WASHINGTON-( – A ruling by a federal judge in Denver March 31 which upheld most of a year-old $10 million jury finding that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) libeled a couple by falsely portraying them as anti-Semites may at last call into question the group’s heretofore unassailable reputation as the sole “defender of the Jews” in America.

District Judge Edward Nottingham lambasted the 87-year-old organization in a 46-page order and memorandum of decision, according to the Jewish weekly newspaper Forward in its April 13, 2001 edition, saying the organization had falsely endorsed and publicized accusations of bigotry in a nasty neighborhood dispute without either investigating the case or weighing the consequences.

“Based on its position and history as a well-respected civil rights institution, it is not unreasonable to infer that public charges of anti-Semitism by the ADL will be taken seriously and assumed by many to be true without question,” the judge wrote. “In that respect, the ADL is in a unique position of being able to cause substantial harm to individuals when it lends its backing to allegations of anti-Semitism.”


Conservative economist Jude Wanniski applauded the judge’s ruling, writing in a memo to his “Jewish friends” that he was “delighted” to read about the judge’s ruling. “If you have been following my memos for any length of time, you know I have been calling the Anti-Defamation League the ‘Defamation League,’ precisely because of its practice of stamping the ‘anti-Semitic’ label on people who insist they are not anti-Semitic,” he wrote.

Jay Horowitz, the attorney who represented William and Dorothy Quigley in the dispute that erupted in the affluent suburb of Evergreen, Colo., went even further in his condemnation of the group.

“The ADL seized an opportunity to aggrandize itself as the defender of the Jews by unjustly accusing a middle-class couple of being anti-Semitic crooks,” attorney Horowitz is quoted as saying in the Forward. “And all along they showed an unbelievable arrogance.”

The ADL said it would appeal the decision.

The ruling comes at the same time ADL National Director Abraham Foxman recently declared that he “probably” made a mistake in writing a letter to President Clinton urging the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, after receiving some $250,000 in contributions over the past 15 years.

Furthermore, a group of Arab American, Black and Native American groups filed a lawsuit against the ADL in 1993 claiming the ADL paid a former San Francisco Police officer and a CIA agent to spy on them. After the surveillance information was obtained, it was shared with the white apartheid government of South Africa, as well as with the government of Israel, according to reports.

The ADL settled the suit, agreeing to pay $200,000 in plaintiffs’ legal fees and set up a $25,000 community relations fund.

The unfair treatment of the Quigley family is not an unusual tactic of the ADL.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, has similarly been unfairly accused of anti-Semitism, and has seen every effort to meet with Jewish leaders rebuffed by the ADL, according to Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard F. Muhammad.

“I have made many efforts over the years on behalf of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan to get them to sit down,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call.

ADL officials have never agreed to meet with Minister Farrakhan, he said, and “other Jewish leaders have agreed to meet, only to cancel the meeting when they’ve been contacted by the ADL, who want to intimidate and control” the dialogue between Jews and those the group has chosen to target.

Mr. Wanniski agrees. “The ADL has made a game of portraying the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan as being anti-Semitic, to the point where a majority of white Americans believe that nonsense,” he wrote.

“I’ve gotten to know Min. Farrakhan like a brother over the last five years and know that he has made repeated attempts to find reconciliation with the ADL and the leaders of the Jewish community. He is a Muslim and has an appreciation of the Palestinian point of view in the Middle East, but that does not make him anti-Semitic.

“He invited me and my wife Patricia to his World Islamic Conference in Chicago in 1997 and said we could wander in and out of any of the workshops or plenary sessions. We never heard a single word that I would consider to be anti-Semitic, and as I had grown up a Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood of Brooklyn, I would certainly know anti-Semitism if I sniffed it,” he wrote.