From left: Steve Zimmer and Nick Melvoin

Charter schools the key issue as Jewish candidates seek LAUSD seat


Update: Steve Zimmer, LAUSD board president, conceded the May 16 runoff election for the District 4 seat, encompassing most of West Los Angeles and the West San Fernando Valley.

Ceding the race, Zimmer said he would not call his opponent, according to the Los Angeles Times. The contest between Zimmer, who has the support of unions, and Nick Melvoin, 31, backed by pro-charter school forces, was bitter at times, featuring sensational negative campaign ads and mailers.
 
Together with a win for pro-charter candidate Kelly Gonez in the Valley, Melvoin’s win signals a shift in favor of charter schools on the seven-member board. Election returns were not immediately available.


What normally might be a sleepy contest over a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board has instead become the latest proxy battle between teachers’ unions and charter schools.

The runoff between school board president Steve Zimmer, a longtime educator, and reform candidate Nick Melvoin has taken on an outsized significance and drawn record-setting campaign chests. Teachers’ groups, primarily United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), have worked toward electing Zimmer, while the California Charter Schools Association and other pro-charter forces have spent heavily for Melvoin. More than $7 million has been spent on the two candidates, records show.

The result is a race whose implications reach far beyond District 4, the Westside Los Angeles district the two men are competing to represent. All the major players — both candidates and the president of the teachers union, Alex Caputo-Pearl — are Jewish.

The two candidates face voters in a May 16 runoff after neither captured a majority of votes in a four-way primary in March. Zimmer came the closest with 47 percent, followed by Melvoin, with 33 percent.

To hear the teachers union say it, the race is about its very existence.

“It’s about whether we continue to have a civic institution of public education,” said Caputo-Pearl, standing outside the union’s Koreatown headquarters as a May Day march kicked off.

The march, he said, signaled the union’s participation in a national campaign “to resist all of the movements that we see coming out of the Trump administration.” Most presciently for the teachers is the fight against efforts, backed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to promote what supporters call school choice and opponents like Caputo-Pearl brand as privatization.

UTLA’s rhetoric proposes an axis that runs through President Donald Trump, DeVos, billionaires such as Eli Broad who dabble in education reform, and Melvoin, who in 2015 expressed support for a Broad proposal to put half of Los Angeles students into charter schools.

“They intend to create a school system that is not for all kids and is a privatized system,” Caputo-Pearl said.

In a statement, Melvoin disputed that characterization, saying L.A. Unified already is failing students by graduating 7 out of 10 students without basic math skills.

“To me, that’s not a district that’s serving all kids,” he said in the statement.

For his part, Zimmer describes a district that, while not perfect, is trending upward.

“I’m not saying we’re doing well enough, but we are doing better,” he told the Journal earlier this year. “An honest narrative is: This is a district that is improving.”

By contrast, in an op-ed in 2015, Melvoin asserted the district was ripe for a “hostile takeover.” UTLA took those as fighting words.

“Sounds a lot like Steve Bannon saying everything needs to be blown up,” Caputo-Pearl said, referring to the Trump administration adviser known for his disdain for big government.

Melvoin dismissed Caputo-Pearl’s barbs as “childish taunts” in the statement.

A victory for pro-charter forces in District 4, along with another seat up for grabs in the San Fernando Valley between seventh-grade teacher Kelly Gonez, backed by charter advocates, and community organizer Imelda Padilla, with support from unions, would spell a power shift in favor of charter schools on the seven-member school board. Although the district is cautiously favorable to charters — it currently has more charter students than any other school district — pro-charter victories in the two runoffs could mean a board disposed even more favorably to growing its charter enrollment.

Melvoin paints his approach as an all-of-the-above stance rather than an indiscriminately pro-charter one.

But charter forces apparently see an opening in him. Parent Teacher Alliance, a group funded by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), has mounted a muscular independent expenditure campaign on his behalf, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help him defeat Zimmer. Others who have spent heavily for him include Broad and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican.

Richard Garcia, a spokesman for CCSA’s advocacy arm, says it supports Melvoin because “he’s open to listening to all voices,” whereas Zimmer would “remain beholden” to unions.

