ADL Report

In late December, 2013 the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a report defending the Newton Public Schools (NPS) from criticisms made in an advertisement published by the groups Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) and Open Newton Schools (ONS), both headed by activist Charles Jacobs.

Why the ADL chose to insert itself into a private battle between a school district and two small, almost unknown non-profits would be a mystery but for the fact that top ADL staff have personal and family connections with Newton School Committee members.

The "report" issued by the ADL is a poorly-researched review of six documents mentioned in the APT advertisement. While the advertisement is undoubtedly misleading, the ADL report is little better.

The ADL report was the subject of considerable controversy. Articles criticizing the report pointed out that it was hurriedly prepared only after suspicions  arose regarding the ADL and related organizations Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) refused to set forth the basis for their pronouncement that there were 'no problems' with material used in NPS classrooms.

Shortly thereafter, the ADL released the report, a copy of which is available below (third file down) and on the ADL's website. The Report bases its conclusion of 'no problems found' on six documents, all listed in the APT advertisement, to which it gave a cursory review. The fact that there are literally hundreds of documents used by the approximately forty teachers of World History I and World History II courses, which are taken by nearly two thousand Newton high school students each year, renders the ADL's conclusions unreliable. 

PENS' analysis discusses both the APT's slapdash, misleading advertisement and the ADL's hurriedly produced and equally misleading report about the APT ad. It is saddening and disturbing that the Boston Jewish community relies on these equally unreliable groups for information as to the integrity of NPS curriculum and other issues.

It is even sadder and more disturbing that ADL executives, whose salaries are paid by the Jewish community, see nothing wrong with using their supporter's hard-earned dollars to bolster their friends' and relatives' actions without any regard for facts. They do not seem to understand that the ADL is not their personal fiefdom and that they are not deities to whom the populace should cede judgement.

The absurd "Joint Statement" by the ADL, JCRC, and CJP, which claims that a hastily produced, inaccurate, and misleading four-page 'report' on six (out of hundreds of) documents used by the NPS should "reassure" the community that "claims made against members of the Newton School Committee can now be put to rest" indicates the poor light in which those organizations, as well as the NPS, view the public that pays their salaries.

Like the NPS, those organizations have made it clear that those who do not adhere to the party line will be punished.  In the ADL's case, this is the absurd threat that it would no longer advertise in the newspaper Jewish Advocate, which questioned some of the ADL's and CJP's pronouncements. 

If threats from the ADL don't deter skeptics, that organization hopes that their rabbis' wrath will. In response to an Advocate article, "ADL, CJP Newton reaction raises questions of integrity", which reported the growing suspicion in the Jewish community that the ADL and CJP had not been honest in their pronouncements about the Newton schools, a group of sixty-one rabbis published a letter on the ADL's website declaring "A Line Has Been Crossed" (the letter's title). In the letter, the rabbis denounced the "baseless accusations and insinuations" as part of an "attempt to impugn the integrity of three of our most significant Jewish organizations" by "calling into question the truthfulness and integrity of some of the finest and most dedicated leaders of our community". The message is clear - anyone who dares question any act of the Jewish community's appointed leadership is an enemy.

We do not believe that Jewish 'leaders' who deliberately cover up overtly anti-Israel material to protect friends and relatives do not deserve to be called "the finest and most dedicated leaders" available, nor do we agree that Jewish agencies and the Newton Public Schools are so infallible that their acts cannot be questioned.

A PENS member who questioned her rabbi about these issues and about the NPS curriculum was told that she and her family were no longer welcome at the synagogue. Apparently, the sixty-one rabbis also believe, without any evidence and without viewing reports from CAMERA, Verity Educate, and other organizations,that there are no anti-Israel materials in Newton schools either. asked her rabbi why he supported the ADL in covering up the NPS' use of anti-Israel material. Anyone belonging to a Reform, Conservative or Reconstructionist congregation is at risk.

Is it really too much to ask for honest, responsive and responsible leadership from rabbis and communal organization executives? In Newton, the answer is apparently "yes".

PENS' analysis of the ADL report and thadvertisement published the published by Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) and Open Newton Schools (ONS) can be found below and at the links. The ADL report itself can be found below and on the ADL's website. Documents relating to the analysis are below.


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