Not So Wild for Wilders at the ADL

A Guest Post by Eli Clifton:

On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League(ADL)-whose mission statement is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all”-issued a statement condemning remarks made by Dutch MP Geert Wilders in south Florida.

The ADL issued the following statement:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) strongly condemns remarks made over the last few days at various appearances throughout South Florida by Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. In his speeches, he claimed that “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply to this totalitarian ideology called Islam.” Mr. Wilders also stated that the Koran is a book of hatred, and that Mohammed was both “a pedophile and a warlord.”

Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL Florida Regional Director, issued the following statement:

The ADL strongly condemns Geert Wilders’ message of hate against Islam as inflammatory, divisive and antithetical to American democratic ideals.

This rhetoric is dangerous and incendiary, and wrongly focuses on Islam as a religion, as opposed to the very real threat of extremist, radical Islamists.

Ali Gharib, Daniel Luban and I have been following Geert Wilders’ trips to the US and detailing the groups who have sponsored his appearances in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Palm Beach. We’ve written about Wilders and his supporters here and here. Ali has blogged on Huffington Post about his run-in with some of Wilders’ more rabid supporters here and David Frum‘s institutional ties to Wilders here.

The ADL—as discussed recently by Daniel Luban in his review of Defamation—is known for aligning with the Israeli right-wing Likud party and liberally throwing accusations of anti-Semitism at critics of Israeli policy.

Most recently, retired diplomat Charles Freeman came into the cross-hairs of the ADL for his comments questioning the US’ unconditional support of Israel. Freeman, who had been nominated to chair the National Intelligence Council, was forced to withdraw his name from nomination after he was targeted by the ADL, the Zionist Organization of America, the Middle East Forum, and, more discreetly, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Condemnation of Wilders’ rhetoric from a high-profile, Jewish, right-wing source won’t help Wilders’ credibility as a friend of the Jews or a loyal supporter of the state of Israel.

Hosts such as: Frank Gaffney’s Centre for Security Policy, David Horowitz’s Freedom Centre, Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors may have to explain to their members why they’re hosting a man that the Anti-Defamation League has publicly denounced as, “inflammatory, divisive and antithetical to American democratic ideals”.

This, added to Wilders’–and a number of his hosts’–refusal to distance themselves from the Belgian Vlaams Belang party—which gained notoriety for advocating on behalf of convicted Nazi collaborators—could make the decision to support Wilders an increasingly difficult position to defend.

Below is a video clip of some of Wilders’ incendiary remarks made at a south Florida synagogue.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. I wish there were 10 Americans who knew lick-spittle about Islam and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. I am an advocate for Islam, though I am not religious. I’ve studied a wide panapoly of faith traditions.

    Islam doesn’t base faith on who your momma is. Islam doesn’t base salvation on reciting and “believing” in a syllogism. The Quran says that all people will be judged the same, based on how they treated their neighbors.

    Islam offers more rights and protections for women than does Christianity or Judaism in which a fair argument can be made that women were chattel.

    What is perhaps the ugliest and most dangerous doctrine in the Judaeo-Christian tradition is the “chosen” nature of Jews and the “elect” nature of Christianity.

    These both make it so that Jews and Christians are better than all other people. This is, if not racist, dangerously close to tilling the soil, sowing the seeds of exceptionalism and watering it in.

    The Quran does say that the Islamic way of life, which commands tolerance of people of other faith traditions, no evangelism, and treating those outside the Muslim tradition better than your own–that this lifestyle is the best for people.

    I got here as a Christian who couldn’t accept the Trinity, though the teachings of Jesus have always been central to my faith tradition. This naturally led me to Judaism. There is no consensus that one may convert to Judaism, so I explored the other Monotheistic tradition.

    I revere that tradition, if I am still a bit critical. I believe that is our charge. Jesus presents us with such a challenge when discussing the Golden Rule. When asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. The Bible is not to be blindly followed, that would lead no one to wisdom.

