Abraham Foxman

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Abraham H. Foxman (1940) has been the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) since 1987, having joined the organization in 1965. In that role, he has worked both to reduce antisemitism, been a cornerstone of improved race relations in the United States, and to promote Zionism. Born in Poland in 1940, Mr. Foxman was saved from the Holocaust as an infant by his Polish Catholic nanny who baptized and raised him as a Catholic during the war years. His parents survived the war, but 14 members of his family were lost. He and his parents came to the U.S. in 1950.[1]

A New York Times interviewer asked him if he used a style of outrage to discuss events, especially the book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy; the article suggested Foxman was becoming increasingly binary: "good for the Jews, bad for the Jews" and had disturbed some of his constituency by welcoming Christian Zionism. [2] In contrast, the President of France, Jacques Chirac, decorated him for a lifelong dedication to three causes, "the duty to remember, the battle against anti-Semitism and the need for dialogue for peace."[3]

Israeli-Palestine conflict

He and Bill Moyers engaged in a public correspondence after the start of the 2009 Gaza conflict. [4] Foxman said that Moyers' January 9 commentary contained

  1. moral equivalency between Hamas, a radical Islamic terrorist group whose anti-Semitic charter cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and perhaps America’s greatest ally in the world;
  2. historical revisionism, asserting that Canaanites were Arabs;
  3. anti-Semitism, declaring that Jews are “genetically coded” for violence;
  4. ignorance of the terrorist threat against Israel, claiming that checkpoints, the security fence, and the Gaza operation are tactics of humiliation rather than counter-terrorism
  5. promotion of an individual, the Norwegian doctor in Gaza, who has publicly expressed support for the September 11 attacks.

In response to being accused of "moral equivalency, racism, historical revisionism, and indifference to terrorism", Moyers wrote back than Foxman's statements had several errors. He denied that he had suggested moral equivalence, but told Foxman that to "call someone a racist for lamenting the slaughter of civilians by the Israeli military offensive in Gaza is a slur unworthy of the tragedy unfolding there. Your resort to such a tactic is reprehensible." Moyers then said "Earlier this week it was widely reported that the International Red Cross 'was so outraged it broke its usual silence over an attack in which the Israeli army herded a Palestinian family into a building and then shelled it, killing 30 people and leaving the surviving children clinging to the bodies of their dead mothers. The army prevented rescuers from reaching the survivors for four days...When American troops committed a similar atrocity in Vietnam, it was called My Lai and Lt. Calley went to prison for it. As the publisher of a large newspaper at the time, I instructed our editorial staff to cover the atrocity fully because Americans should know what our military was doing in our name and with our funding. To say 'my country right or wrong'” is like saying “my mother drunk or sober.'"

Foxman said the awarding, by President Barack Obama, 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson "as an 'agent of change' was ill-advised. While Mary Robinson may have accomplishments to her credit, she also, unfortunately, has an animus toward Israel as evidenced by her tenure as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Rather than be constructive and act objectively on Middle East issues, she became a lead cheerleader for the Palestinian narrative. Foxman criticized her both for blaming Israel for the second Intifada, and for allowing the "the delegitimizing of Israel and pronouncements of hateful anti-Jewish canards, such as 'Zionism is racism.'" at the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. [5]

He has asked “What does supporting Israel in matters related to biblical issues mean in today’s world? Does it mean [supporting Israel] on both banks of the Jordan River?” "Some Jewish communal leaders questioned how such an umbrella organization would respond to Israeli withdrawals from land in the West Bank that evangelicals believe was given by God to the Jewish people."[6]

Academic relations

Foxman, in March 2009, met privately with officials of the University of California at Santa Barbara, urging them to investigate charges of anti-semitism against sociology professor William I. Robinson. Robinson [7] He had emailed, to a class on sociology of globalization, public materials that drew analogies between Israeli actions and Nazi atrocities. [8] It drew a complaint from the regional ADL director two weeks later. On June 15, the university dropped all charges, after a faculty committee, in May, had said "The Committee is “unanimous in finding that his sending the email is in accord with the principles of academic freedom, especially when teaching a class whose content is the sociology of globalization.” [9]

Holocaust studies


  • Secondary education at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City.
  • B.A. in political science from the City University of New York, graduating with honors in history.
  • law degree from New York University School of Law
  • graduate work in Jewish studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary and in international economics at New York's New School for Social Research


  1. Biography of Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League
  2. James Traub (14 January 2007), "Does Abe Foxman Have an Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?", New York Times
  3. Jacques Chirac (16 August 2006), Decoration of Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Embassy of France in the United States
  4. "Exchange Between Bill Moyers and Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League", Bill Moyers' Journal, PBS, January 2009
  5. Statement on 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Mary Robinson, Anti-Defamation League, 3 August 2009
  6. Ori Nir (7 April 2006), "Christian Pro-Israel Lobby Gets a Boost", Jewish Daily Forward
  7. Daniel Olmos, Alba Peña-Leon (28 April 2009), Abraham Foxman pushed UC-Santa Barbara to investigate professor, Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB (CDAF-SB)
  8. The Original Course Material at Issue, Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB (CDAF-SB)
  9. UCSB terminates case against Professor, Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB (CDAF-SB), 24 June 2009