The ADL in 1933 & Berlusconi now

                        by Lenni Brenner

        [If anyone asked informed Americans to name one Zionist organization, they
        would most likely cite the Anti-Defamation League. Its ads, and letters by
        Abe Foxman, its National Director, appear routinely in the New York Times
        and other publications.

        It wasn't Zionist in the '30s. It was then just a desk in the office of the
        B'nai B'rith, (Sons of the Covenant), a fraternal order established in the
        19th century by immigrants from Germany. The order represented the American
        Jewish upper class, which didn't come over to Zionism until its acceptance
        by Washington in 1948, after the Holocaust.

        Today, the ADL is the public face of B'nai B'rith, but in the '30s, the
        order spoke for the ADL. Now the ADL pretends to be the shock troops in the
        fight against anti-Semitism, but readers of this 1933 editorial statement
        will see why it never dares to mention what it did against Hitler, and the
        surge of American Jew-hatred, in the wake of Hitler's 1933 triumph.

        The document takes on special relevance now, as the ADL scandalizes the Jews
        of the world as it prepares to give an award to Italian Prime Minister
        Silvio Berlusconi, who has just announced that "Mussolini never killed
        anyone, Mussolini sent people away on vacation, in internment," when, in
        reality, he helped Hitler murder thousands of Italian Jews.

        The text below can be found in 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the
        Nazis, Edited by Lenni Brenner and published by Barricade Books.]

        "B'nai B'rith and the German-Jewish Tragedy," B'nai B'rith Magazine,
        May 1933.

        Criticism is heard: B'nai B'rith did not join the public protests against
        the German-Jewish tragedy! The power of B'nai B'rith was not exploited
        sufficiently in the public press! What an opportunity B'nai B'rith had to
        keep its fame on the front pages in this crisis!

        Such things have been said.

        The members of this organization have cause to be proud of their affiliation
        with a Jewish body that obscured its own prestige in order to serve its
        German brethren the better. Not the glory of B'nai B'rith but the safety of
        German Jews was paramount at the moment and quietly B'nai B'rith moved to
        the defense of these brethren through the strong hand of the State

        What was the position of American Jewry in the tragic hour? It was as if a
        robber had entered one's house and seized one's child and held it for a
        shield... "You shoot at me and you kill your child!"

        What does a man do in such a pass? Shoot? He puts aside his pistol. He
        considers other means of meeting the crisis.

        With the Hitler government threatening reprisals against Jews, should B'nai
        B'rith have rushed forward with loud protests? In the eyes of the unthinking
        this might have enhanced the prestige of Bınai Bırith... "How courageous is
        B'nai B'rith!" they might have said.

        B'nai B'rith puts aside the opportunity for valor (5,000 miles from the
        scene of danger!) and with what power is in its hand and in co-operation
        with other Jewish agencies, set in motion the diplomatic efforts that are
        already historic. Aye, B'nai B'rith might have thrown itself alone into the
        breach so that it could be said of it, "Singlehanded this organization
        battles for the rights of Jewry." But B'nai B'rith greatly desires unity in
        Israel and it marched with other organizations and still so marches.

        If there has not been complete unity in Israel in this crisis, it is no
        fault of B'nai B'rith.

        Weeks before the German-Jewish tragedy became the pain of all Jewry, B'nai
        B'rith, conscious of forebodings, took steps, met with the leaders of other
        organizations, considered what was best to do, having always in mind that
        nothing ought to be done that would endanger rather than mitigate the
        unhappy situation of the German Jews.

        This policy directs and will continue to direct every move of B'nai B'rith
        acting in co-operation with the American Jewish Committee. We have no
        quarrel with other organizations that went their own way to make public
        protest. We believe, however, that time will show that the policy of B'nai
        B'rith is founded on better wisdom. We regret that in the momentous hour
        American Jewry is not united.

        Even those who were at first hot for public protest have come to see that
        discretion is the better part of valor in an hour when lives are in the
        balance. They have announced that "In deference to the wishes of the State
        Department" they "refrain from making (further) comment on the tragic
        situation of the Jews in Germany."

        For B'nai B'rith there was, besides, a poignant special cause to restrain it
        from action that might seem rash in the moment. It has fraternal ties with
        many Jews in Germany where the finest of Jewry is included in the membership
        of B'nai B'rith. Hostile public words or actions by B'nai B'rith in America
        might have reflected dangerously on the B'nai B'rith of Germany of whom it
        might have been said by their enemies, "They have instigated their fellow
        members in America against us."

        The conscience of B'nai B'rith could never have acquitted itself had any
        ill-considered action by the Order in America caused injury to our brethren
        in Germany.

        And what of the future? It may be answered that B'nai B'rith in co-operation
        with the American Jewish Committee is alert; that things are being carefully
        done; that perfect unity of speech and action exists between the B'nai
        B'rith and the American Jewish Committee.

        If the Jews desire the unity of all Israel in America in the presence of
        this tragedy they can have it by demanding it of the organizations that
        represent them. As for B'nai B'rith, it feels that its action in this crisis
        will make a worthy chapter of its history.