Anti-Defamation League

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The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) was founded in 1913 by B'nai B'rith International and is currently the more well known of the two prominent Jewish organizations.[1] It has been ranked by Forbes as among the top 200 largest US charities in the US several years in a row.[2] For the fiscal year ending on 12/31/07, the ADL had a reported $US 62 million in revenue, with $337,690 going to the ADL's long-time leader, Abraham H. Foxman.[3] The ADL describes itself as "the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."[4] While it started out investigating anti-Semitism and targetting far right groups, in its later years, particularly from the 1980s, it infiltrated and spied on left and civil rights groups including critics of both Israel and the Apartheid regime in South Africa. In July 2010 it drew sharp condemnation after joining a rightwing campaign against the construction of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.[5][6][7][8]

ADL Spying case

Robert Friedman wrote in 1993:

The ADL was established in New York City in 1913 to defend Jews, and later other minority groups, from discrimination. It led the fight against racist and fascist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, and in the 1960s championed the civil rights movement.
But there was also a darker side. In the late 1940s, the ADL spied on leftists and Communists, and shared investigative files with the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI. The ADL swung sharply to the right during the Reagan administration, becoming a bastion of neoconservatism. To Irwin Suall, a repentant Trotskyite who heads the ADL's powerful Fact Finding Department, the real danger to Jews is posed not by the right -- but by a coalition of leftists, blacks, and Arabs, who in his view threaten the fabric of democracy in America, as well as the state of Israel. In the tradition of his ideological soulmate William Casey, Suall directed the ADL's vast network of informants, who were given code names like "Scumbag," "Ironside," and -- for a spy reportedly posing as a priest in Atlanta -- "Flipper."[9]

'In 1993', write Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier and Steve Zeltzer, 'the District of Attorney of San Francisco released 700 pages of documents implicating the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that claims to be a defender of civil rights, in a vast spying operation directed against American citizens who were opposed to Israel's policies in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza and to the apartheid policies of the government of South Africa and passing on information to both governments.'[10]

ADL orientation

In the 1980s, as for many previous decades, the ADL was involved in spying on left and human rights groups. According to Robert Friedman, writing in the Village Voice:

In the early 1980s, researchers Russ Bellant and Berlet asked to meet fact finding head Irwin Suall, to discuss their work on anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche. "Our view then of Irwin Suall was that he was this really terrific investigator," says Berlet. "So we introduce ourselves, say what we are up to and Suall leans back in his chair and basically runs down a dossier on each of us: about what our political activities are, who we work with, what organizations we belong to. Obviously, he was just trying to blow us away and he succeeds admirably. We were just sitting there with our mouths open feeling very uncomfortable."
"And then he leans forward and says, 'The right-wing isn't the problem. The left-wing is the problem. The Soviet Union is the biggest problem in the world for Jews. It's the American left that is the biggest threat to American Jews. You're on the wrong track. You're part of the problem.' We were stunned. I was virtually in tears. This is not how I perceived myself. We basically stumbled out of there in a daze."[11]




Roy Bullock | Laura Kam, worked for ADL for 17 years as Press Officer and ran the Jerusalem office | Tom Gerard, SFPD Officer | Irwin Suall, head of Fact-Finding Dept, 1993 |


Resources and Notes

Powerbase resources

External resources



  1. 1.0 1.1 Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, "The Changing Role of B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 1993
  2. Forbes, "The 200 Largest U.S. Charities", Forbes, accessed on 10 December 2010
  3. Forbes, "Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith", Forbes, 24 November 2009
  4. ADL Website, accessed 12 march 2009 See Also ADL History.
  5. Philip Weiss, ‘ADL’ statement rationalizing bigotry draws wide scorn,, 30 July 2010
  6. Jim Lobe, Foxman Really Outdoes Himself on Mosque Issue,, 30 July 2010
  7. Ali Gharib, ADL and Downtown Islamic Center: What about the Pentagon?,, 31 July 2010
  8. Philip Weiss, Foxman plays Holocaust card,, 31 July 2010
  9. Robert I. Friedman, The Enemy Within, The Village Voice, 11 May 1993, Vol. XXXVIII No. 19. Village Voice synopsis: How The Anti-Defamation League Turned the Notion of Human Rights on Its Head, Spying on Progressives and Funneling Information to Law Enforcement.
  10. Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier and Steve Zeltzer, The ADL Spying Case Is Over, But The Struggle Continues, Counterpunch, 25 February 2002.
  11. Robert I. Friedman, The Enemy Within, The Village Voice, 11 May 1993, Vol. XXXVIII No. 19. Village Voice synopsis: How The Anti-Defamation League Turned the Notion of Human Rights on Its Head, Spying on Progressives and Funneling Information to Law Enforcement.