ADL convenes a summit of antisemites to fight antisemitism – opinion

The ADL’s decision to stock its virtual conference with radical leftists who wage a disinformation war against Jews shows just how destructive to Jewish life the organization’s wokeness under Greenblatt has become.

By Daniel Greenfield, JNS

When three Jewish teens were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas, Israel fought back, Jews mourned and Sheera Frenkel rushed to claim that Hamas wasn’t responsible.

“There is a Hamas official in the story saying they are not Hamas,” she insisted on Twitter.

It was a low point in a career of smearing Israel with lies and hate, but not unusual.

Frenkel had previously accused Israel of using white phosphorus, falsely claimed that there had been a blast at an Iranian nuclear facility, wrongly described an Israeli ban on Gaza construction materials, and concluded her coverage of the brutal murder of a rabbi and his family in India with a quote suggesting that “the attitudes of the Chabad, which gives the sense of an elite club for Jews alone, is part of what provoked the terrorists to target them for the attack.”

This is the sort of ugly, hateful behavior the ADL should be condemning, not celebrating.

After a career of spreading disinformation against the Jewish state, Frenkel got a job covering “disinformation” for the New York Times. And she’ll be taking part in a conversation on the spread of “disinformation” at the opening session of the ADL’s “Never Is Now” summit.

The ADL virtual event will also feature Frenkel’s fellow New York Times activist Kara Swisher, who has her own history of anti-Israel tweets, including a link to a column in the paper defending BDS, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and with the rest of the antisemitic “Squad” and arguing that it’s possible to “oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot.”

Kamala Harris and “Lost” actor Daniel Dae Kim will also be speaking at the event, as will activists associated with anti-Israel hate groups like J Street and the Israel Policy Forum. Not a single pro-Israel group will be represented at the event.

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This is how the ADL claims to be fighting antisemitism.

While the ADL has not seen fit to invite any pro-Israel activists, it did find a place for Amy Spitalnick, the former press secretary for J Street, who had worked on Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign and then went on to serve as a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Earlier this year, Spitalnick appeared at a virtual J Street event alongside Peter Beinart, who supports BDS and recently wrote a New York Times op-ed headlined, “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” Spitalnick, who currently claims to be fighting Nazis, defended the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children,” which even The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg described as “anti-Jewish agitprop” and a Guardian op-ed compared to a medieval blood libel.

Before Spitalnick had reinvented herself as a Nazi-fighter, she was defending material that has been compared to Nazi propaganda and depicts Jews as the new Nazis.

And that’s the sort of thing that the ADL decided is a good fit for Never is Now.

In addition to Spitalnick, Oren Jacobson, the head of a pro-abortion group and affiliated with the Israel Policy Forum, will also be speaking.

Also invited is Sara Yael Hirschhorn, who, as Moshe Philips at Israel National News pointed out, had accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” “The Palestinian case shares some common features with South Africa—population transfer/ethnic cleansing,” Hirschhorn tweeted. She also claimed that Israel is guilty of “daily violations of human rights.”

Hirschhorn has cultivated a storied Israel-bashing career with New York Times op-eds like “Israeli Terrorists, Born in the U.S.A.” Her book “City on a Hilltop,” attacking Jews living in their historical homeland in Judea and Samaria, was featured, along with the author, at a Foundation for Middle East Peace event. FMEP, a part of the Arab Lobby, accuses Israel of “apartheid.”

Past Never is Now conferences had at least tried for a pretense of balance by inviting a liberal pro-Israel activist or two. But now the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt is taking off the mask.

The ADL is putting Israel, Jews and antisemitism on the back burner; the opening session of Never is Now features Daniel Dae Kim talking about anti-Asian hate. The third session is titled, “Confronting Anti-Black Racism to Fight Antisemitism” and falsely claims that “Anti-black racism is… an issue in our synagogues, schools and Jewish Institutions.”

The ADL was never a good organization, but I can remember when it used to condemn Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan instead of echoing them.

Now the ADL’s idea of fighting antisemitism is telling Jews that they’re a bunch of racists.

“Without addressing the impact of racism,” the ADL falsely claims, “we cannot move forward in the fight against antisemitism.” It touts a panel that will “explore how critical it is to fight anti-black racism in order to build a stronger and more effective movement across communities to dismantle antisemitism.” Making fighting antisemitism secondary to fighting racism is the most obvious symptom of a sellout organization that puts wokeness ahead of its core mission.

The NAACP does not tell its members that fighting racism should be secondary to fighting antisemitism. Nor does it create the artificial linkage that the ADL proposes, which not only makes antisemitism a secondary issue but demands that Jews admit to being racist.

After the past few years, in which there were two domestic terrorist attacks against Jews by members of the the Black Hebrew Israelite hate group, in which major leftist movement leaders have praised Louis Farrakhan and in which there have been repeated anti-Semitic hate crimes in the New York area carried out by black assailants, the ADL should be addressing black anti-Semitism instead of accusing Jews of racism. But the ADL doesn’t care about antisemitism.

Only the final sessions, “Combating Anti-Zionist and Antisemitic Activism in Progressive Spaces” and “Confronting Antisemitism on Campus” actually address commonplace, everyday antisemitism. Instead of putting the fight against antisemitism first, the ADL puts it last.

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The careful tenor with which it addresses leftist antisemitism on campus and in organizational life is very different from its willingness to denounce every other form of bigotry. When it comes to its condemnation of racism against “Black, Latinx, AAPI, Muslim, LGBTQ+,” the ADL doesn’t engage in nuance or seek to distinguish between legitimate opinions and racist ones. Yet when it comes to leftist antisemitism, the ADL is careful to cultivate an imaginary distinction between good leftist hatred of Israel and bad leftist hatred of Jews so as not to offend its political allies.

Antisemitism is the only bigotry that the ADL believes requires nuance toward the bigots.

The ADL leadership is deferential toward leftist antisemitism because, unlike with far-right antisemitism or any kind of racism or prejudice, it concedes that leftist antisemitism has a point.

The roster of anti-Israel bigots it invited to present atNever is Now signals as much.

Instead of opposing leftist antisemitism, the ADL would like leftists to moderate it, to draw lines between appropriate and inappropriate hate, but as the history of its own collaborators in leftist antisemitism show, that line is as imaginary as the ADL’s Jewish commitments.

The ADL’s decision to not only stock its virtual conference with radical leftists who wage a disinformation war against Jews, but to invite high school students to attend, shows just how destructive to Jewish life the organization’s wokeness under Greenblatt has become.

Instead of calling its conferences Never is Now, maybe the ADL should call them Now Again.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.