UTLA has responded with a campaign of its own, blanketing the city with mailers supporting Zimmer and attacking Melvoin. One branded Melvoin the candidate most likely to “implement the Trump/DeVos education agenda in L.A.”

Caputo-Pearl doesn’t expect to be able to outspend his ideological opponents in this race. Instead, he’s relying on the union’s manpower to help re-elect Zimmer.

“What we have,” he said, “is the credibility of educators going door to door, being on the phones and standing up for a public education system for all students.”

Jews, teachers unions and education


When the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) came here this week to hold its annual meeting, it was a reminder that Los Angeles is now the center of the American labor movement. The AFL-CIO held its conference in L.A. last September. Decades of local and statewide organizing have led to a major upsurge in labor strength in L.A., in contrast to labor’s struggles in the rest of the nation and in national politics. Teachers unions, in particular, long have been pillars of the state and national Democratic parties, constituting an important bloc of delegates at nominating conventions.

The AFT meeting also has been a reminder of how perilous an issue education has become within the Democratic Party. The role of the Jewish community in education offers some particular perils, as well.

Jews always have played a major role in debates over public education. As true believers in education, Jews have served as teachers and professors, as well as active parents watching fretfully over the public schools — even those that are not widely attended by Jewish students. Jews have voted overwhelmingly in favor of school expenditures. As beliefs in science and education have been challenged on the right, Jews have strongly retained loyalty to their heritage of intellectual inquiry from the European Enlightenment.

During the last two decades, however, a new debate on school reform has broken out that has divided Democrats, including Democratic Jews. It was probably long overdue, as the comfortable alliance between teachers unions and big-city school boards could not last forever. The school-reform debate has begun to replicate the internal split among Democrats between those who are closer to business and those who lean toward labor. The reformers advocate for, among other things, changes to teacher tenure and the expansion of charter schools.

Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, challenged the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the teachers union that had political control of the Board of Education. He backed winning candidates for a majority of the school board seats and set about replacing the superintendent with Roy Romer, who made significant changes. Then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former UTLA organizer, made permanent enemies of his union by following the Riordan game plan of winning school board seats in order to bolster the current superintendent, John Deasy.

The nationwide school-reform movement, which has been funded by major business leaders, including Riordan’s ally, L.A. philanthropist Eli Broad, has built momentum throughout the country. Writing in The Daily Forward in February, Josh Nathan-Kazis noted that Jewish activists are now playing leading roles on both sides of the debate, including both national teachers-union leaders and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who poured more than $1 million into Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform targeting Los Angeles school board races in 2013. (The coalition’s well-funded candidate lost handily to a schoolteacher, Monica Ratliff, who spent around $50,000.)

At the national level, President Barack Obama has leaned more toward the reformers, as shown in his appointment of Arne Duncan as secretary of education. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago, is wholly in the reform camp. Soon after his election, he became embroiled in what became a losing battle against a surprisingly strong teachers-union leader who now may challenge him for re-election. In California, we have a West Los Angeles state Senate runoff race in November between Ben Allen and Sandra Fluke.  Allen, a Democrat, received major funding from former Republican and now moderate independent Bill Bloomfield, who is deep in the school-reform camp, although Allen has steered clear himself of taking sides in the reform debate.

And then, on June 10, came the Vergara decision, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu issuing a landmark ruling that declared California’s laws on teacher tenure to be unconstitutional. The case is now on appeal. The political fallout among Democrats was quick. Duncan immediately praised the court’s decision, angering teachers-union leaders. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti initially called it a “great decision” but seemed to back off from that position somewhat in his speech to the convention this week. Gov. Jerry Brown withheld comment on the judge’s ruling, focusing instead on his school-funding plan to distribute more funds to school districts with the greatest need.

Republicans, meanwhile, have found in the Democratic split a rare opportunity to gain leverage in blue California and on education, which has traditionally been a Democratic issue. Neel Kashkari, the underdog Republican candidate for governor, attacked Brown for his decision not to comment on the Vergara decision.  

