This week on Behind the Headlines, Abe Foxman, the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, sits down with Times of Israel editor David Horovitz to discuss the political climate in America in the wake of the January 6 storming of the United States Capitol building by far-right extremists. They talk about the ramifications of the violent chaos that erupted in the heart of US democracy, and what it means for America, the US Jewish community, Israel and the world.
Foxman, who served as ADL head from 1987 to 2015, tells Horovitz that he hopes the tragedy serves as a “wakeup call to the American people that there is a threat. It’s domestic… and it’s bigger, deeper, wider, than most Americans believe and accept.”
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“I think it’s important for us to realize how many vigilantes, how many paramilitary [groups], racists and anti-Semites this country has,” Foxman says in the interview. “When I was at the ADL, we took the pulse of hatred in this country, and I don’t think there are 70 million racists and bigots in this country who supported Donald Trump. But there are millions.”
“Every time we took polls, we found 10-12% of the American people deeply infected with anti-Semitism. That’s 30 million people. When our polls indicated that 30% of the American people still believe that we’re responsible for killing Christ, that’s 100 million Americans,” he says.
In addition to the unseen depth of the streak of prejudice running through America, the internet allows misinformation to travel at record speeds, giving voice to some of the country’s most rabid extremists, Foxman notes.
With this perfect storm brewing in America, are the events at the US Capitol portentous of more to come? Foxman gives his thoughts on this, as well as what the US can do to start to tackle the problem. And, when asked to what degree US President Donald Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol building mayhem, he offers a robust answer.
Foxman also touches on what the Jewish state can do to tackle its own domestic prejudices, and talks about the degree of political fallout Israel may or may not suffer as a result of its close relationship with the Trump administration.
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