Thu, Dec 8, 2005 7:36pm EST

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AFA's Don Wildmon: If ADL's Foxman criticizes religious right, some of them "won't support Israel anymore"

Summary: Don Wildmon of the American Family Association suggested that if Anti-Defamation League President Abraham Foxman continued to criticize the religious right, some of its members "won't support Israel anymore."

Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association (AFA), used the occasion of the December 5 broadcast of AFA Report, his daily program on AFA-operated American Family Radio (AFR), to suggest that some members of the religious right would withdraw support for Israel if a prominent activist against anti-Semitism did not cease his criticism of it.

During the broadcast, Wildmon stated that Anti-Defamation League (ADL) President Abraham H. Foxman "got himself kind of in a bind" by criticizing the religious right. "[T]he strongest supporters Israel has are members of the religious right -- the people he's fighting," Wildmon said. "[T]he more he says that 'you people are destroying this country,' you know, some people are going to begin to get fed up with this and say, 'Well, all right then. If that's the way you feel, then we just won't support Israel anymore.' "

Wildmon's remarks came after Foxman, in a November 3 address to an ADL meeting, listed AFA among a group of conservative religious organizations whose "goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America." reported Foxman's remarks on November 29. On December 5, Foxman and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, convened a meeting of American Jewish leaders to discuss what Foxman termed the religious right's effort to "Christianize America." In his December 5 broadcast, Wildmon discussed the New York meeting with three AFA staff members.

Later in the broadcast, Wildmon stated that "20 years ago ... when B'nai Brith ... complained about anti-Semitic [sic], some people paid attention to 'em. Really, today, not that many people pay attention to 'em."

B'nai Brith, a leading Jewish organization, founded ADL in 1913.

AFA's American Family Radio is a network of nearly 200 radio stations across the United States whose stated mission is to "inform Christians about what is happening in America." AFA also publishes the AFA Journal, a monthly magazine "full of information that will keep families informed about cultural trends, important issues, boycott information, and even television programming."

From the December 5 broadcast of American Family Radio's AFA Report, which also featured AFA Journal associate editor Rusty Benson, AFR news director Fred Jackson, and AFA Journal news director Ed Vitagliano:

WILDMON: We talked last week -- I think it was last week, the week before last -- Abraham Foxman. Anybody know who Abraham Foxman is or remember us talking about him?

JACKSON: Anti-Defamation League.

WILDMON: He's national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which is a Jewish organization. And Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, have set a meeting today in New York, and their discussion is how to stop the religious right, because they say that the religious right is threatening to destroy America. He says, "They are better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized, and organized -- of coalitions of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before." In other words, he's saying, Fred, that you three fellows sitting here -- now I'm excluded, I'm not like what he's talking about -- you're a danger to the Jews in this country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fred, is the Anti-Defamation League -- are they a very high-profile group these days?

JACKSON: You hear from them. I mean, the mainstream media will go to them for comments, like Mr. Foxman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you expect -- expect after this get-together for him to be on CNN or Fox or wherever?

JACKSON: Possibly, but you know, he doesn't get a lot of profile.

WILDMON: You know, he's got himself kind of in a bind, because the strongest supporters Israel has are members of the religious right, the people he's fighting. He's got himself in a bind here. Because the more he says that "you people are destroying this country," you know, some people are going to begin to get fed up with this and say, "Well, all right then. If that's the way you feel, then we just won't support Israel anymore."

JACKSON: Well, thankfully, there are people like [Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation president] Don Feder, there are people like [radio host] Michael Medved. He has a great editorial in today's USA Today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe.

JACKSON: Jeff Jacoby. There are people like that, Jewish people like that who've come out and said, "Mr. Foxman is dead wrong, and you shouldn't even be listening to him 'cause we don't feel the way he does."

WILDMON: You know, 20 years ago, people kind of feel -- when B'nai Brith, the organization here -- same organization -- complained about anti-Semitic [sic], some people paid attention to 'em. Really, today, not that many people pay attention to 'em.

Comments (18)

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  • Hey Donald...

    I think Israelis are getting fed up with your Rapture-nutcases.

    • Israel is no friend of progressives

      Why do we care about this? Why is it mentioned? Is Media Matters assuming we're Israel supporters? I for one am most absolutely NOT a supporter of Israel.

    I support media matters because I support US and Israel

    In response to a comment regarding supporting Israel, I have three thoughts: first, I support both the US and Israel, and I do so by supporting Media Matters because undistorted, factual news is critical to any informed support on any subject; second, supporting the US cannot stop at our borders, because what we think and do effects others in the world and what others in the world think and do effects the US; third, the abuse demonstrated by AFA's Wildmon, if not checked, will grow to effect everyone. I would offer one additional thought: factual awareness of the plight of Israel, its history, its present, and its threats, would lead all unbiased observers to support it -- and I would not make this statement if the comment did not imply that abandoning Israel and American Jewry is somehow okay.

