League satisfied with MoveOn.org's vigilance in keeping
anti-Semitism out of their public forum.
Point - Counterpoint: Allegations Against MoveOn.org
Bastion of Democracy and Tikkun Olam, or
Bastion of Terrorism and Anti-Semitism.
Conservative groups are criticizing Democratic candidates for
accepting contributions from liberal grassroots group MoveOn.org's
Political Action Committee which briefly had anti-Semitic comments
posted on its online forum.
Don't Play Politics With
-- Sam Gejdenson
Heading into the home stretch of another bitterly fought national election, partisans on both sides aren't pulling any punches. Democrats charge Republicans with incompetence, corruption and failed leadership. Republicans call Democrats ready to cut and run on Iraq, weak on security and, of course, tax-and-spend liberals.
Name-calling and partisan attacks may turn the public off of politics and politicians, but they are a part of the political game and unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
There are, however, lines that shouldn't be crossed even in the heat of partisan battle. One such red line is using charges of
anti-Semitism for political purposes.
In recent years, Republicans have tried to scare Jewish voters with charges that Democrats are insufficiently supportive of Israel. My former congressional colleague Howard Berman addressed that charge on this page two weeks ago.
Now, however, they've upped the ante, seeking to paint the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party as more maliciously
Anti-Semitism remains a real danger in the 21st century. Readers of this paper scarcely need to be reminded of the death, suffering and destruction that hatred of the Jewish people has caused. My own family and that of many American Jews suffered its effects in Europe and elsewhere, within our own lifetimes. The wounds are fresh and the ongoing examples of it today all too real.
Recognizing this stark reality, we must condemn and fight anti-Semitism
whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head --- as well as the anti-Semites
themselves, whether they come from the left or from the right. Our experience as a people obligates us to fight xenophobia, homophobia and all forms of discrimination and to rally the forces of freedom and tolerance to that fight.
The ability to do that, however, is severely damaged when the anti-Semitism
charge is tossed around lightly and for political purpose. Crying wolf about
anti-Semitism demeans the charge and makes it more likely that, when faced with the real thing, the victims will not be able to generate necessary attention and concern.
Over the past two months, conservative media commentators have undertaken a concerted attack on MoveOn.org,
the progressive online movement, charging, as the Washington Times did in an editorial, that the organization has ?a Jewish problem."
William Kristol in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard, Robert Goldberg in the Washington Times
and others have taken shots at the organization as part of the global rising tide of
anti-Semitism. Their obvious political aim is to move Jewish voters in this tight election season to the Republican column.
To back their claims up, they point to anti-Semitic posts on the organization's electronic bulletin boards to say that the entire organization
--- and by implication, the Democratic Party --- are
It matters not a whit to those making the charges that these bulletin boards are open to the public, or that the posts were not put up by
MoveOn members. Neither do they care that the organization immediately took down those posts and issued a strong statement condemning them.
It matters not that cyberspace is rife with crackpots and extremists of all stripes and politics from right-wing skinheads to left-wing anarchists ---
all free to post their ranting and raving on anyone's Web site that invites public comment , as does MoveOn's.
It matters not that many of MoveOn's leaders, staff and consultants are Jewish, and even have family living in Israel.
The opportunity to charge anti-Semitism against the organization, and more broadly against the left,
was simply too tempting in this political season.
Such use of anti-Semitism for blatant political purpose should have no place in the American political dialogue. A growing cloud of global
anti-Semitism hangs over our community and our brothers and sisters around the world. Rather than disappearing with progress and modernity, the phenomenon is once again on the rise. The reasons why can be left to debate another day.
Whatever our political allegiances, the Jewish community should unite in condemning any effort by any side to demean and diminish the evil that is
anti-Semitism by brandishing the charge for political purposes.
We face enough real dangers and challenges in the world to which we need to focus our national and communal attention. We don't need William Kristol, the Washington Times and other conservative media voices to invent dangers and enemies that don't exist.
Sam Gejdenson, a Connecticut Democrat, served in the House of Representatives from 1980 to 2000, retiring as the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee.
MoveOn.Org Responsible For Anti-Semitic
And Other Hate Speech
-- William A. Levinson,
I wonder if Russ Feingold would be so eager to speak at
MoveOn.org events if he knew that MoveOn.org welcomed the most
vicious imaginable anti-Semitic hate speech at
its Action Forum. While MoveOn's moderators were
very diligent at finding and censoring criticisms of MoveOn.org and
the hate speech, they let stand an actual blood libel
that says the Talmud commands Jews to
slaughter non-Jews along with the assertion that Jews
control all the media. "Jew" was itself used as an epithet
("Jew Lieberman done") and Rep. Tom
Lantos was called an "arrogant Jew." MoveOn.org
has tried to disclaim responsibility but its exercise of editorial
control over the Action Forum makes it 100 percent responsible
for the content.
Welcomes Move.org's Responsiveness In Removing Anti-Semitic Messages
-- Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the responsiveness of MoveOn.org Political Action in removing anti-Semitic messages that had been posted on the Action Forum on their Web site.
In response to a letter of concern, Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn Political Action, has been in direct contact with ADL. He indicated that MoveOn.org found the comments abhorrent and had them removed.
ADL is pleased with Mr. Pariser's responsiveness to our concerns and believes the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
The exchange of letters in this matter is reprinted below:
MoveOn Political Action
Dear Mr. Pariser:
We have received complaints that anti-Semitic messages have been posted on the Action Forum under the auspices of MoveOn.org. Some of the examples are "media owning Jewish pigs," referring to Senator Joseph Lieberman as "Jew Lieberman," "Zionazis," and "why are the Jews so Jew-y?"
