Jeffrey Blankfort
July 31, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was formed by B'nai B'rith in 1913
to be the leading Jewish defense agency in the wake of the conviction of Leo
Frank, an officer of the National Pencil Co. of Atlanta,Georgia,, for the
murder of 13 year old Mary Phagan, a shop floor worker at the pencil factory.
It was a verdict that many believed to be a miscarriage of justice, which
was compounded by Frank being kidnapped from prison two years later and
lynched, the only American Jew known to have suffered that fate.

By 1937, the Anti-Defamation League had embarked on another occupation,
keeping files and spying on what it considered to be communist or
pro-communist organizations and individuals. In that year, a 1947
Congressional hearing revealed, it had begun providing information on the
recently formed National Lawyers Guild and on individuals applying for
government jobs to the original House Committee on Un-American Activities
chaired by the notorious racist and anti-semite, Rep. Martin Dies, which
came to be referred to simply as the Dies Committee.

In the anti-communist witch hunts conducted at the beginning of the Cold
War, the ADL assisted and acted as a go-between for both the Congressional
and members or former members of the CPUSA who chose
to inform on their former comrades and friends, including, in at least one
instance, family members.

While the ADL’s public face was that of an organization determined to rid
the country of neo-Nazis and skinheads, its raison d’etre in the absence
of any serious threats of anti-semitism, was not defense of Jews, per se, but
defense of Israel and the intimidation and public humiliation of its critics.
While that invariably gained the ADL headlines, what was hidden from the
public was of equal importance. The ADL, by the late 1980s had begun
one of the largest private spying operations in the United States, a fact that
was discovered by the San Francisco police in 1992 when it raided the
ADL office after discovering that it had been working with a rogue SF cop,
Tom Gerard, who had been providing the organization with personal
non-public information about a host of American citizens, but, in particular,
those supporting the Palestinian cause and opposing South African

It turned out that this cop was partnering with a San Francisco weight lifter,
Roy Bullock, who had infiltrated the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
and a number of other organizations and had in his files the
names of over 10,000 individuals and over 600 organizations, most of which
were kept in what Bullock labeled as Pinko files. Bullock and Gerard
were also being paid by South African intelligence officials to provide them
with the same information on anti-apartheid activism that they had been
collecting for the ADL.

Bullock had been identified as the ADL’s “main fact finder” by the late
Irwin Suall, who headed the group’s intelligence apparatus, but depositions
taken at the time revealed there were similar spying operations being
conducted by the ADL across the United States. Despite the ADL having
promised to cease trying to illegally obtain information on its enemies at the
time in exchange for not being prosecuted, there is no evidence that it
has. Rather it has strengthened its ties with police across the country through
its LEARN program (Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network) in
which it trains police in dealing with “extremist groups” and “hate crimes.”

The ADL has become identified with the antics and pronouncements of its
long-time national director, Abe Foxman, who has made a name for himself
by taking on anyone he considers guilty of anti-Semitism, which means
criticizing Israel or the abuse of Jewish power. In the past this has included
Marlon Brando, Mel Gibson, and most recently Oliver Stone. Jews are
not immune, as Tony Judt found out in 2006 when Foxman interceded with
the Polish Consulate in New York to prevent the British Jewish writer
from giving a talk in the building’s meeting room on “The Israel Lobby and
US Foreign Policy.”

Now, Foxman is in the headlines once again, trying to prevent an Islamic
center, one that would be open to everyone, from being constructed adjacent
to the site of the World Trade Center bombing. This would appear to be a
clear violation of the mission statement of the organization, part of which
states that its “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.” For Foxman, apparently, that
mission no longer includes Muslims.

Jeffrey Blankfort is an American Jewish journalist, photographer and a
radio program producer and host with KZYX in Mendocino, California. He
has been a pro-Palestinian human rights activist since 1970 and has written
frequently on the subject. He was formerly the editor of the Middle East
Labor Bulletin
, a co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East and
a founding member of the Nov. 29 Coalition on Palestine. He won a lawsuit
against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in February 2002 for its vast
illegal spying against him, as well as other peaceful political groups and
individuals (including anti-Apartheid groups/activists). Email:
[email protected]