    • Oh Please!

      >>I would offer one additional thought: factual awareness of the plight of Israel, its history, its present, and its threats, would lead all unbiased observers to support it

      I know all about Israel's history, how it stole land from indigenous people much like the white settlers stole land from Native Americans. I also know how Israel illegally attacked Egypt in '56 and invaded Lebanon in '82. I do not support these actions, and I am part of the whole rest of the world--every single country--that condemns Irael's expanionist policies.

      MMFA should not be supporting Foxman, who spreads his own disinformation as bad as O'Reilley, calling anyone who doesn't agree with Israel's expanionist policies anti-semitic. Foxman was also succesfully sued for spying on peace groups. What a nice guy.

    American Jewry and Israel did not support the Iraq War

    Sorry to have to act like a monitor, but I feel obligated to correct the implication of a recent post regarding Jewish support for the Iraq War. While it true that a couple of Bush's neocons are Jewish - not the one's in charge, but advisors (and, interestingly, most have since moved on) - polling has consistently found that American Jewry always has been and continues to be against the Iraq War in greater percentages then the whole of the American populace, and the Israeli government warned the US against going to war in Iraq (for exactly the reasons that the US is now in a tight spot there).

    • I heard this

      I had heard this as well, that the majority in the Jewish community were against the invasion of Iraq; but there is this perception that the converse is true and that probably is because there are a large number of Jewish neocons that supported "restructuring" the Middle East through invasion of Iraq. I think democratization of the area was a great concept, but I think it could have been encouraged and actuated through peaceful means. This incontestably would have taken longer, but any governmental model change would probably be more sustainable if Middle Easterners were the ones spearheading it; and if a war over this ensued it would have been their fight and not one America imposed on them.

    Well, now we know

    Well, now it's obvious that the only reason Don Wildmon feels the Religious Right should support Israel is as leverage to get the Jewish community not to criticize the AFA and other Religious Right groups. ("hey guys, lets support Israel. Since everyone knows that's all Jews care about, they will look the other way while we Christianize America.....oh wait, they're not looking the other way, well then, we'll show them!")

  • disappointment with media matters readers who don't use facts

    Regarding the comments of Funnymanpants and Mr. Linley, I am at a loss to provide complete cogent responses when facts obviously do not appease. Regarding the history of Israel, for more background - which is clearly in great need - please feel free to use pretty much any basic or advanced text: heck, try wikipedia. Regarding "the mass media which is ran (sic) by the Jewish people conditioned the American publice (sic)," I can only marvel that you are a reader of Media Matters yet have no respect for truth and repeat baseless prejudiced canards. May I ask, do you two just read whatever you want and then spit out what you don't like? If so, I suggest you save yourselves the time and just make stuff up because it will have the same net effect.

  • Israel, Jews and the Iraq War

    So Jezzdog, when you ask "why do we care about this?" what do you mean by "we"?

  • POWERFUL Jews support the war 100%

    The Jews working with the Apocalyptic right wing "Christians" are being set up to take all the blame for this war. The non-powerful Jewish people voting against the war? I never saw such a vote taken. If they voted for Kerry, was he against the war? Clinton? Hahahaha. Yeah. So far, there has been no anti-war candidates running for office in places where there are lots of Jewish people, note NY and NJ and Conn. All have substantial populations who are Jewish and the senators and many representatives all are 100% pro war and they give pro war speeches to the Likud right wing Jewish organizations and then everyone else votes for Hillary and Lieberman so this clap-trap about anti-Iraq war Jewish voters is fake or maybe they are against the war but only vote for pro-war, pro-Israel politicians? See what is happening? We can't support fascism in Israel, we can't support a RELIGIOUS state that honors, encourages, funds and protects only one religion while abusing all others and not expect this to happen here in America. Namely, the right wing Christians want to turn America into Fundie Christian Israel which means religious discrimination, religious bigotry, religious dictatorial powers, only people of a chosen religion may emigrate, etc. Israel is a disaster for democracy just as much as Saudi Arabia or other mono-religious entities that wed church and state.

  • how about some subtlety?