    The Bible must be wrestled with. If we make it a license for Jews to lord their special relationship with God over and at the expense of their neighbors then we’ve turned the Torah to a piece of selfish self help shit.

    The Bible is only valuable if we can take universal lessons that apply equally to all people. Jesus challenges us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Bible does to. We must fight against our own selfish designs as well as the selfish council that can be improperly excerpted from the Bible.

    Perhaps the most radical quote in the Bible is when Jesus challenges us to love our enemies and reminds us that how we treat the least among us is how we love God.

  2. The Jews were chosen as the instruments to receive God’s Instruction, his Torah. In no other way do Jews consider themselves chosen or superior. On the contrary. Jews are expected to live up to the 613 commandments in the Hebrew Bible while Gentiles are expected only to adhere to the seven virtues of Noah to be saved. There is therefore a strong case to be made that the pious Jew, needing to be more closely bonded to God, actually considers himself inferior, not superior. One rabbinic tradition has it that the Jews were offered the Torah last. Another has it that the Jews had the choice to accept it or be buried under Mt. Sinai, which shows just how dumb some rabbis are: can one really call a coerced agreement a covenant?

    So Jews do not “lord their special relationship with God,” though it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard non-Jews tell me that we do! But then, who would know, we ourselves or superior mind-readers like you? Perhaps you’re God himself? All knowing? Perhaps that explains your drift from one religion to another to another to another… perhaps you’re a narcissist who wants to be worshipped and God is just too much competition? Maybe you’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven?

    As for conversion, agreement is everywhere. You can convert to “Jewish lite” but If you want to be recognized throughout the Jewish world you must be converted by an Orthodox Rabbi, period. This takes much study and more critical thinking that you are capable of, judging from your post above. We make it hard because we don’t like quitters and drifters who “wander up and down and all through the earth.”

    Lastly, the “Judeo-Christian tradition” is a very dubious thing. Toynbee had it that Christianity was unable to divorce itself from Torah Law though Marcion unsuccessfully attempted to do so: a great pity, to Toynbee’s mind. The reason? There wasn’t enough material in the New Testament to give an adequate body of laws to Christians! I’ll say! Paul said: “If it weren’t for the Law I never would have known sin. It is the Law that breeds sin.” Well, Mr. Toynbee is, at the least, guilty of the understatement of the century if not a grotesque act of prevarication! The New Testament is, in fact, a trial. It is the Law itself that is on trial and the Law is found to be wanting.

    Jewish faith and Christian belief are very different. One believes in Law and the other rejects it in favour of Grace. Yet Christianity cannot let go of of the Law. This accounts for the profound distaste for Judaism within the souls of many Christians and a horrible inner torment regarding that distaste. Read Dostoevsky for a taste of that distaste. “Why should such a man live?” relates to both Fyodor Karamazov and to God Himself (God the Father in Christian parlance, just God to Jews). The son inherits when the father dies. And the son, that Raskalnikov (excuse the pun) finds he’s no Napoleon, no progressive, no substitute for God but a worm for having taken the Law into his own hands and hastened his inheritance. I know I”m mixing two books up but the two murderers are more similar than different. It is Smerdyahov of course who murders his adopted father, Karamazov… and he hangs himself for it. So if there is a “Judeo-Christian” anything, it is as ambivalent as anything could possibly be.

  3. Toynbee also said that paganism would eventually make a comeback and supersede the Abrahamic religions. I don’t have the quote to hand, but it’s in “The Greeks and Their Heritages” (Oxford University Press). I don’t own a copy of the book, so I can’t give the page number. But it’s there.

    Christianity is the offspring of Judaism, and Islam is the “Protestant” version of Christianity (on this see Spengler, for example).

    A plague on all your houses, I say. Many of the problems of the world can be attributed to these three belief systems. I find Judaism the least offensive of the three, but that’s not saying all that much.