But the Republican position lacks one popular policy that Democrats on both sides of the reform argument favor: more funding, especially for schools serving low-income communities. In fact, the Republican camp includes people who would like to defund public schools entirely, a position foreshadowed by some conservatives labeling public schools “government schools.” Kashkari has expressed doubt that more funding will ever help education, an opinion that will surely run up against firm public support for the notion that public schools need more funding, and that the money must be more fairly distributed.   

The reformers have succeeded in breaking the teachers-union monopoly of school district politics and have divided Democratic leaders over how much they should agree to do what the union wants. Teachers unions, embattled in the face of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that may, in the future, make it difficult to collect union dues from non-members, are going to have to reinvent their roles in a broader social context. That’s why it was encouraging that, according to the Los Angeles Times, Alex Caputo-Pearl, the new president of the UTLA, called for “social movement unionism … explicit about fighting for racial and social justice,” along with his more militant suggestions that a strike might be possible.

Without that wider connection, the teachers union will fall into isolation. Even with its renewed militancy, the teachers union will have to be part of the reform, even if that means agreeing to needed changes on some rules that have endured for years. There will have to be a wide-open debate about the pros and cons of charter schools, which ones work and which ones don’t. They are most likely neither the magic bullet that reformers portray nor the end of public schools as union advocates suggest.

But the reformers have their own limitations. They have put reform on the table — no small task. But by elevating the issue of teacher tenure to such a high level, they are coming dangerously close to seeming to blame teachers alone for the poor quality of the schools. No one would have blamed nurses for the pre-Obamacare problems in health care, or firefighters for a shortage of fire engines. Voters are reluctant to blame those who deliver services that they can touch and feel, that are visible where they live and breathe. They are extremely unlikely to follow the lead of well-funded outside groups.

Where this could get really dicey for Democrats is if school reformers use racial and ethnic appeals to marginalize teachers. The language of the Vergara decision was alarming in connecting teacher tenure to the landmark Supreme Court ruling on integration of schools, Brown v. Board of Education. It has to be shocking to teachers to be compared to segregationists. Even worse, if minority communities are placed in direct conflict with teachers, we risk a repeat of what happened in New York City in 1968, when racially divisive school issues broke apart the multiracial civil rights coalition and largely ended progressive politics in New York City for the next three decades.

While the struggle over school reform is not going away, it will — sooner or later — have to stop being a power struggle between reformers and teachers unions. If one side manages to eliminate the power of the other, there will be no outside check on insider power in the schools, and no teacher-based power to resist cockeyed ideas from the outside. And, even more alarmingly, those who have little commitment to the public schools may someday find in political chaos an argument for defunding the schools. 

Anti-Israel UTLA committee gets sent to the corner for a time out


The United Teachers Los Angeles committee that came under intense criticism for planning to host a gathering calling for economic sanctions against Israel, including a boycott and divestment, has shut down its Web site and agreed to undertake a monthlong “self-evaluation.”

The move came after a meeting on Friday, Oct. 13, with UTLA President A.J. Duffy.

Duffy said he hopes the self-examination will lead the 25-member UTLA Human Rights Committee to focus its attention on “issues that touch on the classroom and the school site that really have to do with education, rather than far-reaching issues, such as whether to boycott Israel.”

The event was to have been sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society Inc., an organization based in Connecticut that, according to its Web site, includes among its board members author Noam Chomsky, who has been sharply critical of Israel, and revisionist historian Howard Zinn.

Duffy said the majority of the UTLA Human Rights Committee now realizes that their actions have damaged the union’s reputation and diverted union members’ attention from salary negotiations for a new teachers contract. UTLA has 48,000 members.

Duffy said he has received more than 300 phone calls and e-mails, some from as far away as Russia, Israel and Great Britain, lambasting the Human Rights Committee for agreeing to host an anti-Israel meeting at the union’s headquarters. Some angry callers, Duffy said, accused the union of supporting terrorists. A few UTLA members threatened to quit the union.

After the outcry from UTLA members and others, including pressure from a united front of local Jewish organizations, Duffy denied the committee use of UTLA facilities.

