Defaming Canary Mission

The ADL’s embarrassing mea culpa.

Canary Mission is an online organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism on college campuses across the United States. Its methods though somewhat unorthodox, are extremely effective. Canary Mission monitors the social media accounts of university students, captures screenshots of profoundly offensive anti-Semitic (and sometimes homophobic) rhetoric spewed by these students and then exposes the rot to the world utilizing a well-developed website and social media platforms. Canary Mission’s mantra is simple; “If you’re a racist, the world should know.” 

Many of the students exposed by Canary Mission belong to pro-BDS, anti-Semitic hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine while others are affiliated with white supremacist organizations. The cringe-worthy rhetoric spewed by the extreme left and extreme right is frighteningly similar and often offers praise for Hitler, mocks the Holocaust, espouses anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories, threatens violence, and likens Israel to Nazism. By screenshotting the posts and compiling detailed online dossiers, Canary Mission ensures that these students cannot subsequently erase their odious pasts with the simple click of the delete button. These rancid Judeophobes quickly learn that the internet is forever. 

Last week, about 100 university students affiliated with seven universities published a letter critical of Canary Mission. The students, who claimed to belong to the pro-Israel campus community alleged, among other things that Canary Mission employs “Islamophobic and racist” rhetoric in an effort to further its agenda. The students further claimed that Canary Mission’s “intimidation tactics” are “antithetical to our democratic and Jewish values.”

Shortly thereafter, the Anti-Defamation League jumped on board issuing a twitter post lauding the students “for exposing Canary Mission’s Islamophobic & racist rhetoric…” That comment unleashed a torrent of responses, almost all unanimous in their scathing criticism of the ADL. Several responders challenged the ADL to cite one example where Canary Mission engaged in “Islamophobia.” Still others described the ADL as “shameful,” “irrelevant” and “neutered.”

These characterizations are appropriate. Under the stewardship of Obama acolyte, Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL has veered sharply to the radical left. It has repeatedly inserted itself in a partisan manner into matters that have nothing to do with the ADL’s primary mission, which is to combat anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Greenblatt’s ADL has in the past defended the foul-mouthed, rabidly anti-Semitic Linda Sarsour, endorsed the Farrakhan-affiliated Keith Ellison for DNC head (later pulling the endorsement after an audio of Ellison peddling anti-Semitic tropes emerged) and hired George Selim as its “Senior Vice President of Programs.” Selim helped the Obama administration forge ties with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a pro-Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood-linked group that was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Justice Department’s Holy Land Foundation criminal probe.

In an article titled “Defamation by the Anti-Defamation League,” Law Professor David Bernstein notes that he emailed one of the students who signed the letter as well as the ADL asking both to cite examples of Canary Mission’s alleged “Islamophobia.” Unsurprisingly, the student never bothered responding while the ADL stated that it was in the process of researching the issue. Strange that the Anti-Defamation League would be so quick to defame an organization dedicated to combating hate without first establishing the veracity of its claims. Needless to say, the ADL’s “research” came up short.

Pressure on the ADL began mounting as other Jewish news outlets made similar inquiries, and just days later, the organization was forced to perform an embarrassing about-face. In an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the ADL expressed regret for employing “overly broad language…to describe the Canary Mission…,” adding that “It was wrong to apply those labels to a group working, like us, to counter anti-Semitism on campus.” Canary Mission showed class by readily accepting the apology and asking the ADL to work jointly with Canary Mission to combat anti-Semitism emanating from the far right and radical left. 

The ADL’s acknowledgement of its egregious error in this one instance is a step in the right direction but falls far short of what the ADL needs to do to restore its reputation as an organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism and xenophobia irrespective of ideological origin or manifestation. Regrettably, the ADL has been slow to recognize Jew-hate spewed by so-called progressives. This is perhaps due to the ADL’s near sycophantic efforts to curry favor and ingratiate itself with the so-called “Resistance.” Hopefully, this unfortunate incident will serve as a wake-up call for the ADL, though sadly, given the ADL’s current leftward trajectory, tortuous obsequiousness to radical elements, and oleaginous leadership, I remain pessimistic.