Most trace the ADL’s turning point to the advent of Jonathan Greenblatt, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. But ADL’s downward spiral came long before.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called for Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s head earlier this month.
In an over-the-top letter to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott on April 9, ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said, “It is time for Carlson to go.” Carlson’s crime? According to the ADL letter, “an impassioned defense of the white supremacist ‘great replacement theory,’ the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being ‘replaced’ by a rising tide of non-whites.”
Fox Chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch politely declined, pointing out that Carlson “decried and rejected replacement theory” in the April 8 episode in question. Carlson, for his part, gleefully replayed the segment as part of a longer discussion on April 13.
We have watched the segments closely and see nothing from Carlson worthy of the ADL’s censure.
Neither did 1,500 Orthodox rabbis represented by the Coalition for Jewish Values. They publicly went to the mat rebuking the ADL for “grossly misplaced charges of anti-Semitism.”
Carlson argued that “demographic change is the key to the Democratic party’s political ambitions. … When you change who votes, you change who wins. That has nothing inherently to do with race or nationality. It is the nature of democracy.”
One may or may not agree with this, but it’s not anti-Semitism.
Jonathan Tobin, the dean of American Jewish journalism, said the real weakness of the ADL’s argument “is that up until recently, the ones talking about immigrants replacing or overwhelming white voters have been liberals.”
Carlson pointed this out, too. “They [the Left] say it all the time. They’ve done studies on it. Written long books about it. Talked about it endlessly on television, often in the ugliest racial terms. They’re not ashamed at all.”
We, too, wonder where the ADL was when, for instance, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote a 2018 column under the headline “We Can Replace Them.”
The reason for the double standard is clear enough. The ADL, founded in 1913 “to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people,” has a new purpose. It’s no longer protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. It’s protecting Democrats from criticism. That’s why you get the disagreement over Carlson between two Jewish groups that will leave non-Jews scratching their heads. The unseemly dispute is the natural result of the ADL transforming into a Democratic party support group.
Why, for example, did the ADL oppose the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh? Or issue press releases expressing concern about various Trump officials, none of whom were accused of anti-Semitism? Why does it produce endless statements about white supremacy but few about the ongoing attacks (mostly by blacks) on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn?
In October of last year, the ADL rushed to the defense of “human rights” groups which the State Department planned to cut ties with over their anti-Semitism. They included some of the biggest names in the business: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam.
It was left to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) to do ADL’s job, pointing out that Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of war crimes and, together with Amnesty International, led the BDS campaign against Airbnb. ZOA noted that actress Scarlet Johansson was forced to resign as an “Oxfam Ambassador” simply because she became a spokeswoman for Israeli product SodaStream.
In the very letter to Fox News targeting Carlson, the ADL gave, among its ‘proofs’ of Carlson’s racism, his questioning the patriotism of two “women of color.” One of them? Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Most trace the ADL’s turning point to the advent of Jonathan Greenblatt, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. In a sane world, a resume with his background would have ended up in an ADL wastebasket.
But ADL’s downward spiral came long before. One could say the ADL died in 1987 when Nathan Perlmutter, the last great ADL national director, passed away from lung cancer. It was under Abraham Foxman, national director from 1987-2015, that ADL lost its way.
It was under Foxman’s watch that the ADL attacked the likes of Dennis Prager (for insisting that Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison take his oath on a Bible, not a Koran), Rush Limbaugh (for wondering if Jews were having buyers’ remorse about Obama) and Dutch leader Geert Wilders (for “Islamophobia”).
Foxman’s ADL did, however, co-sponsor a December 2004 luncheon whose guest speaker was Sari Nusseibeh, Arafat-appointed head of Al Quds University, who said the Garden of Eden was designed for the mothers of suicide bombers and was arrested by Israeli police in 1991 for collaborating with Saddam Hussein in an effort to improve the accuracy of Scud missiles fired on Israel.
Worst of all, under Foxman, in 1994 the ADL published a monograph assailing Christian evangelicals, the only non-Jewish voting bloc in the world that consistently supports Israel. Titled “The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America,” the report described the movement as paranoid, bigoted and conspiracy-minded. “The religious right brings to cultural disagreements a rhetoric of fear, suspicion, even hatred,” it said.
The attack couldn’t have been more ungrateful and undeserved. All one need do is look at the words of evangelical leader Pat Robertson. At a Herzliya Conference on Dec. 17, 2003, he said:
“We are with you in your struggle. We are with you as a wave of anti-Semitism is engulfing the earth. We are with you despite the pressure of the ‘Quartet’ and the incredibly hostile resolutions of the United Nations. We are with you despite the threats and ravings of Wahabi Jihadists, Hezbollah thugs, and Hamas assassins.
“We are with you despite oil embargos, loss of allies, and terrorist attacks on our cities.
“We evangelical Christians merely say to our Israeli friends, ‘Let us serve our God together by opposing the virulent poison of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that is rapidly engulfing the world.’”
Reading this leads to one conclusion: ADL has itself become the defamer, using false charges of anti-Semitism to score points against those who don’t subscribe to its progressive pieties.
ADL’s long-established position in the Jewish community as the foremost bulwark against anti-Semitism means it’s well-placed to harm Jewish interests by providing cover for anti-Semites on the Left while ignoring or downplaying real threats against the Jewish people both from the Left and ‘protected minorities’ like Muslims. As a result the ADL is all but missing in action on those American campuses where anti-Semitism runs rampant, leaving groups with lesser resources like AMCHA, Camera, and StandWithUs to fill the breach.
As Tobin writes, “by engaging in naked partisanship disguised as advocacy against racism and anti-Semitism, the ADL has forfeited its right to be taken seriously on either subject.”
The ADL measures its success in dollars and it’s pulling in tens of millions, giving it the false idea that it’s on the right track.
It’s not money ADL needs. It’s new leadership and a return to its original mission.
David Isaac is managing editor of World Israel News.