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June 02, 1989 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

CLOSE-UP

And Justice For All

The Anti-Defamation League is dedicated
to fighting prejudice on all fronts. For ADL
employees and volunteers, working with
hatred and fear is part of the territory.

office, which is now one of 31 regional
offices in the United States. It has
Special to the Jewish News
European offices in Paris and Rome,
n a cold Saturday evening one in Israel and affiliated offices in
last November, a young Latin America and Canada.
The national office, head-
Orthodox Jew walked out
quartered in New York, is divided in-
of his synagogue. His
prayer book in hand, he to many different divisions:
• The Civil Rights division is
was hurrying home to a hot supper
ADL's front line in confronting
awaiting him.
threats to the security of the Jewish
"Hey, Jewboy! Heil Hitler!" came community.
a voice from a passing car filled with
• The Intergroup Relations divi-
youths.
sion works toward achieving greater
Was it a harmless prank or just a understanding of Jews, Judaism and
case of boys being boys?
Jewish concerns.
"Absolutely not," says Laura
• The Community Service divi-
Smith, assistant director, Michigan sion supervises and coordinates the
regional office of the Anti-Defamation ADL's coast-to-coast network of 31
League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith.
regional offices.
This incident wasn't reported
• The International Affairs divi-
because the victim didn't think sion is concerned with events and
anything could be done. But according trends affecting Jews abroad.
to Smith, any case of vicious bigotry
• The Development division
is a cause for concern.
mobilizes financial support for the
"There is a big range when it League by conducting the annual
comes to anti-Semitic incidents. This ADL fund-raising appeal.
type of prank should not be con-
• The Communications division is
sidered harmless although over reac- the voice of the Anti-Defamation
ting isn't the answer either," she says. League, projecting the agency's
Had this incident been reported, policies, programs and concerns to the
many steps could have been taken. league's own constituency, to the
First, the ADL would have found out Jewish community and to the general
the location of the occurrence, record- public.
ed descriptions of the car and people
.• The Leadership division seeks
involved, contacted the police to find out and develops national leaders
out about reoccurrences and asked through seminars and activities.
the police to beef-up patrols.
The regional offices are not
"It's unusual that these types of separate entities from ADL head-
incidents are totally isolated," Smith quarters although, on a day-to-day
says. "Victimized people tend to feel basis they make their own decisions
better knowing that it wasn't just and handle their own complaints. In
them?'
the Michigan regional office, for in-
The ADL was founded in 1913 to stance, three employees — Lobenthal,
secure justice for all people and to Smith and Carla Newman, assistant
combat defamation of Jews and other director — run the whole department.
minorities.
They consider themselves to be
Richard H. Lobenthal, Midwest "generalists." Each is responsible for
director of the ADL, explains, "a the intake of complaints, fact finding,
society that tolerates prejudice fund raising and phone soliciting.
against any group is unsafe itself. In
Lobenthal says volunteer workers
order for a minority people to be are a major part of the staff. Most
secure, they must dwell in a country volunteer workers are board
that protects all."
members. These members, who serve
The ADL began in a Chicago law three-year terms, determine policy,

RENEE GLOVINSKY

The offices of the ADL.

24

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 1989

make contributions and have enough
flexibility to attend monthly
meetings. There are 165 board
members in Michigan, says Robert
Gordon, president of the Michigan
Regional advisory board.
Policy making is one of the most
important duties of the board, Gordon
says. He explains that most policies
are first recommended by the regional
board to be debated by one or more
divisioris pertaining to the issue. The
policies are reviewed on the national
level. This process is usually done
three times a year.
Gordon, whose one-year term will
be up in June, has devoted much time
to the ADL. Before becoming ADL
president, he served six years as vice
president.
"I feel that professionals who are
doing particularly well need to return
something to the community. This is
one way that I can do this," Gordon
says.
All funds raised by each regional
branch are sent to the national office
and then, Gordon says, redistributed
to the regional offices from an
annual budget. Funded completely by
donations and fund raisers, the ADL
is a non-profit institution.
One of the many functions of the
ADL is publishing of the annaul audit
of anti-Semitic incidents throughout
the country. During 1988, the League
reported 823 episodes of vandalism
and desecration and 458 acts of
harassment, threat and assault
against Jewish individuals. This led
to the highest number of anti-Semitic
incidents reported in more than five
years.
The increase can be attributed to
three factors, Smith says. The first is
the intifada, the uprising by Palesti-
nians in the West Bank and Gaza.
This, she says, was clearly related to
a high number of anti-Semitic in-
cidents including bomb threats and
phone or mail threats. The second fac-
tor is the increase of young neo-Nazi
"Skinheads" around the country,
especially in California. The third
reason is the rising incidents on col-
lege campuses, which have more than
doubled since the ADL's 1987 survey.
For ADL employees, working with
hatred and fear comes with the ter-
ritory. "We don't consider ourselves in
danger, though," Lobenthal says. But
one may disagree with that statement
when challenged by an intercom and
television camera at the League's
entrance.

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