  4. you’re right, I’m stupid and you’ve described every jew in the world. I could never understand you’re insights. Now, If there is one god, then there is one truth. Presumably the different faith traditions would give a different handle on that one truth.

    William Blake said and did far more, and for more consequence than Toynbee or Marcion. And, he got both perspectives in his one tome. Now, since you speak for all Jews, I suppose those that I know who are really full of hubris and do have difficulty with their chosenness. They have admitted this privately and when pressed. It flows from their logic.

    Of course you’ve spoken for all jews. So either my qualified “some” and pointing to the text and how that gets distorted in very human minds is wrong, or you’ve foolishly jumped at broad sweeping generalizations.

    The real challenge in faith is the understand our common heritage and to work for the justice and rights of all people. Rabbi Hillel and Jesus, contemporaries both taught the Golden Rule.

    Several truths come out of this; first is that we are all bretheren. How, dear Rabbi do you reconcile the Golden Rule with the Book of Joshua? What ever your answer, clinically it will be pathological. The trick is to find your neighbor in your neighbor. This is indeed how the law is lacking.

    Because, reality is not black and white. Yet, you’ve made just such a claim. No, life is a Jihad, a struggle. As someone who has studied various faith traditions the Book of Joshua particularly is singular in it’s celebration of atrocity and genocide. At least Abraham was troubled, perhaps he would have been as gleeful as Joshua if that were some Palestinian boy. Of course we all know that Isaac was Abraham’s second son. Ishmael was Abraham’s first son according to the Bible, that was a sacred covenant between he and Hagar, and there can be no doubting that was his first born.

    But hey, you’ve got the clear reading of it all. I suppose you humble Jews have the cliff notes hidden somewhere. I wish you were as vocal about the Trinity. If one doesn’t believe in the Trinity, which I don’t, how are the two testaments so different? Is it not sheer opportunism that keeps Jews from being clear about the messianic prophecies? Why don’t Jews make it clear that they have no intention of worshiping the Messiah?

    Since Muslims see Jesus as the Messiah but not God, I see Jewish silence here as keeping an open wound festering. For, if we take a unitarian god, accept Jesus’ ministry one must investigate Islam. But, very few Jews would ever want to see Islam legitimated.

    For Christians, Jews (and Muslims in power) are not religious, but opportunists. Whether these stories are truth thinly veiled or whole frauds, the implementation of these traditions by those in power has utterly destroyed any wisdom or merit. This misuse has run to such a disturbing degree if it isn’t fraud it is blasphemy and heresy.

    What I most appreciate about Islam is that it is the most austere of the three traditions. It has the least involved, developed clergy. There is no hierarchy like in the Christian churches. This lets Muslims advance on their own wisdom, but the wisdom of the individual is higher than that of the demagogues and charlatans that seek power.

    All religions are flawed as all are run by men. Islam is the most progressive of the three traditions according to the text. Certainly there are cultures and places where Muslims practice traditions that are antithetical to the Quran and Islamic tradition.

    Similarly, I don’t think Judaism is a corrupt or flawed faith, but the tradition has some sticky lessons that can easily be perverted. These are human failings, and for you to say that Jews are either unlike other people and not prone to excesses or truly to take any broad claim is philosophically stupid. Perhaps you are not philosophically smart enough to get this. See, the Jewish tradition leans heavily on creation ex-nihlo. But the Ancient Greeks knew this was sloppy philosophy, but the Jews were never advanced in philosophy. Even the great Spinoza was closer to a Muslim than Jew.

  5. David Frum is a neocon cautiously looking for a new host. The ADL is merely executing a cynical public relations ploy to confuse the public about their agenda. AIPAC falsely tells the Jerusalem Post that they are lobbying for a two-state solution when in fact they are lobbying for an economic embargo on Iran. Wilders will be kicked to the curb in due course and history will be revised.

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