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Abraham Foxman

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Title: Abraham Foxman  
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Subject: Economic antisemitism, Hannah Rosenthal, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Israel lobby in the United States, Tommy Thompson
Collection: 1940 Births, American Jewish Community Activists, American People of Belarusian-Jewish Descent, American People of Polish-Jewish Descent, Anti-Defamation League, Belarusian Jews, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, City College of New York Faculty, General and Operations Managers, Holocaust Survivors, Jewish Theological Seminary of America Alumni, Living People, New York University School of Law Alumni, People from Baranovichi, Polish Jews, Soviet Emigrants to the United States
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Abraham Foxman

Abraham Foxman
Foxman in January 2011
Born Abraham Henry Foxman[1]
(1940-05-01) May 1, 1940 [2]
Baranovichi, Soviet Union
Nationality American, Russian
Other names Henryk Stanislas Kurpi
Ethnicity Jewish
Known for Activism against antisemitism, former National Director of ADL
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Golda Bauman[3]

Abraham Henry Foxman (born May 1, 1940) is an American lawyer.[4] He is the former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.[5]


  • Early life 1
  • Education and career 2
  • Recognition 3
  • Political stances 4
    • Support for gay rights 4.1
    • Criticism of Mel Gibson 4.2
    • Armenian Genocide 4.3
    • Opposition to Park51 4.4
  • Books 5
  • Films 6
  • References 7

Early life

Foxman, an only son, was born in Baranovichi, just months after the Soviet Union took the town from Poland in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and incorporated it into the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The town is now in Belarus. Foxman had Polish Jewish parents: Helen and Joseph Foxman.[2][6]

Foxman's parents left him with his Polish Catholic nanny Bronislawa Kurpi in 1940 when they were ordered by Germans to enter a ghetto. Foxman was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as Henryk Stanislaw Kurpi, and raised as a Catholic in Vilnius between 1940 and 1944 when (after several legal custody battles) he was returned to his parents.[7]

Education and career

Foxman immigrated to the United States in 1950 with his parents.[6] He graduated from the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York City. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the City College of New York and graduated with honors in history. Foxman also holds a law degree from the New York University School of Law. He did graduate work in Jewish studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and in international economics at The New School.

Foxman joined the Anti-Defamation League in 1965 in its international affairs division. In 1987, he was the consensus choice of the Board to become its new National Director, replacing long-time director Nathan Perlmutter.[5][8] In February 2014, Foxman announced his plans to step down as National Director of the ADL effective July 20, 2015 (the fiftieth anniversary of his first having joined the ADL).


Foxman with Rick Sanchez in New York City

Foxman has been awarded several honors from nonprofit groups, religious figures and statesmen. In 1998 Foxman received the Interfaith Committee of Remembrance Lifetime Achievement Award "as a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination".[9] Foxman won the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Leadership Award on April 18, 2002, from the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey.[10]

On October 16, 2006, Foxman was awarded as Knight of the Legion of Honor by Jacques Chirac, the President of France at the time. This award is France's highest civilian honor.[11]

On a May 22, 2008, ceremony, Foxman was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Yeshiva University by Richard Joel, the presiding president of Yeshiva University.

Additionally, President Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Israel in May 2008.[12]

Political stances

Support for gay rights

Foxman's support for [13]

Criticism of Mel Gibson

Foxman has received criticism from Jewish and non-Jewish quarters for his antagonist approach to the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ and its director Mel Gibson.[14] In September 2003, during the pre-release controversy, Foxman called Gibson "the portrait of an anti-Semite".[15] The next day he said, "I'm not ready to say he's an anti-Semite", but that Gibson "entertains views that can only be described as anti-Semitic".[16] In November 2003, Foxman said of Gibson, "I think he's infected, seriously infected, with some very, very serious anti-Semitic views."[17] When Diane Sawyer asked him in February 2004 if Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite and whether The Passion of the Christ is an anti-Semitic movie, Foxman said no to both questions.[18] Foxman was also criticized for his initial response to Gibson's apology for his behavior during his 2006 DUI arrest and for giving second billing to the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting that occurred on the same day.[19] Foxman accepted Gibson's second apology, although he continued to censure Gibson publicly, saying in 2008, "In his heyday, he was No. 1 in Hollywood, the most sought-after star, the people's choice, the icon. Then he revealed himself as an anti-Semite, and look where he is today. That's the beauty of America."[20] Foxman continued to condemn Gibson for The Passion of the Christ, saying in 2008, "What he was doing was giving credibility, on film, in our lifetime, to deicide. Where is Mel Gibson today? He did his movie, and one day he revealed himself to the American people. He's no icon anymore."[21]