We recognize that the Action Forum is an open forum intended to foster the free flow of ideas. Nevertheless, since such profoundly offensive content is appearing on a board clearly linked to MoveOn.org, we believe you should assume some responsibility to respond to this hateful content. Specifically, we would urge you to exercise your own First Amendment rights and issue a statement making it clear that your organization finds such messages abhorrent.
The First Amendment free speech guarantee allows all of us to speak our minds, and, like you, we treasure that freedom. It has long been the Anti-Defamation League's position that the best response to bad speech is not censorship, but good speech. However, the First Amendment carries certain obligations with it. The primary obligation of responsible citizens and organization is to speak out and to condemn bigotry, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Haters may have the right to express their hate, but that hate should not go unchallenged. Most importantly, those who allow hate to rear its ugly head under their auspices bear a special responsibility to distance themselves from that hate, and to speak out against it, as loudly as possible.
Sincerely, Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League
Dear Mr. Foxman,
I'd like to bring to your attention the statement (attached below) that we issued today and posted on our website in response to your letter.
I'd appreciate an opportunity to follow up.
Eli Pariser, Executive Director, MoveOn.org Political Action
Statements from Move.org
-- Eli Pariser, Executive Director, MoveOn.org Political Action
(1) Opponents of MoveOn.org have launched a concerted campaign to smear the progressive online movement with false charges of
anti-Semitism. Today, we say enough!
When the staff at MoveOn.org learned that anti-Semitic comments had been made on its open forum, they acted swiftly to remove the offensive remarks. The Anti-Defamation League praised their response, declaring themselves "satisfied with [MoveOn's] responsiveness" and characterizing the matter as having been "resolved satisfactorily."
Yet this politicization of anti-Semitism has continued unabated, with charges migrating from The Washington Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Jewish press, repeated ad nauseam on the internet. Join us and stand up to those elements in our country who would politicize
anti-Semitism in service of an agenda antithetical to our community's values.
MoveOn.org is a progressive movement that represents many core Jewish values, including hope
(tikvah), courage (ometz), community (kehilah), and dignity
(tzelem elohim). Many of its Jewish members and staff are undoubtedly motivated to act by their desire to repair the world
(tikkun olam) through righteous action (tzedekah) and acts of loving-kindness
We cannot allow these attacks to go unanswered by the Jewish community, which is rightfully concerned when charges of
anti-Semitism are leveled but equally concerned when false accusations of
anti-Semitism are used for partisan purposes.
(2) MoveOn's ActionForum is an open forum where members of the public and MoveOn members can post their thoughts regarding
important political issues.
Once in a while --- as in any public forum --- inappropriate material is posted. Recently, a few of the thousands of comments that are posted every week
contained anti-Semitic language.
The comments that were posted were abhorrent. We were dismayed to see them, and removed them as soon as they came to our attention 17 days ago.
Many of the comments identified were not, in fact, made by MoveOn members. We are working to discern whether they were made as a part of a
right-wing campaign to target the organization. Clearly, any attempt to tie MoveOn's 3.2 million members to the hateful comments of a
few non-members on an online public forum is wrong.
We were pleased to see that so many MoveOn members rose to sharply criticize the hate speech that was posted ---
even before it was brought to our
-- Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA
Announcer: It's the question everyone is asking. How low is Lois Murphy willing to go?
Murphy is now running an ad attacking Jim Gerlach for donating to charity a political contribution that came from a Congressman who pleaded guilty to a crime.
You heard right! Murphy is actually attacking Jim Gerlach even though he gave the contribution to charity.
The very same Lois Murphy who has accepted a quarter of a million dollars in support tied to the radical extremist group,
MoveOn.org, who has been called anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic.
Jewish leaders called an ad posted by MoveOn, featuring Hitler, as vile and shameful. Both Jewish leaders and the Catholic League have demanded candidates return money tied to
MoveOn, and Lois Murphy hasn't returned one cent. Zip. None.
Pretty telling about Lois Murphy, isn't it?
Jim Gerlach: I'm Jim Gerlach, candidate for Congress, and I approve this message.
Announcer: Paid for and authorized by Jim Gerlach for Congress.
Gerlach Playing the Anti-Semitic Card
-- Lois Murphy, Democratic candidate (PA-6)
True to form, a recent Gerlach radio ad attacks me by charging that I am supported by a group he labels anti-Semitic, and suggests that I endorse anti-Semitism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is this charge highly offensive, but it is grossly inaccurate and unbecoming for any member of Congress to throw around this heinous charge in a desperate attempt to remain in office. Such improper language is counterproductive and undermines the seriousness of the issue.
Let's set the record straight. MoveOn.org has a website that includes an open forum where anyone can post messages.
A few of those messages --- written by people who were not in fact members of the organization --- contained offensive remarks. M
oveOn.org acted swiftly to remove the messages, apologized, and immediately condemned them.
The Anti-Defamation League, which strives to end ?defamation of Jewish people," issued a statement by national director Abraham Foxman on its website titled ?ADL Welcomes MoveOn.org's Responsiveness in Removing Anti-Semitic Messages." The message also said that ?ADL is pleased with Mr. Pariser's (executive director of MoveOn.org) responsiveness to our concerns and believes the matter has been resolved satisfactorily."