Going forward, he said he would personally review committee requests for meetings at UTLA headquarters. If proposed gatherings are inconsistent with the union’s official political position, Duffy said, he could exercise “emergency powers” and deny usage.

Although the UTLA Human Rights Committee rescinded its offer to host the meeting that triggered the controversy, the Movement for a Democratic Society gathering took place at a different, unnamed site on Oct. 12, with some of the Human Rights Committee members in attendance, according to committee member Emma Rosenthal. The society is allied with Students for a Democratic Society, a student-activist movement that peaked in the 1960s. Cafe Intifada, which Rosenthal heads, and the Los Angeles Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee officially endorsed the gathering.

Rosenthal declined to reveal any details about the Oct. 12 event, except to say that the outcry by pro-Israel groups “created a whole lot of interest. We had a lot more involvement than we otherwise would have had.”

Founded in the 1980s, the Human Rights Committee has sponsored and hosted a variety of meetings and conferences over the years that have addressed the environment, support for striking Oaxacan teachers in Mexico and immigration rights, among other issues. In April, the group’s two-day “Conference on Human Rights and the Environment” featured workshops on topics ranging from the environmental impact of Israel “occupation” on Palestinian communities, to the Gulf War to climate change. A lunchtime plenary session included a discussion of “definitions of genocide and human rights in the U.S., world history and in the Middle East, specifically in Palestine,” according to the group’s Web site.

UTLA members can become voting members of the Human Rights Committee by attending its first meeting of the year or two consecutive gatherings.

The original release put out by the local chapter of the Movement for a Democratic Society said the anti-Israel meeting’s purpose was to support the Palestinian people and call for a boycott, divestment and sanctions.

“When Israel was created in 1948, 75 percent of the Palestinians were forcibly dispossessed of their lands and forced into exile,” the release says, adding that “Israel’s apartheid and racist system of oppression closely resembles that which South Africa once had….”

A Movement for a Democratic Society spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, has said the strategy for boycott, divestment and sanctions is really a “campaign for the elimination of the State of Israel, spearheaded by extremist groups who use the same hateful rhetoric as states like Iran and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”

UTLA quashes Israel divestment push


Under a tidal wave of pressure from the local Jewish community, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) decided to deny use of its headquarters to the UTLA Human Rights Committee. The committee planned to discuss economic sanctions against Israel, including a boycott and divestment.
 
The move by the roughly 25-member group, a small fraction of the 48,000 UTLA members, caught the attention of the Jewish community, which quickly united in opposition.
 
UTLA President A.J. Duffy said he advocated canceling the planned Oct. 14 pro-Palestinian gathering because it would have served only to “polarize our union members and members of our community.” Instead, he said he supports convening a gathering for a dialogue between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian forces.
 
However, pressure from Duffy and some Jewish organizations has galvanized some UTLA Human Rights Committee members, who now want to proceed with the pro-Palestinian meeting at “an undisclosed location at an undisclosed time,” according to Emma Rosenthal, a committee member and director of Cafe Intifada, which, along with the Los Angeles Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, officially endorsed the Oct. 14 gathering.
 
“Some of the Jewish establishment is absolutely intolerant of any discussion of any sort that has to do with Palestinian human rights; anything that’s critical of Israel,” said Rosenthal, a poet and political activist, who is Jewish. She added that the organizations planning the meeting probably would have canceled the Oct. 14 gathering anyway because of security concerns.
 
Rosenthal called pro-Israel Jewish organizations hypocritical in calling for “balance” when, she believes, they so rarely offer it at their own meetings and conferences.
 
The UTLA Human Rights Committee and the Cafe Intifada blog have recently received hate mail and e-mails calling members “terrorists, Nazis and murderers,” Human Rights Committee member Andy Griggs said. He added that the committee originally had expected no more than 30 people to attend the meeting.
 