Armenian Genocide

In July 2007, Foxman's opposition to a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide drew much criticism. "I don't think congressional action will help reconcile the issue. The resolution takes a position; it comes to a judgment," said Foxman in a statement issued to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn't be the arbiter of that history, nor should the U.S. Congress." Sharistan Melkonian, chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, accused Foxman of engaging in "genocide denial" in an interview with The Boston Globe.[22] Various New England communities threatened to sever ties with the ADL-sponsored "No Place for Hate" program in response.[23] In August 2007, Foxman publicly affirmed the position of the Anti-Defamation League, "that the consequences of [the Ottoman government's] actions were indeed tantamount to genocide", but that a United States Congressional recognition of this history was unnecessary and not helpful.[24] He went on to state, "we continue to firmly believe that a Congressional Resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. We will not hesitate to apply the term 'genocide' in the future." Foxman additionally sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing regret over the difficulty his position caused for the government of Turkey: "We had no intention to put the Turkish people or its leaders in a difficult position."[25]

Opposition to Park51

Several critics have spoken against Foxman's opposition to the Park51 Islamic community center near World Trade Center site citing hypocrisy since ADL's mission statement says it seeks "to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens". Fareed Zakaria, a recipient of ADL's Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, has returned the prize and the $10,000 honorarium saying that he "cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it" and is returning both to ADL. Zakaria has "urged the ADL to reverse its decision".[26]


  • The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control, Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 1-4039-8492-1, ISBN 0-230-60404-8
  • Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 ISBN 978-0-230-62385-9
  • A Nation of Immigrants, John F. Kennedy (Foreword), Harper Perennial, ISBN 0-06-144754-4
  • Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-073069-2
  • Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet, written with Christopher Wolf, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013


Defamation (2009): Filmmaker Yoav Shamir profiles Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman in this documentary about antisemitism.[27]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths Bauman, Leah". The New York Times. 1997-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Abraham (Abe).Foxman". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  5. ^ a b "Abraham Foxman to Retire After 28 Years of Fighting Anti-Semitism". Retrieved 2015-07-28. 
  6. ^ a b Marquis' Who's Who in America, 60th Diamond Ed. (2006) 2: 1358.
  7. ^ "Biography of Abraham Foxman". Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  8. ^ "Abe". Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  9. ^ "Humanitarian Award Winners: Lifetime Achievement Award Winners: 1998", Interfaith Committee of Remembrance, accessed January 19, 2007.
  10. ^ "Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman is Recipient of Wallenberg Humanitarian Award", [press release]. Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Ramapo College. February 8, 2002. Accessed May 29, 2014.
  11. ^ "French President Chirac Urges Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism".  
  12. ^ "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert". The New York Sun. May 13, 2008. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  13. ^ As qtd. by Sharon Samber (for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency), "Jews Pained by Anti-Gay Scouts a Year After Court Ruling", The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California (formerly the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California), February 13, 2001, accessed January 19, 2007.
  14. ^ Rosenblatt, Gary (2004-03-05). "The Passion Of Abe Foxman; Was the ADL leader's aggressive criticism of Mel Gibson's film a major misstep?". The Jewish Week. 
  15. ^ Greenberg, Eric J. (2003-09-19). "'"Foxman: Gibson Spewing 'Anti-Semitism'; ADL leader says statements by 'The Passion' director 'paint the portrait of an anti-Semite.. The Jewish Week. 
  16. ^ Zoll, Rachel (2003-09-20). "Actor accused of anti-Semitism". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. 
  17. ^ William F. Jasper (2003-12-15). "Crucifying The Passion". The New American. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  18. ^ "Excerpts Diane Sawyer's interview with Mel Gibson, broadcast on February 16, 2004". 2004-02-16. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  19. ^ Chafets, Zov (2006-08-01). "Slurring more than his words". Los Angeles Times. 
  20. ^ Pine, Dan (2008-04-04). "Taking aim: ADL top gun keeps shooting down 'deadliest' anti-Semitic rhetoric". The Jewish news weekly of Northern California. 
  21. ^ Passman, Aaron (2008-10-02). "Hatred Finds New Home on Internet, says Foxman". Jewish Exponent. 
  22. ^ Keith O'Brien (January 8, 2007). "Antibias effort stirs anger in Watertown". The Boston Globe. 
  23. ^ O'Brien, Keith (2007-08-18). "ADL local leader fired on Armenian issue: Genocide question sparked bitter debate". The Boston Globe. 
  24. ^ O'Brien, Keith (2007-08-22). "ADL chief bows to critics: Foxman cites rift, calls Armenian deaths genocide". The Boston Globe. 
  25. ^ "'"ADL insistent on 'genocide claim. The Jewish Advocate. 2007-08-28. 
  26. ^ Fareed Zakaria (2010-08-06). "Fareed Zakaria: Build the Ground Zero Mosque - The Daily Beast". Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  27. ^ IMDB Defamation
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