Abe Foxman has been at the center of many controversies over the years. Here are some of the most debated decisions that define his tenure at ADL.
n The New Anti-Semitism: His warning early in the second intifada that anti-Israel sentiment in Europe was morphing into a new form of anti-Semitism was prescient.
n Swastika Nuance: Saying the Nazi symbol wasn’t automatically a display of anti-Semitism was one of his most counterintuitive decisions. He argued that it had become a symbol of generalized hatred, and not always anti-Jewish.
n Tone-deaf on Armenian Genocide?: His back-and-forth on whether the Armenian tragedy from 1915 was indeed a genocide was widely criticized, though he argued that acknowledging it could have endangered Jews in Turkey and could have compromised Israeli-Turkish relations. The argument fell flat, especially coming from a Holocaust survivor.
n Mosque at Ground Zero: Backing the right of Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero — but not too near — was an example of his splitting the difference on thorny decisions.
n Most Operatic Compromise: He convinced the Metropolitan Opera to cancel the worldwide simulcast of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer” while stopping short of saying it was anti-Semitic (he also admitted he’d never seen the work). The Met’s decision irked both the artistic community and the Jewish right.
n The Passion of the Abe: His over-the-top criticism of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” may have helped spur box-office sales. And his prediction that the film would unleash widespread anti-Semitism never materialized.