Jonathan Greenblatt, someone of whom we have been highly critical, finally is speaking out against leftwing anti-Zionism.
We’ve been very critical of Jonathan Greenblatt’s leadership of the Anti-Defamation League. (See here, here, here, here, and most recently, here.) We think it only right to acknowledge when he does something right.
Greenblatt’s recent Newsweek opinion piece and May 1 speech to the ADL Virtual National Leadership Summit seem to indicate growing recognition that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and new resolve to fight it. In his 25-minute speech, Greenblatt said bluntly: “To those who still cling to the idea that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism – let me clarify this for you as clearly as I can – anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” The Newsweek op-ed explained it this way:
Replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionists” to claim some perceived moral high ground was a rhetorical technique pioneered by Soviet disinformation specialists… If you demonize another group enough, there are more than a few people out there who will act—who will think it’s OK to slur a classmate during a pick-up basketball game, or spray paint a synagogue, or jump the Haredi man walking down the street in Brooklyn, or—God forbid—do even worse.
Greenblatt has come a long way, but he has a long way to go. His ADL is not starting from the baseline of being the nation’s leading organization standing up for Jews and fighting anti-Semitism, but from the left-wing political advocacy group into which he’s transformed it. Strong words in isolation must be transformed into strong words and strong deeds when faced with real life occurrences of anti-Semitism whether disguised as anti-Zionism or anything else. So far, the ADL’s response to anti-“Zionism” remains particularly lacking.
That’s the gist of an op-ed I recently had published by JNS (also appearing in Israel Hayom and the Jewish Press). I took the liberty of offering Mr. Greenblatt suggestions for beefing up the ADL’s performance. Here are the first few:
The May 1 speech and recent article spent less time on criticisms of right-wing anti-Semites than the 2021 op-ed, but still criticized the right.
Mr. Greenblatt, please stop your attempts to “balance” condemnations of the left with put-downs of right-wingers. It suggests the ADL is not serious about critiquing the left. After all, how many ADL exposés of right-wing anti-Semitism “balance” themselves with criticisms of left-wingers?
Don’t be tepid or slow on denunciations of left-wing anti-Semitism. We’re encouraged that you criticized The Harvard Crimson’s publication of a pro-BDS editorial, but a tweet that it is “beyond disturbing” and cheers for faculty members and students who spoke out against it isn’t enough. The ADL exists to take point in controversies like this.
Likewise, why are you so silent about President Joe Biden’s choice of Karine Jean-Pierre as his new press secretary, despite her track record of Israel-bashing? When a group that at least used to be the premier Jewish organization fighting hatred, discrimination and crimes against Jews is slow to recognize anti-Semitism and cautious about denouncing it, is it any wonder that college presidents, politicians and others are reluctant to say or do anything?
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