Through its 100-year history, the Anti-Defamation League has primarily focused combating anti-Semitism and bigotry both here and internationally, and now, as the organization prepares to celebrate its centennial, it continues to remain true to the mission statement forged many years ago.
That statement, which reads “the immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens,” is just as true today, even as the organization faces new issues and a shifting societal dogma as officials with the league prepare to celebrate the milestone.
The ADL will kick-off its 100-year celebration during its annual meeting in November in Chicago. More than 500 leaders will attend this meeting, with the focus on refining ADL’s agenda while providing updates on a litany of issues, including updates on global anti-Semitism, briefings on domestic prejudice, immigration reform and the security of Israel. A central issue will be how to best thwart threats from a nuclear-armed Iran.
“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to return to our birthplace of Chicago, and to honor and recognize the individual who saw the need for an organization that would not only defend Jews from discrimination, but would stand up and give a voice to all minorities who faced bigotry and hatred in America,” said ADL National Chairman Robert G. Sugarman. “As we mark our 100th anniversary and look back over ADL’s accomplishments through the years, we are all too aware that the anti-Semitism that spurred the creation of the league is still with is today, though in different forms and intensity.
“Sigmund Livingston would be proud of how much we accomplished, and yet would likely agree that our work is far from finished, and that anti-Semitism remains a current event a current event as much as it is a part of our history.”
The ADL was founded in 1913 when Livingston, then a prominent attorney in Chicago, banded together with other Jewish leaders to fight back against the anti-Semitism and bigotry of the day. Livingston started the ADL with a budget of $200, and the league has since grown to become one of the world’s largest civil rights organizations.
ADL Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware Regional Director Barry Morrison, in a recent visit with the Tribune’s Editorial Board, went into detail not only about the league’s history, but what the league intends to do moving forward, including beginning its second century with the theme, ”Imagine a World Without Hate.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us to look at ourselves and ask who are we, what have we done and where we are going and it is also a great opportunity to take stock. Secondly, it’s a good opportunity, since there’s something magical about the number 100, to take advantage of opportunity to tell other people what we are, what we stand for, what we’ve contributed, what we’ve accomplished and to give credit where it’s due and talk about alliances and coalition efforts,” Morrison said. “And I think, if you take a look at ADL over the decades and look at its priorities, it will tell you a lot about our country and its history and the challenges it faces and the challenges that still remain unfulfilled.”