Posted: 12/15/2016 12:48:00 AM
Author: Alex VanNess
Source: This article originally appeared in the New york Post on Dec. 9, 2016
Jonathan Greenblatt is destroying the Anti-Defamation League
by Alex VanNess
In Israel last week, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told legislators that anti-Semitism in America is now comparable to that of 1930s Germany.
Yes, his fearmongering went that far: “Anti-Semitism has wound its way into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying.” He then laid blame for this resurgence almost exclusively at the hands of the political right and supporters of President-elect Donald Trump.
This is merely the latest Greenblatt departure from the ADL’s nonpartisan tradition.
Founded by the Jewish service organization B’nai B’rith over a century ago in response to Eastern European pogroms, the ADL’s core mission is to “fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.” Note that “anti-Semitism” came first, followed by fighting other bigotry.
Under longtime chief Abe Foxman, the ADL largely honored those priorities. Everyone knew Foxman was liberal, but he kept his personal views distinct from his work. The new director, by contrast, has moved the ADL onto a partisan course at odds with this core mission.
Greenblatt came to the job directly from serving as a special assistant to President Obama. Before that, he directed an initiative at the Aspen Institute, a George Soros-financed, left-leaning nonprofit. And his bias is showing now in his opposition to anything associated with right-wing politics and in the ADL’s championing of leftist positions, even when they run against the interests of the Jewish community.
Under Greenblatt, the ADL has rightly taken a strong stance against anti-Semitism stemming from Internet trolls associated with the “alt-right” — but he’s also largely ignored anti-Semitism spawning from the left.
Notably, the ADL has downplayed the anti-Semitic nature of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement — the ultimate goal of which, its founder has openly admitted, is the destruction of Israel.
The ADL has also promoted the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, by creating school lesson plans that promote it, despite BLM’s support for BDS and open hostility toward Israel. Just recently, Greenblatt accused American Jews of living with “white privilege.”
Last year, the ADL expressed disappointment over delays in implementing the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. This was not only taking sides on a highly partisan issue with no clear connection to bigotry of any kind, but also disregarding concerns over religious freedoms raised by members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
When news broke that the Trump transition team might revive the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a post-9/11 program to register and track noncitizens from countries with a “high risk” for extremist activity, Greenblatt went ballistic: In his opening remarks at the ADL’s “Never is Now” Summit, he pledged to register as a Muslim should the Trump administration create a “Muslim registry.”
Yes, civil-rights groups criticized the program for alleged targeting in the past — but it’s a far cry from being a “Muslim registry.”
Yet Greenblatt’s ADL launched a full-court press against the imaginary registry, with endless tweets and calls for people to register as Muslims and stand against hate. This, when Israel was under attack by terrorists setting fires throughout the region — and the Jewish state’s critics were celebrating with the #IsraelIsBurning hashtag. This blatant anti-Semitism elicited a tweet from Greenblatt expressing his distaste for the cheers.
Then there’s the ADL’s uneven response to the move to install Rep. Keith Ellison as head of the Democratic National Committee.
Greenblatt’s first reaction was a statement calling Ellison “a man of good character” and an “important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism.” Following some backlash, Greenblatt wrote an op-ed in Medium walking back on some of his statements while reupping the claim that Ellison “has been outspoken about anti-Semitism.”
Greenblatt also claimed that the ADL saw “no concrete evidence of any link between Ellison and the [Muslim] Brotherhood.”
Yet Ellison has a long history of publicly associating with organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society. The ADL’s own Web site states that “CAIR and its founders were part of a group set up by the Muslim Brotherhood” and that these groups have provided a “forum . . . to rail against Jews.”
Then audio surfaced of a 2010 speech where Ellison plainly implied that Jewish interests control US foreign policy. This forced the ADL to finally rescind its praise for Ellison, describing his remarks as “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
Greenblatt has shown himself unable to leave his old partisan circles behind. This is turning the ADL into a shell of its former self; if it goes on much longer, the group’s credibility may never recover.
Since Jonathan Greenblatt is unlikely to change, it’s up to the ADL’s board of directors to take action and put the ADL back on a trajectory of fighting anti-Semitism regardless of political affiliations.
Alex VanNess directs the Middle East Peace & Security Project at The Center for Security Policy.