ADL Replies to ‘witch-hunt’ Charge by Chicago Rabbi

A spokesman for the B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the defense agency “is doing what the Jewish community always expected it to do, and that is to gather information on organizations that adversely affect the security of American Jews.” The spokesman was commenting on the continuing criticism of the ADL from some sections of the Jewish community for confirming to the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year the identities of local leaders of the Jewish Defense League in the Philadelphia area. The ADL was accused of gratuitously “informing” on follow Jews.

The controversy was raised here last May 28 in a Friday evening sermon by Rabbi Arnold J. Wolf of Congregation Solel of Highland Park, who was sharply critical of the ADL’s cooperation with the FBI in the JDL case. Four members of the congregation who are on the executive committee or staff of the ADL in Chicago sent a reply in the form of a letter to fellow members of Congregation Solel. Rabbi Wolf responded with a letter of his own charging the ADL with “supporting a discredited witch-hunt in Washington.” According to the ADL spokesman, both letters are being circulated by the ADL to its constituents in the Chicago area. Rabbi Wolf claimed that “In principle and as far as we know also in fact, the collaboration of ADL with FBI is not limited to giving information only on JDL members. The whole Jewish community is surely entitled to know just what other groups or individuals have been and are being reported on to the FBI by the Anti-Defamation League, groups which the ADL National Chairman describes as ‘extremists of the right or the left,’ assuming without evidence that they are also ‘groups engaged in unlawful activity,’ and producing no proof.’ He claimed that the ADL “is in fact giving information secretly collected by Jewish groups supported by Jewish funds to the FBI to use that information against other Jews…This kind of collaboration is not required by the laws of the United States and is, in my opinion, forbidden by Jewish legal and moral tradition.” Rabbi Wolf wrote.

The letter to Solel congregants from the ADL executive committee and staff members observed that “The criticism is premised upon a precept created in ancient and medieval times during the long dark period when the Jews were universally the victims of anti-Semitism as a matter of state policy. The theory behind the precept was that the state was the enemy of the Jews.” The letter noted that the ADL “has exposed organizations hiding under the Jewish label because they try to harm Israel or bring discredit to the Jewish community.” As examples, the writers cited ” The Birch Society front called the ‘Jewish Society of Americanists.’ Rabbi Elmer Berger’s various anti-Israel fronts and the anti-Israel Communist front group called ‘Committee for a just Peace in the Middle East.’ “The letter pointed out further that “Jews in the State of Israel must necessarily provide information and evidence on criminal activities on the part of other Jews…Through Interpol, the international police organization, the authorities in Israel regularly furnish to the American FBI and to other such government agencies information about American Jews who, for a variety of reasons seek haven in Israel…Would anyone suggest that these actions constitute violations of Jewish principle simply because Jews are providing information about other Jews to the Israeli or American governments?”

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