Defamation League Chief Faces Challenge Trying To Renew Civil Rights Activism

Benjamin Epstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League, stands to the right of Martin Luther King Jr. in this photo with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson taken on June 22, 1963.

Benjamin Epstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League, stands to the right of Martin Luther King Jr. in this photo with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson taken on June 22, 1963. Abbie Rowe/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum hide caption

toggle caption Abbie Rowe/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The Jews who immigrated to America in the early 20th century brought with them their history as a persecuted people. Many were fleeing pogroms and anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, and those experiences bonded them to other groups that also faced discrimination.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), founded in 1913, was established by Jewish leaders to stop “the defamation of the Jewish people” but also “to put an end forever to unfair and unjust discrimination against … any sect or body of citizens.” That mission led to an early alliance with African-Americans, one that bore fruit in the civil rights movement.

“As I think about the work between the NAACP and the ADL, it is indeed an intersection in values, a convergence in interests,” said NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton, speaking at a recent ADL “leadership summit” in Washington. Shelton noted that Jewish civil rights activists Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi along with their African-American colleague James Chaney in 1964 while promoting African-American voting rights.

“I thank God for that leadership, and ADL was there too,” Shelton noted. A year later, ADL president Benjamin Epstein marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala.

In subsequent years, mostly under the leadership of ADL President Abraham Foxman, the League was focused primarily on fighting anti-Semitism, but the League’s new president, Jonathan Greenblatt, wants the ADL to renew its old civil rights activism and move the work forward.

“There’s questions like mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, economic opportunity,” Greenblatt told NPR in a recent interview. “We need to integrate what’s happening with the Latino community [and] the LGBT community, because when we fight for the rights of others, it strengthens America. It makes America a better place.”

There is just one complication. For many current civil rights activists, solidarity with Palestinians is taking precedence over the old solidarity with American Jews.

“Many of our experiences of police repression and brutality seem to mirror that of many international peoples, including [people in] Palestine,” says Rev. Mike McBride, a prominent African-American pastor from Berkeley, Calif., who became involved with the Black Lives Matter movement after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“When we were in Ferguson, and we were being terrorized by the law enforcement and military apparatus,” McBride says, “it was Palestinian young people who started to tweet us on how to survive and deal with the terror we were experiencing.”

McBride and other Black Lives Matter activists recently traveled to the Middle East to meet with Palestinians. He says they came away impressed by their “overlapping” experiences.

And it’s not just the Black Lives Matter movement that is drawn to the Palestinian struggle.

Earlier this year, a group of pro-Palestinian gay rights activists disrupted a meeting in Chicago of the National LGBTQ Task force, an umbrella organization that includes several groups that advocate for LGBTQ rights. A delegation from Israel was invited to the meeting, and the protesters took advantage of the occasion to condemn the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. About 200 marched through the meeting site, shouting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, occupation has got to go!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Kweisi Mfume, right, embraces Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman in Washington prior to a discussion entitled "Black/Jewish Relations and the Future of the East Civil Rights Movement" on April 22, 1996. Foxman led the ADL from 1987 to 2015.

NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Kweisi Mfume, right, embraces Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman in Washington prior to a discussion entitled “Black/Jewish Relations and the Future of the East Civil Rights Movement” on April 22, 1996. Foxman led the ADL from 1987 to 2015. Dennis Cook/AP hide caption

toggle caption Dennis Cook/AP

The task force executive director, Rea Carey, was forced to cancel the meeting, but not out of sympathy with the protesters. A few months later, she was among the speakers at the Anti-Defamation League leadership summit in Washington, promoting the cause of LGBTQ rights. The ADL’s longstanding support for Israel did not dissuade her from participating in the meeting.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned is that being in relationship is critical to working through conflict,” she told NPR. “It’s when we isolate ourselves that we end up getting in trouble.”

Alliance-building has clearly become more challenging. The ADL’s Greenblatt supports LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter, but the perceived intersection of those movements with the Palestinian cause is making his advocacy work more difficult.

“Increasingly, we’ve seen folks on campuses say, [with regard to] this intersectionality … ‘If we believe black lives matter, we therefore also must be anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian,’ ” he says. ” ‘Because we are for, you know, reproductive rights, we are against Israel.’ I mean, generally speaking, I find that specious. I think we need to look at each issue on its own and consider it on its own.”

