What happens in Poland doesn’t stay in Poland


 Did the ADL’s Abe Foxman try to keep Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department’s top officials handling Anti-Semitism, from joining a group of Imams who visited Auschwitz?

Politico’s Laura Rozen, who first broke the story, blogs the follow-up by Salon’s Justin Elliott, and the answer is … huh?

Mr. Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League are not opposed to imams visiting Auschwitz. Indeed, we are delighted a group of imams recently visited two camps in which the Nazis implemented their final solution for the extermination of European Jewry. We are hopeful that through this experience the imams can now help educate Muslims in America and abroad about the horrors of the Holocaust, its lessons for today and the perniciousness of Holocaust denial

Mr. Foxman raised the question of the appropriateness of the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism to accompany individually and privately sponsored trips. Given that there are many places in the world where anti-Semitism remains a problem, we believe that her leadership role in fighting anti-Semitism is best done government to government.

Now, it’s by no means out of place for Jewish groups to suggest broad outlines of policy to Rosenthal, or her predecessor, Gregg Rickman, who initiated the job. But this smacks of micromanagement — in the sense of the difference between raising the importance of an emphasis on country-to-country meetings in a routine briefing with State Department officials, and making specific calls about a specific trip.

Laura solicits Hannah’s reply:

My reason for going was simple – Anti-Semitism is growing in places for different reasons, but Holocaust denial is growing in parts of the Muslim communities and must be confronted in order to combat the anti-Semitism that accompanies it.

The response to my participation on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. As I travel to countries facing increased anti-Semitism, I regularly meet with Jewish organizations, and interfaith and interethnic organizations, in addition to meeting with government leaders. I recognize that this age-old hatred will take a multi-faceted approach: calling for government leadership in condemning anti-Semitism; better education for the younger generation; interfaith understanding and advocacy; and good old-fashioned relationship building. I am trying hard to do just that.

Making this weirder, Hannah has made no secret of her plan to make Muslim outreach central to her mission — so this should not have come as a surprise.

Justin reports that Abe called Hannah and the White House to make his case, and that he asked a Polish rabbi not to meet with the group.

We’re going to try and find out more.

I’m always a little wary of how Abe’s conversations are characterized — the press has a habit of assigning to him powers he doesn’t claim and malice he doesn’t bear. He was blamed a few years ago for keeping the late Tony Judt (an outspoken Israel critic) out of the Polish consulate. It emerged that he didn’t even make a call (the AJC did), but the story refuses to die.

Recommended from JTA