when (according to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court) it means an acknowledgement of the God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Imagine the chutzpah of those notorious Christianizers — Jefferson and Adams — making God the focal point of The Declaration of Independence. (“That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights… . That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.”) For the Founding Fathers (those Christian zealots), God was the basis for self-government.

Foxman is furious because he detests the political agenda of Christian conservatives, and sees them making headway. That is his right — just as it’s the right of Dobson and company to do what their opponents on the left (the ACLU, People for the American Way,, etc) are doing to the best of their ability — using the political process to advance their cause.

This is neither sinister, conspiratorial nor coercive. It’s called democracy.

The last time Foxman lost it was when Reverend Jerry Falwell distributed bumper stickers that proclaimed: “I Vote Christian.” (“Directly at odds with the American ideal, and should be rejected,” the ADL-ayatollah fumed.)

The poster boy for militant secularism never explained why it’s legitimate for environmentalists to vote for environmental issues, for feminists to try to legislate the values of feminism, for Democrats to be guided by redistributionism, but ominous and intimidating for Christians to base their political choices on Christian values.

If there is a crusade here, it’s Foxman and friends who are unfurling the banners. The ADL has been transformed from an organization working to combat anti-Semitism to just another leftist group bent on severing America from its religious roots.

For instance, in June, the ADL National Director wrote to the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy demanding an end to the practice of grace being offered before midshipmen take their lunch.

These are voluntary prayers, led on a rotating basis by one of the academy’s Protestant, Catholic or Jewish chaplains. (Foxman called the invocations “coercive” and a violation of church-state separation.) If resistance to this demand reflects a desire to Christianize America, put me down as a Christianizer.

Where does Foxman think these Christianizers got their morality from anyway — “The 700 Club,” Dobson’s daily broadcasts or the curriculum of Liberty University?

What’s called Judeo-Christian morality comes from the Jewish Bible, as transmitted to the West by Christianity. It’s the Torah that says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.” The Torah tells us God commanded man to leave his father and his mother and “cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” (Anita Bryant used to famously quip that “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”)

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the world’s largest Hasidic group, once expressed his support for a nondenominational school prayer by rhetorically asking what harm it did for students to begin the school day by affirming the existence of One to whom they are answerable?

The Alliance for Marriage, a group pushing a Federal Marriage Amendment, numbers among its advisors Rabbi Yoels Schonfeld of the Queens Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition and Barry Freundel, rabbi of Kesher Israel, the most prominent Orthodox synagogue in our nation’s capital.

On its website, Agudath Israel, lobbying arm of yeshiva Orthodoxy, reports that it “has urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its holdings in Roe v. Wade, and supports legislation that restricts abortion on demand.” Agudath takes its marching orders not from Colorado Springs (headquarters of Focus on The Family) but from Sinai.

While there are plenty of organizations with the word Jewish in their titles on the other side, as commentator and Jewish scholar Dennis Prager notes, the more a Jew understands Jewish law and is committed to Torah values, the more apt he is to support social conservative positions. In other words, the more likely he is to find himself politically aligned with those Foxman calls Christianizers. Perhaps one should speak of Judeo-Christianizers.

While synagogues are attacked by Muslim rioters in France and Jewish students are harassed and assaulted on our college campuses, while Israel is slandered by vocal leftists like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan (who says the Iraq War was a Neo-Con conspiracy to aid Israel), Abe Foxman has located the real threat to Jews in a group of church ladies who want to erect a Nativity scene in the public park at Christmas.

There’s no nation on earth where Jews have been more welcomed — no nation that has made a greater contribution to the survival of the Jewish people — than America.

It’s no coincidence that America is also the only nation since ancient Israel specifically founded on a Biblical worldview. Does Foxman imagine that Jews will be safer in a secular America (one cut off from its spiritual roots)? Are the Jews of Europe safer on a continent that can’t even acknowledge its Christian heritage?

Would Foxman feel safer walking the streets of Biloxi, Mississippi or one of those towns around Paris illuminated by the glow of burning Citroens?

[Comment: As a religious Jew I think that Abraham Foxman and the ADL have lost direction. They want a secular U.S., similar to the ACLU. The ADL should be supporting Christianity in the U.S. There are no stronger supporters of Judaism or Israel than Christians in this country. Gary Aminoff]