Excerpts of Anti-Defamation League leader says Mormons and Jews have a lot in common by Lynn Arave, Deseret News
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the ADL, was in Utah last week and told the Deseret News editorial board Thursday morning that he had learned a lot during his meeting with six apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We have a lot in common, Jews and Mormons," he said.
He said a group of Mormons visited him a few years ago but this was his first time in Salt Lake, outside of a few brief airport layovers.
He said he told LDS Church leaders, "We can maybe help you."
That's because he believes both Jews and Mormons suffer prejudice and bias — mostly from ignorance.
He said the LDS Church also lacks a voice on the outside, such as the Jews have with the ADL.
He said Mormons and Jews need to become closer and that mutual understanding is a good first step to better relations.
Foxman admitted that the Mormon proxy baptism doctrine — which was discussed with church leaders this week — is still a troubling issue for him. But he said, "We understand each other better. We will continue the conversation."
The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.
He said that a "perfect storm" exists right now because of three factors: the election of an African-American as president; immigration issues; and the economic crisis.
When Foxman began his ADL career, he said polls estimated that one in three Americans were anti-Semitic. Today it is down to 14 percent — though that still equals about 35 million Americans. What's more, Foxman said, 2009 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents worldwide since the ADL has been keeping records.