For Greenblatt and others, the story of civil rights collaboration in the 1960s remains inspiring as an example of how leaders can work together across racial and religious lines. Huddling with Hilary Shelton of the NAACP during a break at the recent ADL conference, Greenblatt pulled up a photo on his cell phone. It was a picture taken in the White House Rose Garden in June 1963, shortly before the March on Washington. The ADL’s Epstein is standing alongside Martin Luther King Jr. , Robert F. Kennedy, NAACP executive director Roy Wilkins and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“That’s intersectionality,” Greenblatt told Shelton.

“And thank God for it,” Shelton said.

Greenblatt, 45, formerly a successful social entrepreneur and special assistant to President Obama, was not yet born when the picture was taken, but he uses it to promote the ADL’s continuing commitment to progressive causes that go beyond its traditional focus on anti-Semitism.

Among those Greenblatt invited to his recent leadership conference was Glenn Martin, who spent six years in prison in New York and now heads JustLeadershipUSA, an organization that fights mass incarceration, with special attention to young African-American men. Like Rea Carey, Martin says the ADL’s commitment to Israel did not keep him from attending the ADL’s leadership summit and appealing to its members for support. In an interview, he said he thinks it’s good for the ADL members to be exposed to experiences they might not normally encounter.

“I’m invested in bringing the voice of people most impacted into a space where [other] people may not be hearing that truth and really challenging them on their privilege and access,” he said, “and whether or not their work has the values that their rhetoric suggests that it does. “

The new landscape of political activism was evident in Ferguson, Mo., in the days and weeks after the Michael Brown shooting. Activists from the Black Lives Matter movement, energized and angry, bitterly attacked the ADL over its connection with Israel. The ADL director in St Louis, Karen Aroesty, came away chastened by the experience and realizing that activists today have different expectations of their allies than their predecessors did.

“New anti-racism activists aren’t impressed by, ‘We marched with you in Selma,'” she says. “It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a long time ago.”

The solidarity work done today is around specific, concrete goals and problems. Aroesty notes that her ADL chapter in St. Louis assists the U.S. Attorney’s office in staffing its Hate Crimes Task Force. But given the disagreements on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even greater efforts may be necessary to make the Anti-Defamation League a consistently valued civil rights partner in a time of divided loyalties.

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Golden State To Face Cleveland In A Rematch Of The NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry poses next to the Western Conference finals trophy after the Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of the conference finals Monday night in Oakland. The Warriors won 96-88.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry poses next to the Western Conference finals trophy after the Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of the conference finals Monday night in Oakland. The Warriors won 96-88. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

toggle caption Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Stephen Curry knocked down yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Splash Brothers Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Now, Curry and Co. are playing for another NBA title – just as they planned since Day 1 of training camp in September.

Bring on LeBron James again.

“You appreciate how tough it is to get back here,” Curry said. “You’ve got to be appreciative of this accomplishment, and look forward to getting four more wins.”

The MVP scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, and also had eight assists. Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a Game 6 comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series. They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured its first championship in 40 years.

Game 1 is Thursday night in Oakland.

“We survived by the skin of our teeth,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were able to pull it out, and we’re moving on.”

His signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, Curry pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

With the Thunder trailing 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out. Curry made all three free throws, then that 3-pointer to seal it.

“This is who he is. Having a clutch performance in a Game 7, that’s Steph Curry,” Kerr said.

And Golden State’s beloved “Strength In Numbers” catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Kerr was needed in every way.

“No one ever had any doubt that we could get this done,” Draymond Green said. “People have seen teams down 3-1 before but they ain’t seen many. They’ve definitely never seen a 73-win team down 3-1.”

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Shaun Livingston’s breakaway, one-handed dunk late in the third provided a big lift off the Warriors bench.

Oklahoma City won Game 1 108-102 at deafening Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder.

“It hurts losing, especially being up 3 games to 1,” Durant said.

It took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after his 41-point performance in a 108-101 win Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series back to the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3 6:02 before halftime, energizing the Warriors in their first Game 7 at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry’s 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30 3s.

Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup and what a move by Kerr, who did the same thing last year in crunch time. Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Green for Golden State’s first basket, and his smothering defense on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first. Durant had just nine points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of its success this season. The Thunder couldn’t sustain it.

