The Shmooze

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Stands Tall at ADL 100 Dinner

By Masha Leon

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Karen Leon
ADL 100: Abe Foxman, Larry Scott, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Billie Jean King stand with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Guests at the June 11 ADL 100 Award Tribute Dinner jockeyed for photos with the evening’s speakers — 7’2” basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, tennis icon Billie Jean King and Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe’er. Israel’s tall consul general Ido Aharoni just reached the chin of 6’11” basketball great and now ESPN sportscaster Bill Walton. The evening honored Larry Scott who was chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, and fought for Pe’er when she was denied entry to the United Arab Emirates in 2009 preventing her from competing in the Dubai Tennis championships. Under Scott’s leadership, The Dubai Tennis Championship was fined $300,000. Pe’er competed in Dubai in 2010. Scott is currently Commissioner of Pac-12 Conference.

“We fight hate, we fight bigotry, we fight discrimination against all people” said ADL National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher who said: “Our programs ‘A World of Difference’ and ‘No Place for Hate’ have involved 56 million students and teachers about the value of diversity.” The 300 guests at Gotham Hall saw ADL’s 80-second video — with over one million hits online — “Imagine A World Without Hate.” Set to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” it shows an image of Anne Frank as an adult; Martin Luther King, Itzhak Rabin and other victims of hate as aging as if “they had they not been taken from us [before their time] because of hatred.” Curtiss-Lusher who was invited to the White House “to show ‘Imagine” to President Obama, described sitting in the Oval office and “speaking with the president about how far we have come and the challenges yet to come.”

Emcee Charles Davis, FOX Media Group, introduced Abdul-Jabbar who touted sports for kids where “the rules, like the courthouse statues of Justice, are blind to ethnic, gender or social differences.” Pe’er — in a sleeveless, black satin gown — declared: “I am an Israeli, and I’m a Jew… a person who wants and deserves to live a normal life! I stand before you as an example of how sports can break political and social barriers.” Describing her March of the Living visit to Auschwitz with her mother and grandmother “who was there during the war,” Pe’er declared: “I am a third generation Holocaust survivor…. We won. We survived. As one who served in the Israeli army,” Pe’er described herself as “a model of the new Jew who does not put her head down to anyone.”

In his address, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said: “We have enacted laws prohibiting all forms of prejudice and discrimination, but we cannot seem to implement their spirit. For me, the Anti-Defamation League is an institution that does everything so that our children and grandchildren will never have to ask in the future, ‘what if?’ Presenting Scott with the League’s Americanism Award, Foxman said: “In this our centennial year, as we create the bridge between the challenges of the past and those yet to be met, we applaud you Larry for your commitment to promoting respect and understanding. We need more people like you — leaders who stand with courage and conviction.”


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