In a mid December conference in Jerusalem, computer experts,
governmental officials, and academics gathered under the banner of ,
"Confronting On-Line Terrorism and Anti-Semitism." Amongst
the names of sponsors and co-sponsors, one organization stands as
the most active by far in the field of censorship, mainly in the
United States; the Anti Defamation League (ADL).
What compels dozens of professionals and activists to fly long
distances from all corners of the globe to meet in a "disputed
city" only miles away from a war zone? It's the fear of losing
a greater war, a war that has cost Israel an abundance, the Internet
media war that is.
Perhaps since the establishment of the ADL in 1913 to "fight
anti-Semitism and bigotry in the world", the gigantic
organization with hundreds of offices in the US, Europe and Israel
has never felt as outnumbered as it feels today. The Internet
revolution, among its many positive aspects has given a voice to
those, who unlike the ADL, are unable to rely on a $46 million
budget to spread their message.
The ADL, has a powerful lobby which deeply impacts US domestic as
well as foreign policy, and has come under repeated attacks over the
years, and was heavily cited for failing to champion what its
preaches. In fact, it is accused of being a promoter of hatred and
In the 1970's, the group was caught distributing lists of persons
deemed as enemies, according to SF Weekly in its February
issue. Among those who were defamed for being "pro-Arab
propagandists" was the highly renowned professor Noam
Chomskey. In 1993, according to the same source, the ADL was caught
illegally spying on nearly 10,000 people "including members of
socialist, labor and anti-apartheid groups."
But why would an organization whose "ultimate purpose is to
secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike, and to put
an end forever to injustice and unfair discrimination against, and
ridicule of any sect or body of citizens" carry out such
"The number one goal of the ADL is the protection of
Israel," a former Republican congressman from San Mateo Pete
McCloskey told SF Weekly in a recent interview.
The organization however, who claims to fight for other issues
beside its vibrant defense of Israel, has done very little in recent
months to demonstrate those claims. The outbreak of the Palestinian
uprising against the Israeli occupation had caused the ADL to gear
up for one fight, and one fight only, supporting Israel and
censoring those who criticize the Jewish state for using excessive
violence, for violating international law and for committing
genocide in areas which are supposed to be protected under human
The organization which often legitimizes its missions by fighting
minor and highly despised groups in the US like white supremacists,
has unmasked its real identify and has joined Israel's propaganda
war, employing all of its resources to justify the Israeli armyís
ongoing genocide of unarmed civilians.
The ADLís website is a perfect example of the organization's
full-fledged support of Israel. While the overwhelming majority of
deaths, many of whom were children, were Palestinians, the ADL
seemed only concerned with the Israeli army and settlers' losses.
"Anti-Israel violence" is a section that is updated daily.
Nothing was said regarding the loss of life among Palestinians,
nothing about the murder of children like Muhammad Al Durra, nothing
to explain the illegal status of the Israeli settlers, and of
course, nothing to site the international laws concerning the Arab
In fact, the United Nations was itself under attack. "the
ADL says UN Human Rights Chief has accepted "hook, line and
sinker" Palestinian strategy, calls her report distorted and
detrimental," charged one of the site's top reports. The US
government was itself under attack. "the ADL says US criticism
of Israel's retaliatory action for an attack on school bus is
counterproductive." And of course, Arabs and Muslims were left
with the largest share of attacks and threats; "the ADL says if
Egypt doesn't return its ambassador to Israel in a timely manner,
America should reassess US aid to Egypt."
But the Internet showed that the ADL, despite its resources and
influence no matter how large and long armed, is still vulnerable.
The rapidly growing Arab and Muslim presence on the Internet alarmed
the ADL that its endless propaganda campaign may be doomed, if the
Internet is not censored, so that the ADLís voice is the only one
heard. Hence, the introduction of the Hate Filter.
The ADL describes its Hate Filter as "a software product
designed to act as a gatekeeper." Once more to legitimize its
censorship efforts, the ADL succeeded in introducing its product as
part of Mattel's Cyber Patrol, a software package set to block a
large range of offensive web sites, including pornographic ones.
Moreover, the organization is ceaselessly working to enforce its
product on private and public libraries and educational
institutions. President Clinton has already endorsed the software.
In a statement made October of last year following a meeting with
the ADLís national director, Abraham Foxman, Clinton said,
"thank you for your pioneering work to filter out hate on the
internet." The ADL's director of civil rights Elizabeth Coleman
said in a seminar earlier this year that Vice President Al Gore has
also seen and has endorsed the product and in fact "loved
McCloskey on the other hand, protested the ADLís seemingly
successful censorship attempts saying, "Any group whose sole
purpose is to protect a foreign nation should not have anything to
say about what's said or written here in America."
The Intifada, and the cyber war which was provoked by Israeli
hacker attacks on pro-Palestinian web sites, was another reminder of
the vulnerability of the ADL and other Israeli and pro-Israeli
groups, when it comes to the World Wide Web. As a result, the recent
Jerusalem conference was a badly needed chance for the re-making of
a new media strategy that would withstand the upsurge of Arab and
Muslim presence on the Internet.
The mounting worries of pro-Israeli groups were stressed in the
speech delivered by the director of the ADLís Israel office, David
Rosen. Rosen warned of what he called Islamic propaganda, which he
described as one upholding Christian Anti-Semitic themes. "The
lone wolf of the past is no longer such and can link up to become a
pack," he said.