Students on ADL trip in Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy ADL)
Over the past 100 years the Anti- Defamation League was most likely to be active
“in the newspapers and in court,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher told The Jerusalem Post
“Today we are more likely to be in schools and training
Speaking with the Post on the occasion of the 100th
anniversary of the ADL’s founding, the organization’s national chairman
expressed his belief that as America has evolved over the decades, so has the
role of his organization.
How America deals with anti-Semitism, bigotry
and hatred of all sorts has changed dramatically, he said.
years ago we were focused solely on America,” but today – while the United
States remains “our biggest use of resources by far” – the rest of the Jewish
world has become an area of concern as well.
While at the time of the
ADL’s founding in 1913 Jews were still discriminated against in housing and
university admissions, today anti-Semitism is on the decline, according to a
recently released ADL survey.
Twelve percent of Americans harbor deeply
anti-Semitic attitudes, according to the poll, a decline of 3 percentage points
from the last time the ADL took such a poll, in 2011, but approximately the same
number as in an ADL poll in 2009.
According to Curtiss-Lusher, rising
levels of education have helped contribute to this decline.
the degree of education, the lower the degree of anti-Semitism,” he said. “We
know the greatest use of our resources is in education.”
working with children, he continued, “everybody who goes through the FBI
curriculum to be an agent takes a course we put on with the Holocaust museum.
Teaching about extremism and hate crimes to law enforcement is a big deal to us
[and] I think that this will continue.”
As a corollary of his assertion
regarding the correlation of education and tolerance, Curtiss-Lusher said that
some of the highest levels of anti-Semitism can be seen among first generation
immigrants who have not yet acculturated and Americanized.
continuing to [build] new relationships with Latino and Hispanic communities.
It’s a growing force in America. They have a higher incidence of anti-Semitism
than the general population. Now, when we analyze that, it’s the more
recent immigrants with less education who have much higher rates,” he
Among the initiatives that the ADL has focused on in recent years
has been bringing journalists and community leaders from the Hispanic community
to Israel, he said, noting that such programs will most likely accelerate in
their frequency, due to their success in building bridges between
However, he continued, one of the most important focuses of
the ADL as it enters its second century is the vast international forum that is
“Hate on the Internet is a new and growing problem,” he
explained. “It transcends national borders, states. It’s everywhere. It
accelerates and amplifies the hatred that’s there.”
believed the way to battle hate speech is good speech and exposure. We
don’t try to censor it. We don’t think driving it underground is the best way to
The ADL, Curtiss-Lusher said, has built solid relationships
with social networking and search giants such as Facebook and Google and is
working to monitor and combat hate online.
“We just did a series of civil
rights symposiums in the US. One was at the Facebook headquarters,” he
said.JTA contributed to this report.