    1. most u.s. christians are against the war in iraq. 2. an even larger percentage of u.s. jews are against the war in iraq. 3. rightwing u.s. christians and jews, and rightwing israelis, use religious arguments to build support for rightwing policies. so maybe it's better to build opposition to the war in iraq without raising religion? 4. blanket approval *and* blanket condemnation of israel play into rightwing hands. 5. contrary to media portrayal (and some comments here) most u.s. jews oppose rightwing israeli policies, but lack strong organizational channels for that opposition. 6. adl/foxman and especially urj/yoffie seem to offer new opportunities for building progressive political options for u.s. jews. 7. one reasonable goal would be to encourage as wide a range of political debate about the middle east here in the u.s. as occurs in israel. this would undercut rightwing hegemony in the u.s. 8. another reasonable goal would be to cut the u.s. jewish republican vote by 50% in the 2006 elections. surely the religious right has unmasked itself enough by now to do that.

  • Mr. Funny "know all about Israel History" Manpants.

    The first accounts on Israel can be found in Ancient Egyptian accounts related to counquers as back as 1500 BCE. Jewish Kingdoms existed between 1200 BCE and the conquest by the Romans. After the Romans came the Byzantine, Persian, Eastern Roman, and Ottoman empires. The Jewish population always existed in that area, fluctuating according to the persecutions suffered in and outside of Israel. Before WWII there were already plans to establish a Jewish state, some with and some without the inclusion of Arabs. All that is part of Israel's History, not only what happened since 1948. I'm not even going to get to much into the differences between what happens in the Middle East and what happened to the Native Americans. It's just too lame of a comparison. Native Americans were not only robbed of their land, their were decimated by violence and disease, forcibly converted religiously and culturally. The Palestinians suffer with violence and poverty not only because of Israel, but mostly because its leadership is filled with corruption and greed just like most governments in this world. Yasser Arafat died and left his millions to his family who lives in Paris like aristocrats not to the Palestinian people. There are many ethnical and religious groups around the world that don't have a country of their own, i.e. the Kurds, that doesn't mean that the land where their History and tradition orginates from is not their land by right. The Palestinians have the right to have a country and Israel has the right to exist in peace.

  • What does it mean to "support Israel"

    I'm an Jew who how has worked hard to protest the Iraq war (including traveling to Florida to defeat Bush) and who supports the right of Israel to exist (not a question most countries need to face). I am opposed to many of the right-wing policies of the Isreali government concerning the treatment of Palestinians and peace negotiations.

    So what does it mean to support Israel?

    I do no want fundamentalist Christians to "support" the worst of Israel's policies, but I am outraged by the thought that they might question support for the very existence of Israel.
    One can say that they do not support a country, like France because of its policies, but no one questions whether they support the right of France to exist and defend itself. The situation of Israel is different in that there are many people, including the head of nearby countries seeking nuclear capabilities (Iran) who strongly assert that Israel does not have the right to exist and to defend itself.
    In this context, what does it mean to support or not support Israel?

  • Gavroche makes a good point

    Even aside from the question of whether it's right to "support Israel" (whatever that means), Gavroche makes an important point. This is a case of blackmail by the Christian right, or at least by one of the leaders of the Christian right. For that reason it is very much the concern of Media Matters.

  • Political dissent against Israeli policies and actions does not equal Anti-Antisemitism!

    Political dissent against Israeli policies and actions does not equal Anti-Antisemitism! People expressing their religious beliefs in public, on public property, does not constitute government imposition of religion upon those with differing beliefs. The concept of "Separation of church and state" meant and means the church shall not control the government, as it did in Europe and England for nearly two millennium. I regretfully voted for Bush twice. As a genetic democrat, but reluctant Republican. The Democratic party abandoned me, (A white male), years ago, creating the “Effeminization of America”. My reason for voting Republican was to counter Affirmative Action AS IMPLEMENTED. Not meaning to digress from the point; The mass media and AIPAC, (, continually assault the precepts upon which America was rooted and founded, Christianity. The media continually spins the news and AIPAC has it's hand deep in your pocket for the single purpose of ever increasing American support of Israel, whether Israel be right or wrong.

    • The Jews are to Blame for Everything

      The mass media and AIPAC, (, continually assault the precepts upon which America was rooted and founded, Christianity.

      No, I don't think so. The founding fathers would have found this view very foreign. Nowhere did they ever state that this country was a Christian country founded on Christian beliefs. In fact many were "Deists" who would have objected strongly to the O'Reilly's views of how Christmas should be celebrated.

      Reminds me of the good old days when the Jews were blamed for being god-less communists and for being money-grubbing capitalists, at the same time. Today, people on the right blame the Jews for the destruction of Christmas and people on the left blame the Jews for causing the War in Iraq.

      • Our Founding Fathers and the War on Christmas

        simahdan, your mistaken views about the Founding Fathers makes in clear that you probably don't understand the reference in my previous post to Deism.

        Deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject both organized and revealed religion and maintain that reason is the essential element in all knowledge.

        Deism was championed by Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and some of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are among the most well-known of the American founding deists. Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason, a treatise that popularized deism throughout America and Europe. (thanks to

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