ADL’s Progressivism Undermines Its Credibility in Combating Antisemitism

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The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) mandate to investigate and combat antisemitism is well known.

What is also well known is that Jonathan Greenblatt, former advisor to President Obama and head of that administration’s Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and now current head of the ADL, is a progressive who is steering the ADL to the left and, according to many, causing ADL to betray its mandate.  

ADL came out earlier this year with its nine-page annual ADL Audit: U.S. Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged in 2016-17.  ADL’s troubling bottom-line finding, (page 1 – Overview section) is that antisemitism is on the rise in America: 

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. surged more than one-third in 2016 and jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017. There was a massive increase in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November 2016, and a doubling in the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism at non-denominational K-12 grade schools.

The report concludes that, while “most antisemitic incidents were not carried out by any one extremist and antisemitic group.” It becomes more explicit, citing certain antisemitic sources including “The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere,” “several dozen incidents carried out by Trump supporters,” and “a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the U.S” adding emphasis by identifying two such individuals and “anti-Zionists or individuals who express their displeasure with the actions of the State of Israel.”

ADL appears to have deliberately ignored specific mention of other well known sources of American antisemetism.

Every year the American mainstream, Jewish, and other media sources report on attacks against Jews by harassing and intimidating antisemitic words and deeds that at times turn violent, whether against campus Jewish students or ordinary Jews in society.  Many such attacks are moved purely by antisemitism or, while they might begin as anti-Israel activism, quickly devolve into antisemitism. 

Sources of antisemitism identified in these reports include a number of activist anti-Israel or self-styled Muslim civil rights organizations and individuals, BDS supporters and the left wing that, next to the BDS movement (which the left supports) is itself a major contributor to antisemitism in its own right, not just in the U.S., but globally

The ADL must know of these major sources of antisemitism in America, yet it ignored them and, instead, dubiously pointed fingers implicitly at President Trump and his campaign and expressly against Trump supporters and white supremacists. This latter group’s antisemitic attacks appear relatively few compared to the attacks by the aforesaid antisemitic sources that ADL deliberately chose to not mention. 

Further causing one to raise an eyebrow, the ADL report does make a singular reference to Muslims, in addressing cemetery vandalism: 

While the cemetery desecrations were a low point in the Q1 2017 anti-Semitic incidents, the response was heartening: members of the Muslim and Christian faiths raised thousands of dollars to help repair the damaged tombstones.

To what Muslim is the ADL is appreciatively referring? 

None other than Linda Sarsour, notorious Palestinian American BDS and pro-Sharia activist who has managed to garner recognition as a leading extreme Muslim voice and who, using her anti-Israel, antisemitic, anti-conservative, and anti-Trump hate-filled rhetoric, has won credibility with many left-wing factions that share her views in great measure or completely.  See:  Linda Sarsour’s ‘Jihad by Steven Emerson (July 12, 2017) and On Linda Sarsour’s Politics of Hate and the Pathos of Her Jewish Enablers. The Muslim American activist speaks at CUNY, where the twisted, anti-Semitic logic of the new left is that to be a good progressive, one must stand against Jewish self-assertion and national aspirations by James Kirchick.   

As for the funds raised to repair Jewish cemeteries in February, 2017, since being embarrassingly outed for failing to turn over those monies as promised,  Sarsour’s group now says they are about to do so.  Group Associated With BDS Activist Linda Sarsour Announces Intention to Turn Over Funds Promised to Historic Jewish Cemetery by Rachel Frommer, July 14, 2017. Under the heading Incidents Linked to Israel the ADL report says:

One anti-Semitic theme that we saw less of in 2016 than in some previous years is the harassment of American Jews by anti-Zionists or individuals who want to express their displeasure with the actions of the State of Israel.

To be clear:  ADL believes in the right of free speech. We do not consider criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic. However, the assumption that American Jews are somehow responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, the stated or implied allegation that American Jews have divided loyalties, and the claim that Jews have a tribal identity that trumps their concern for the human rights of others, evoke classic anti-Semitic tropes that we cannot dismiss as regular political or protest speech. These incidents are included in the ADL Audit.

The unqualified statement we do not consider criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic is startling for its familiar ring. It is the same disclaimer many antisemites disingenuously employ by declaring they are not antisemitic, but only anti-Zionist and opposed to Israeli policies – as they proceed to demonize Israel in ways that are unquestionably antisemitic.  ADL’s statement, if quoted by antisemites, can have the effect of giving credibility to such disingenuous disclaimers.

Most Jews are astute enough to know what anti-Israel speech is fair criticism and what is unbridled antisemitism. 

Perhaps progressive ADL and its leader Greenblatt, along with the left wing, have become so enured to being critical of Israel, particularly its current right-wing leader PM Netanyahu, that they fail to grasp that whether criticism of Israel is fair or antisemitic depends on what is said.

ADL would do well to acquaint itself with the Natan Sharansky’s 3D test: are the words based on a double standard, and do they demonize and delegitimize Israel? This test is explained in:  Sarsour Doesn’t Pass ‘3D’ Antisemitism Test by Ariel Behar, May 15, 2017.    

The ADL was created to be, foremost, a Jewish body mandated to act on behalf of the American Jewish community in investigating and combating antisemitism in America. With its slide to the left, the ADL is betraying its mandate and undermining both its credibility and relevance. 

That unfortunate conclusion as to where the ADL is and, worse still, where it is headed, is borne out my many who have written cogent analyses, some of which are below:

Those, such as the aforesaid writers and analysts, who are deeply concerned that the ADL is betraying its mandate, must do much more than just write about the need to right the badly left-listing ADL. They must unite to devise a game plan that will return the ADL to being and doing what its mandate directs.

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