Founded in the 1980s, the Human Rights Committee has sponsored and hosted a variety of meetings and conferences over the years that have addressed the environment, support for striking Oaxacan teachers in Mexico and immigration rights, among other issues. In April, the group’s two-day “Conference on Human Rights and the Environment” featured workshops on topics ranging from the environmental impact of Israel “occupation” on Palestinian communities, to the Gulf War to climate change. A lunchtime plenary session included a discussion of “definitions of genocide and human rights in the U.S., world history and in the Middle East, specifically in Palestine,” according to the group’s Web site.
 
UTLA members can join the Human Rights Committee by attending its first meeting of the year, or two consecutive gatherings.
 
Teacher Elana Dombrower, who is Jewish, said the committee’s latest stance has angered her.
“I am infuriated,” said Dombrower, who teaches fifth-grade at Roscomare Road Elementary School in Bel Air. “How dare this committee try to do something like this that doesn’t reflect the UTLA’s view or the views of its members.”
 
The committee’s planned gathering was to have been sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of a group called Movement for a Democratic Society Inc., a new organization based in Connecticut that, according to its Web site, includes among its board members author Noam Chomsky, who has been sharply critical of Israel, as well as revisionist historian Howard Zinn. The group has tight links with Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, a student-activist movement that peaked in the 1960s.
 
Some Jewish leaders appreciated UTLA Duffy’s efforts to put distance between the union and the Human Rights Committee.
 
“I’m proud of what the UTLA has done,” said Allyson Rowen Taylor, associate director of the western region of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress).
 
Earlier, Rowen Taylor had said that allowing such a meeting to take place on union property would have given the appearance that that UTLA endorsed divestment and a boycott, which it does not.
 
An Oct. 6 letter to Duffy from several Jewish groups, including The Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee, AJCongress, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Progressive Jewish Alliance, among others, thanked him for sending “a clear message that UTLA does not endorse the [Human Rights] Committee’s action.”
 
To try to prevent future attacks on Israel by UTLA committees, the AJC has encouraged its members who belong to the union “to make their feelings known about the indoctrination programming done by the Human Rights Committee and the hijacking of this committee,” said Sherry Weinman, president of the Los Angeles AJC chapter.
 
Leaders from several major local Jewish organizations met for two hours at the L.A. Federation on Oct. 4 to discuss how to respond to the planned event. Several participants said Duffy, who attended the meeting, told the group that he is Jewish, supports Israel and sympathizes with their concerns. He told participants that UTLA’s 30-plus committees enjoy much autonomy, and that their positions don’t necessarily reflect the union as a whole.
 
Duffy said that he had removed UTLA’s Web link to the Human Rights Committee and that UTLA would review its procedures for granting use of its facilities to union committees. Duffy said that he found the brouhaha a distraction.
 
“Let me put it this way, I’d rather be focusing 100 percent of my time to the contract negotiations going on, rather than this,” he said in an interview.
 
A former special education teacher and dean of students at Palms Middle School, Duffy described himself as a cultural Jew. When he grew up in Brooklyn, “we used to say there were more of us here than in Israel, and it was true,” he quipped.
 
The UTLA Human Rights Committee agreed to host the pro-Palestinian meeting at the request of the Movement for a Democratic Society and after canvassing opinions of Human Rights Committee members. Although only six committee members responded to the list-serve e-mail, all said they supported the gathering, the Human Rights Committee’s Griggs said.
 
Marla Eby, UTLA director of communications, said Duffy will meet on Oct. 13 with the members of the Human Rights Committee to strongly urge the committee not to proceed. Duffy said he will “share the sheer preponderance of communications I’ve received that translate into our organization having taken a hit from our members. I’m not talking about The Jewish Federation or other Jewish organizations or Jewish teachers. I’m talking about teachers who are absolutely appalled that they think UTLA would sponsoring such an [anti-Israel] meeting.”

United Teachers Los Angeles just says ‘no’ to Israel divestment push by union commitee


Under a tidal wave of pressure from the local Jewish community, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has decided to deny use of its headquarters to a UTLA committee planning to host a meeting to discuss the launch of a local boycott of sanctions against and divestment from Israel.

 
In an release issued late on Oct. 5, UTLA President A.J. Duffy said he favored canceling the planned Oct. 14 pro-Palestinian gathering because it will “only polarize our union members and members of our community.”

