CNN host and Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria has returned a prestigious award given to him by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), saying he is “stunned” at their decision to oppose the construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero. From his column:
The 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.” But Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings. “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?
Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation.
On his CNN show this Sunday (which was pre-taped), Zakaria further says that he was “personally and deeply saddened” by the ADL’s stance. In a response letter to Zakaria, Foxman writes, “I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision.”