Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and its public face for decades, has announced that he is to step down in July 2015. The date coincides with his fiftieth anniversary with the influential American Jewish organization.
In a letter published on the ADL website, Foxman wrote: "My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as National Director, could not have been more rewarding. ADL continued its growth as a highly respected and influential organization both here in the United States and across the globe. We have never lost sight of the fact that we are an organization whose first priority is to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people."
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He also paid tribute to the employees of the ADL, calling them the "most caring, knowledgeable and dedicated staff and I am proud to work alongside them."
Foxman has been a vocal supporter of equal rights, with the ADL frequently issuing statements condemning any form of racism or discrimination.
Foxman was born in the town of Baranovichi in 1940, in what is now Belarus. As an infant, Foxman was taken in by his Catholic nanny when his parents were ordered into the ghetto by the Nazis. He was baptized and renamed, and only returned to his parents after World War II.
In his resignation, Foxman wrote that, "Those experiences of long ago coupled with the lessons my parents taught me stayed with me my entire adult life and to this very day fuel my passion to fight for the safety and security of the Jewish people."
In September, Foxman spoke out against the racist attacks directed at the first Indian-American Miss America, comparing her treatment to that of Bess Myerson, the first Jewish winner of the competition.
“Ms. Davuluri’s platform of ‘celebrating diversity through cultural competency’ is a message that all Americans and people of good will should strive to emulate,” wrote the ADL chief in a statement.
Earlier this month, Foxman also took on an Israeli politician who accused Secretary of State John Kerry of being anti-Semitic.
Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker Motti Yogev had also told Israel Radio that Kerry had "anti-Israel roots". The two comments prompted Foxman to write to Yogev, admonishing him for going "beyond the bounds of legitimate critique." It was, he wrote, "simply indefensible to accuse him (Kerry) of harboring anti-Jewish beliefs."