The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913. It describes itself as "the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry." .
- Espionage: Robert I. Friedman wrote in 1993:
- The ADL was established in New York City in 1913 to defend Jews, and later other minority groups, from discrimination. It led the fight against racist and fascist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, and in the 1960s championed the civil rights movement.
But there was also a darker side. In the late 1940s, the ADL spied on leftists and Communists, and shared investigative files with the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI. The ADL swung sharply to the right during the Reagan administration, becoming a bastion of neoconservatism. To Irwin Suall, a repentant Trotskyite who heads the ADL's powerful Fact Finding Department, the real danger to Jews is posed not by the right -- but by a coalition of leftists, blacks, and Arabs, who in his view threaten the fabric of democracy in America, as well as the state of Israel. In the tradition of his ideological soulmate William Casey, Suall directed the ADL's vast network of informants, who were given code names like "Scumbag," "Ironside," and -- for a spy reportedly posing as a priest in Atlanta -- "Flipper."
The ADL also has a history of espionage against US citizens who are critical of Israel. The plaintiffs of a case brought against the ADL write:
- In 1993, the District of Attorney of San Francisco released 700 pages of documents implicating the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that claims to be a defender of civil rights, in a vast spying operation directed against American citizens who were opposed to Israel’s policies in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza and to the apartheid policies of the government of South Africa and passing on information to both governments.
Under great political pressure, Smith later dropped the charges. One wonders what would have happened had an Arab-American or Muslim organization been caught spying with the names of 10,000 people and 600 organizations in their files.
Not only were critics of Israel under ADL’s surveillance,including thousands of Arab-Americans, but labor organizations such as the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, and the Oakland Educational Association, and civil rights groups such as the NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council and the Asian Law Caucus were also found in the "pinko" files of ADL’s undercover operative, Roy Bullock.
Moreover, Bullock, who had worked, off the books, for the ADL for more than 25 years, admitted that he had been reporting on the activities of black South African exiles and American anti- apartheid activists for South African intelligence.
Bullock, pretending to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, came to the founding meeting of the Labor Committee of the Middle in 1987 at the home of plaintiff Steve Zeltzer, having met Zeltzer at meetings of the Free Moses Mayekiso Defense Committee, a South African labor solidarity committee in which he also infiltrated under false pretenses.
Having been responsible for exposing Bullock as an ADL agent to the media, we joined together with other Bay Area activists in filing a suit against the ADL for violation of our privacy rights as provided in California law. Almost a decade later the suit has been settled with a significant cash payment by the ADL and, we wish to emphasize, without our signing any agreement for confidentiality which the ADL had previously demanded. Our efforts to expose the organization’s work in defending the policies of the Israeli government and stifling its opponents will continue, using new information gained in the pursuance of the suit.
ADL's espionage activities included inserting agent provocateurs/spies in targeted organizations, planting materials to tarnish the reputation of targetted organizations, maintaining large databases, spying on activists, and breaking and entering to steal computers.
Resources and articles
- See ADL History
- Robert I. Friedman, The Enemy Within, The Village Voice, 11 May 1993, Vol. XXXVIII No. 19. Village Voice synopsis: How The Anti-Defamation League Turned the Notion of Human Rights on Its Head, Spying on Progressives and Funneling Information to Law Enforcement.
- Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier and Steve Zeltzer, The ADL Spying Case Is Over, But The Struggle Continues, Counterpunch, 25 February 2002.
- Blankfort, ibid. Jeffrey Blankfort's house was broken into and his computer stolen.