The looming threat to Middle East peace activism
As politicians and the Anti-Defamation League call for crackdowns on Middle East peace protesters, the ADL’s undue influence within the FBI as a trainer is finally exposed.
by Grant F. Smith
The Department of Justice released the Anti-Defamation League’s Basic Field Training Course (PDF). The course is mandatory for all FBI New Agent Trainees (NATs) and New Intelligence Analyst Trainees (NIATs). This release follows a decade of Freedom of Information Act requests and denials by the Department of Justice (PDF) and evasion by publicly funded content contributors.
The ADL course is developed and conducted by Anti-Defamation League (ADL) instructors. It selects materials from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Marcus Appelbaum, Museum Director of Law, Justice and Society Initiatives in 2014 resisted any public review of the curriculum, stating, “Unfortunately we do not randomly send out the curriculum.” Appelbaum also denied that any of the large amounts of U.S. taxpayer funding supporting the museum paid for the curriculum.
The ADL course facilitates a discussion of the USHMM video The Path to Nazi Genocide by asking trainees to watch and then consider “the challenges that police officers faced, and decisions they made in Germany during the Nazi era.” The video depicts the rise of Nazi Germany from WWI to the final WWII liberation of concentration camps replete with emaciated images of the dead and barely living.
The final question the video puts to agents in training is why the word “genocide” had to be coined in the aftermath. “As the world struggled to understand what had happened, a new word, genocide, was needed for these crimes — crimes committed by ordinary people from a society not unlike our own.”
The ADL training also requires viewing the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize: No Easy Walk. Supplemental reading exposes new FBI agents to the bureau’s past role undermining Martin Luther King Jr. and documents Bull Connor’s relentless fire hosing and mass arrests of black protesters engaged in civil disobedience. The video ends with the triumphant 1963 March on Washington and JFK’s proposal for a Civil Rights Act.
Taken in context, the entirety of the Basic Field Training Course makes it clear that FBI trainees are ADL subordinates who must strive to meet with its approval. Page 9 of the guide even states, “as a new hire, we would like you….”
The unstated purpose of the course is positioning Israeli activities in the US and the ADL itself outside the purview of law enforcement and especially FBI counterintelligence. The ADL today is framed as trusted trainers and civil rights partners. That was not always the case. The ADL’s current privileged insider role training all new FBI special agents is the result of a secretive influence campaign that began more than eight decades ago. Internal FBI files about that campaign reveal the ADL’s true reasons for infiltrating the FBI.
In 1940 the ADL launched an intense effort to liaise with the FBI by offering a list of undercover ADL investigators to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI was reluctant to accept the ADL list. One FBI special agent told Hoover he found a proposed investigator resource to be “mentally unbalanced.” Others offered up by ADL, such as longtime political campaign donation bundler Abraham Feinberg, was known to the FBI as a WWII surplus conventional weapons smuggler for Israel and alleged unregistered foreign agent. Feinberg later financed Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.
The ADL offered to investigate persons of interest to the FBI. FBI Assistant Director P. E. Foxworth nixed that idea, telling Hoover the ADL was engaged in “shakedowns” of “loyal and innocent” Americans and “interested only in their own material benefit…”
This did not keep the ADL from announcing in 1942 it had conducted “373 investigations” on behalf of the FBI. This prompted Hoover to respond that private investigative agencies had “no excuse for existence” and that the FBI “had never asked the ADL to conduct an investigation.” On June 30, 1943, Luigi S. Crisculo, an American investment banker involved in Italian American causes, reported being baited by Anti-Defamation League operatives who claimed to be “unofficial auxiliaries of the Department of Justice” and were attempting to link him to Nazism.
