The ADL Turns Anti-Israel
Whitewashing BDS and ignoring anti-Semitism.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
“Allah has made it a duty to fight them and wage Jihad against them,” he had declared. It was not “permissible under Sharia” to make peace with the Jews. Instead the Muslims were obligated to “fight them, to shed their blood, and wage perpetual Jihad.”
“All the Jewish people are combatant,” he ranted. They could all be killed.
Despite that, HIAS allied with the Syrian American Council in its push for the migration of Syrian Muslims. And the ADL chose to invite Omar Hossino of the SAC to speak at its National Leadership Summit.
The ADL is no stranger to strange alliances with Islamist groups through its Interfaith Coalition on Mosques which harasses local communities into acceding to the construction of Islamist institutions. But under its new leader Jonathan Greenblatt, an Obama associate, the organization has also been opening doors to anti-Israel groups across the spectrum.
When radical anti-Israel hate group If Not Now targeted Jewish charities for harassment, the ADL told the stealth BDS group, which has ties to open BDS group JVP, that “there’s more we agree on than disagree on.” A follow up ADL tweet was openly directed at a JVP member. Greenblatt’s press release described members of the anti-Israel hate group as “part of our community” and claimed once again that If Not Now and ADL shared the “same goal”. No less a figure on the left than Eric Yoffie, a persistent critic of Israel, had written that, “IfNotNow is not a pro-Israel organization. It does not deserve the support of left-leaning American Jews.” And that was coming from a J Street supporter.
Even the Bernie Sanders campaign had suspended IfNotNower Simone Zimmerman for her ugly comments. But what wasn’t good enough for Yoffie and Sanders was good enough for the new ADL.
The ADL head told J Street, as he had assured If Not Now, that his organization “shares your commitment to change”. He echoed talking points by the astroturf anti-Israel groups that the “establishment” had not provided a “safe space” for debate. That’s a euphemism for providing forums for anti-Israel groups to spread their hate against the Jewish State.
“We should not stand idly by when those in our community exhibit Islamophobia or deny the rights of the marginalized, Palestinian,” he insisted to J Street.
But even earlier, Jonathan Greenblatt had begun whitewashing BDS and anti-Israel groups with a Medium post in which he described the delegitimization of Israel as an “ostensibly non-violent movement”… “that worked so well to bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa .”
He claimed that many BDS activists are “animated by a desire for justice” and that “even if we disagree, even we should acknowledge the earnestness of their motives.”
The ADL had gone from clear condemnations of BDS to defending the motives of haters and bigots.
But Jonathan Greenblatt shows a pattern of being more comfortable with critics of Israel than its friends. He retweets Israel critic Dean Obeidallah and an attack on Bill Clinton by an anti-Israel activist who shrieks “Zionist Jews & Apartheid Israel can go 2 hell, they’ve milked USA w/Lies 4 far 2 long.” There was a time when the ADL used to condemn that sort of thing. Instead Greenblatt pops up in Haaretz to condemn Jewish “hate speech”. Haaretz has run headlines such as “The Conference of the Elders of Zion” and “Trump at AIPAC: A Jewish Betrayal of the United States”. Greenblatt did not object.
While on every other issue, from mandatory mosques for communities to mandatory men in women’s bathrooms to mandatory contraception for nuns, the ADL has sharpened its positions. But on Israel, the Greenblatt ADL has been watering down its stands and edging closer to opponents of Israel.
Perversely Greenblatt had even exploited Holocaust Remembrance Day to call on the Jewish community to “embrace” a “vigorous debate” by those who “disagree with certain policies and behaviors” of Israel.
“One can be critical of Israel without any justification or accusations of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt insisted.
No one doubts that. And yet it’s quite strange that Jonathan Greenblatt feels the need to defend Israel critics in his Holocaust Remembrance Day message. Or perhaps it’s not so strange at all.
Before heading the ADL, Greenblatt had been the director the Aspen Institute, an organization with close ties to George Soros. The previous ADL boss had condemned Soros. Its current boss was his man.
But Jonathan Greenblatt appears to motivated more by disinterest than animus. He is animated when urging companies to boycott North Carolina or advocating for #BlackLivesMatter. Like many on the left, Greenblatt views Jewish identity and history as coin to be traded in for left-wing causes. He likes heading up a civil rights group, but the Jewish part is an uncomfortable formality.
When he tells hate groups like If Not Now and anti-Israel groups like J Street that they share a common goal, he means it. Not because those groups are in any way accepting of Israel, but because he views their areas of agreement on Syrian Muslim migrants or gay rights to be far more important than Israel.
The ADL’s National Leadership Summit had only one panel on anti-Semitism, one panel on BDS and one panel on Israel. The latter was an apologetic session with two ADL honchos titled, “Answering the Toughest Questions About Israel”. To put that into perspective, the ADL had the same number of sessions on BDS as it did on transgender bathrooms. It had the same number of sessions on anti-Semitism as it did on Syrian Muslim refugees. Its mass incarceration and transgender bathroom panels were twice the size of its Israel or BDS panels.
Jonathan Greenblatt and his new ADL know that they have to go through the motions to keep the donors on the hook. He has to promise to fight BDS and anti-Semitism. But meanwhile the ADL dismisses the “mounting hysteria” of claims of anti-Semitism on campus by Jewish students. It honors left-wing politicians who make anti-Semitic statements as well as those who voted to let Iran go nuclear.
The ADL has always been a sellout organization, but under Greenblatt it has become much more comfortable talking to haters of Israel and the Jewish community than to victims of anti-Semitism. Donors to the ADL aren’t funding the fight against BDS or anti-Semitism. Instead they’re underwriting generic left-wing activism against prisons, borders and single-sex bathrooms under a Jewish brand.
When Jonathan Greenblatt assures anti-Israel hate groups like If Not Now and J Street that they share the same goals, maybe the pro-Israel community should start taking him at his word.