 
However, the UTLA’s Human Rights Committee might still choose to hold the gathering elsewhere, even though Duffy has lobbied several committee members to scrap it, UTLA communications director Marla Eby said.

 
“It’s still up in the air,” she said.

 
The planned gathering would be sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of a group called Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), a new outfit that, according to its Website, includes author Noam Chomsky, who has been sharply critical of Israel, as well as revisionist historian Howard Zinn as board members and which has tight links with Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, a student-activist movement that peaked in the 1960s. The gathering is officially endorsed by the Los Angeles Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee and by Cafe Intifada.

 
Still, some Jewish leaders seemed to appreciate UTLA President Duffy’s efforts to put distance between the union and the Human Rights Committee.

 
“I’m proud of what the UTLA has done,” said Allyson Rowen Taylor, associate director of the western region of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress).

 
Earlier, Rowen Taylor had said that allowing such a meeting to take place on union property would give the appearance that that UTLA endorsed divestment and a boycott, which it does not.

 
A draft letter to Duffy from several Jewish groups, including the Zionist Organization of America, AJCongress, the Jewish Community Relations Committee and the Progressive Jewish Alliance, among others, thanks him for sending “a clear message that UTLA does not endorse the [Human Rights] Committee’s action.”

 
Leaders from several major local Jewish organizations met at the L.A. Federation on Oct. 4 to discuss how to respond to the planned event. Duffy also attended the two-hour gathering. Duffy, several participants said, told the group he is Jewish, supports Israel and sympathizes with their concerns. He told participants that UTLA’s 30-plus committees enjoy much autonomy and that their positions don’t necessarily reflect the union as a whole.

 
Duffy said, in the release, that he had removed UTLA’s Web link to the Human Rights Committee and that UTLA would review its procedures for granting use of its facilities to union committees. In an interview Oct. 5, Duffy added that he found the brouhaha a distraction.

 
“Let me put it this way, I’d rather be focusing 100 percent of my time to the contract negotiations going on, rather than this [meeting],” he said.

 
Duffy said he had received far more pro-Israel calls and e-mails than pro-Palestinian communication.

 
Representatives from UTLA’s Human Rights Committee declined to comment. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said he believes the group is “made up of a fringe of anti-Semites.” The congressman added that perhaps UTLA should create a new committee for teachers supporting Israel.

 
The Human Rights Committee’s mission statement calls for “social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict for its members and other staff, students, parents, the community, the nation, and the global economy.”

 
After learning about the planned anti-Israel meeting, local Jewish groups united in their condemnation, characterizing the event as anti-Semitic and criticizing the UTLA for initially allowing its headquarters to be used.

 
“This is worse than a black eye. This goes to the heart of [UTLA’s] credibility,” said Stephen Saltzman, western regional director of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), before the UTLA announced the gathering could not take place on its property. “This is the largest teachers’ union west of the Mississippi allowing itself to be used by extremist radicals who want to launch a campaign to attack the state of Israel and do so with the implied endorsement of the people teaching our children.”

 
Paul Kujawsky, vice president of the Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, and a fifth-grade teacher at Germain Street Elementary Street in Chatsworth, said he thought UTLA could make better use of its time grappling with such important local issues as high-school drop-out rates.

 
“As a union member, I’m furious that we are attempting to have our own foreign policy when there are so many important educational issues to be addressed,” Kujawsky said before Duffy’s announcement.

 
A release put out by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Movement for a Democratic Society said the meeting’s purpose is to support the Palestinian people and call for a boycott, divestment and sanctions.

 
“When Israel was created in 1948, 75 percent of the Palestinians were forcibly dispossessed of their lands and forced into exile,” the release says, adding that “Israel’s apartheid and racist system of oppression closely resembles that which South Africa once had…” An MDS spokesman could not be reached for comment.

 
Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said the strategy for boycott, divestment and sanctions is really a “campaign for the elimination of the state of Israel, spearheaded by extremist groups who use the same hateful rhetoric as states like Iran and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”