“They won a world championship last year, and they’ve broken an NBA record, and people are already talking about it before the playoffs started, this may be the greatest team to ever lace them up in the history of the NBA,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.

The Warriors, who fell behind 35-22, lost their last Game 7 at home: 94-86 to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals on May 16, 1976.

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Food Lion Co-Founder Dies; Chain Was Rocked By ABC News Report

The man who helped turn $50 investments in a North Carolina grocery store into the Food Lion chain with more than 1,100 stores across the Southeast has died.

Ralph Ketner, 95, died Sunday, according to a news release from the grocery store chain. No cause of death was given by Food Lion officials or the funeral home handling his arrangements.

Ketner successfully gambled that bigger sales by lowering prices to where profit margins were razor thin were the best path to success.

In 1957, he opened the Food Town grocery store in Salisbury, N.C., with two friends, calling people in the phone book and asking for $50 or $100 investments.

About 125 people gave him money, and that one store grew into the Food Lion chain with stores across the Southeast. With stock splits over the years, an investor who bought $28 in stock originally ended up with $1 million, according to Food Lion.

“He had a profound and lasting impact on the entire grocery industry and he has left a tremendous legacy not only at Food Lion, but through his philanthropy and kindness in the Salisbury community as a whole. Forever a welcome and vital part of our family, even at 95 years old, Mr. Ketner still attended several Food Lion events. Our associates adored and respected him and we will miss him dearly,” the company said in its statement.

Ketner remained loyal to Food Lion even after the grocery store was rocked by a 1992 hidden camera report by ABC News that showed employees selling spoiled meat.

Two producers got jobs with the grocery chain without revealing they were reporters. Food Lion sued and was awarded more than $5 million after a jury found the network liable for fraud. An appeals court lowered the verdict to $2, but still found ABC was liable for trespassing because the employees taped other workers without their knowledge.

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Food For Thought: The Subtle Forces That Affect Your Appetite

Kai Schreiber/Flickr

What do large tables, large breakfasts, and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets. First we hear from Adam Brumberg at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab about how to make healthier choices more easily (hint: good habits and pack your lunch!). Then, Senior (Svelte) Stopwatch Correspondent Daniel Pink returns for another round of Stopwatch Science to tell you about those tables, breakfasts, and servers. If you don’t like spoilers, stop reading and go listen to the episode!

Here are the studies:

  • You may have heard that smaller portions can help you eat fewer calories. That’s true. But what about larger tables? Researchers Brennan Davis, Collin Payne, and My Bui hypothesized that one of the ways smaller food units lead us to eat less is by playing with our perception. They tested this with pizza and found that while study participants tended to eat more small slices, they consumed fewer calories overall because it seemed like they were eating more. The researchers tried to distort people’s perception even further by making the smaller slices seem bigger by putting them on a bigger table. What they found is that even hungry college students at fewer calories of (free) pizza when it was chopped into tiny slices and put on a big table.
  • What about who’s around that big table? That seems to matter, too. Researchers found both men and women order more food when they eat with women but choose smaller portions when they eat in the company of men.
  • They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it may also be the most slimming. When researchers assigned two groups of overweight women to eat a limited number of calories each day, they found those who ate more at breakfast and less at dinner shed about twice as many pounds as the other group.
  • We often try to coax children into eating their vegetables by promising it helps them grow big and strong. Well, research suggests that’s the wrong tack. Michal Maimaran and Ayelet Fishbach ran several experiments looking at how the way food is described affects how much of it children eat. They found kids ate fewer carrots and crackers when the foods were described as nutritious rather than tasty.
  • Having a heavier waiter may subtly prompt you to eat more. That’s what Tim Döring and Brian Wansink found when they studied nearly 500 interactions between diners and servers. Diners ordered more items, more alcohol, and were four times as likely to order dessert when waited on by a heavier server.
  • Here’s some good news: cheating on your diet may not be such a bad thing! Researchers found dieters who planned to relapse every once in a while lost just as much weight as those who didn’t. What’s more, those who treated themselves were happier with their diet, which could help them to stick to it longer.

The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Kara McGuirk-Alison, Maggie Penman and Max Nesterak. Special thanks this week to Daniel Shuhkin. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, @karamcguirk, @maggiepenman and @maxnesterak, and listen for Hidden Brain stories every week on your local public radio station.

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