Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the ADL, and Then Some


Posted by Richard Edmondson at 2/4/2013 3:13 PM

The article below mentions something that has kind of faded from public memory—that is a scandal that broke out in 1993 when an undercover operative for the Anti-Defamation League was discovered to have been spying on activist groups in the city of San Francisco. The operative’s name was Roy Bullock, a resident of San Francisco, who operated a small business in the city’s Castro District. Bullock would attend activist group meetings, pretend to be a supporter, and then pass information back to the ADL, and this apparently had been going on for a period of years. Also Bullock was working with a member of the San Francisco Police Department, an officer by the name of Tom Gerard, and the two were reportedly sharing information.

I was living in San Francisco at the time, and when the story broke it sent shockwaves through the community. I remember attending a community event one night at one of the city’s main venues and someone had erected a huge placard down by the stage—listing all the groups Bullock had spied upon. San Francisco, of course, has a plethora of different activist groups, embracing a variety of causes and issues, and just about every single group, not only in the city itself but in the wider Bay Area as well, was on the list that night. My assumption, and I guess the assumption of just about everyone in attendance that evening, was that the information exchange between Bullock and Gerard had been a two-way street—that is to say, that what Bullock learned from going to all the meetings he went to was made available to Gerard, while information about people’s arrest records and so forth was being passed on by the latter, and that presumably all this information was ending up in the hands of the ADL. This was, of course, less than a year after riots stemming from the Rodney King verdict. And the first US invasion of Iraq had occurred in the year just prior to that. And so between those two hugely significant events and the protests surrounding them (some of these demonstrations were quite gargantuan), I would say probably not just hundreds, but literally thousands of people were arrested. There was a lot of anger at the time at the San Francisco Police, and when the news of Bullock’s spying operation became public, the scope of peoples’ outrage widened to include the ADL as well. I mean at that time the putative “civil rights” organization’s name quite literally became mud in the city by the bay.

But the point I want to make—and the reason I’m bringing all this up—is that all this anger at the ADL for some reason did not transfer itself onto the state of Israel. In most peoples’ minds, the “ADL” and “Israel” were and remained separate entities. People did not equate one with the other, and of course the term “Sayanim” had not come into popular usage in those days. And so criticism of Israel then, when you heard it, tended to be subdued and soft pedaled. Unfortunately, this remains true today with a large part of the American left. When the Occupy Wall Street protests broke out a year or so back, it was rare to hear anyone mention Israel. And when on occasion someone did bring it up, they were usually either ignored or, in some cases, even told to shut up. But as the article below makes clear, the ADL can almost be viewed as one and the same with Israel, at least from the standpoint of its launching frontal attacks against anyone voicing criticism of the Jewish state. And as you’ll see, in playing its cards in this manner, the organization has aligned itself with some pretty racist and oppressive forces in American society. Much as it made common cause with the San Francisco Police Department years ago, it seems likewise to have formed an alliance with the New York Police today.

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