The ADL also wanted to directly seed its operatives into the FBI. Arnold Forster (AKA Fastenberg) began developing ADL’s legal team in 1938 while simultaneously applying to become an FBI special agent in 1937 and 1939. Forster was formally rejected because in the view of the FBI he “dressed poorly, did not appear resourceful and would probably not develop.” Forster then became ADL’s chief investigator in 1940 and held formal and informal positions until 2003. Another longtime ADL investigator and operative named Frank Prince even campaigned to replace Hoover as FBI director. When caught out in 1942, the ADL offered to “disband within 24 hours.” The FBI did not take the ADL up on this offer since “we [the FBI] are not running the Anti-Defamation League.”
Throughout the 1940s the ADL continuously lobbied FBI field offices for meetings and joint events which befuddled some bureau insiders. One special agent in command reported to Hoover he could not “understand the insistence of the ADL that a representative of this Bureau address this group.” He felt, “there is some ulterior motive that causes them to be so insistent.”
One ADL motive was gaining privileged access to FBI files. In 1944 ADL’s Nissan Gross asked to periodically check FBI files to avoid “duplication of investigation.” Special Agent in Command Drayton rebuffed the ADL because “under the procedure…ADL would have an opportunity to learn of the informants being utilized…and those under investigation.”
In 1968 FBI Director J Edgar Hoover finally dropped his longstanding opposition and ordered field offices “to immediately make certain that you have established liaison with the head of the ADL regional office in your territory…” Such liaisons continue to this day. Since then, joint public events, training sessions and even FBI director “love letters” to the ADL have been ongoing.
Given its insider status at the FBI, growing piles of Palestinian corpses in Gaza and resultant mass protests and civil disobedience in the U.S. may not be a challenge for the ADL which, along with other nodes of the Israel affinity ecosystem, works to censor open debate and protests of concern to Israel. As an FBI trainer, the ADL has finally transcended scrutiny. The FBI previously, acting on credible evidence, investigated ADL for domestic spying before political pressure on former Attorney General Janet Reno quashed the investigation. Such investigations of the ADL today would be unthinkable.
Even before the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israel and Israel’s attack on Gaza and settler rampages in the West Bank, the ADL was seeding the FBI with false threat reports conflating peaceful US based Palestinian rights groups with white nationalist movements.
ADL statistics and reports also attempt to reframe pro-Palestinian protests and civil disobedience in the United States as Antisemitism and “hate crimes” rather than anything resembling legitimate Civil Rights era nonviolent action. Under its forced “liaison” with the ADL, the FBI must pay close attention to and respond to all the ADL’s false and misleading allegations lest other nodes of the Israel affinity ecosystem work in concert to threaten its funding, political appointees or mundane issues such as a new headquarters.
The ADL and Israel lobby ecosystem acted quickly to compel Congressional “genocide threat” hearings—focused not on the reality of tens of thousands of dead in Gaza, but rather the discomfort felt by American Zionist students at elite Ivy league universities encountering campus cease fire rallies.
Following the ADL worldview, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently alleged that pro-Palestinian protesters picketing her home were acting on behalf of Russia and China and demanded that the FBI investigate them as foreign agents.
It is ironic that Pelosi, who has benefited all her career from support from AIPAC, an Israeli foreign influence operation set up with $60 million in foreign funds laundered into the US in the 1950s and 1960s, hurls foreign agent accusations at peaceful protesters.
However, the threat of looming FBI crackdowns, covert or overt, on protesters calling for Middle East peace should not be discounted given the ADL’s success infiltrating its worldview into the bureau. Although FBI Director Christopher Wray has promised the FBI will not investigate or surveil peaceful pro-Palestine protests, his promise leaves out entrapment operations. The pressure for the bureau to “get results” by seeding plots, weapons and entrap mentally unbalanced individuals in “Palestinian terror plots” may soon become overwhelming. Such “successes” would instantly gain uncritical, widespread mainstream media diffusion and touch off more congressional hearings for further operations and funds to Israel.
One certainty is that even as the International Court of Justice demands Israel refrain from violations of the Genocide Convention, the ADL will certainly not teach such relevant current day lessons to new generations of special agents.
Review primary sources referenced in this article at the Israel Lobby Archive.