Shame on the ADL…writes Isi Leibler

September 16, 2016 by Isi Leibler
Read on for article

Irrespective of one’s personal opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s videotaped remarks on Palestinian “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from any future Palestinian state, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s scornful public condemnation is simply beyond the pale.On numerous occasions over the past few months, I have expressed incredulity and anger at the statements of Greenblatt for determinedly tilting the ADL policy away from its primary mandate of combating antisemitism and steering it toward partisan social action issues.

Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler

The latest example of this was his kumbaya remarks to a J Street audience when he effectively endorsed moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians, complained of our failure to recognise the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, questioned Israel’s democratic structure, engaged in partisan electoral politics and condemned the Republican platform as “anti-Zionist for omitting a two-state structure, and insisted that groups supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which he admittedly condemns, are “animated by a desire for justice.”

Greenblatt also continues to align the ADL with the Black Lives Matter movement, despite that the movement has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide and called on black institutions to support BDS. He refuses to disassociate from them and continues to promote Black Lives Matter in the ADL’s educational and family discussion guides in schools and elsewhere. He considers that this organization, despite its antisemitism, is promoting “critical civil rights issues that merit attention” and that only “a small minority of the leaders” are responsible for the antisemitic campaigns.

Greenblatt, formerly employed in the Obama administration, does not seem to appreciate that his current organization — which has a charity budget in excess of $50 million — has a primary role to resist the growing tide of anti-Israelism and antisemitism that is sweeping the United States, especially on college campuses. Instead, in what is utterly unprecedented from a purportedly mainstream American Jewish organization, he has publicly excoriated the position adopted by the democratically elected head of the Israeli government. Netanyahu’s video was, as expected, criticized within Israel by the traditional left wing, but endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.

Netanyahu simply stated facts. The Palestinians have made it eminently clear again and again that a Palestinian state would be Judenrein. One only has to review the ethnic-cleansing policy adopted by the Jordanians in 1948 when Jews were expelled from east Jerusalem and the Etzion Bloc.

Despite the slick PR of Palestinian spokesmen denying that this is the case to naïve Western audiences, there is no question in the mind of anyone who understands the situation that Jews would not be tolerated in any Palestinian hegemony — and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly said it repeatedly.

The Palestinian Authority officially supports this approach and I can only express regret that, presumably out of sensitivities to liberal Americans who refuse to confront this reality, it took so long for Netanyahu to shine the spotlight on this despicable abomination. After all, this highlights the outrageous fact that the Palestinians seek to delegitimize a Jewish presence throughout the biblical homeland. Other than some Muslim countries, there is no place in the world today where Jews are prohibited from living.

Netanyahu is paving the way for Israel’s response to a predictable United Nations assault on its policies later in the year. The reference to Israel’s Arab citizens makes the valid point that, despite the inevitable upheavals during the 1948 war when the nascent Jewish state was invaded by the combined armies of multiple Arab states, at no stage has Israel engaged in systematic ethnic cleansing of its Arab inhabitants.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. State Department responded that “using this type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful” and reiterated that settlement construction was an obstacle to peace. In so doing, they failed to address the legitimate question raised by Netanyahu as to whether they accept that a Palestinian state should be Judenrein.

American Jews can agree or disagree with Netanyahu. But for the head of the ADL, a major Jewish organization, to condemn Netanyahu in the journal Foreign Policy, and accuse him of choosing “to raise an inappropriate straw man regarding Palestinian policy toward Israeli settlements” was unprecedented and totally unacceptable. He stated further that “like the term ‘genocide,’ the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ should be restricted to actually describing the atrocity it suggests — rather than distorted to suit political ends.” Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he emphatically repudiated Netanyahu’s charge that the Palestinians seek ethnic cleansing.

Under such circumstances, one would have expected that every major Jewish organization would dissociate itself from Greenblatt’s statement, noting that it is not the role of an organization whose primary objective is combating antisemitism to engage in public condemnations of views expressed by the democratically elected leader of Israel. But aside from the Zionist Organization of America, a curtain of silence has again enveloped the major Jewish organizations.

It would seem that in the post Abe Foxman era, the ADL board has knowingly empowered an individual whose outlook is not only liberal but effectively represents an echo chamber of left-wing Democratic politics. In fact, despite Greenblatt’s protestations of love for Israel and reiteration that the U.S.-Israel nexus is strong, especially after finalization of the defense agreement, the ADL’s approach to Israel is similar to that of J Street, having no hesitation in telling Israelis that it knows better than they do what is good for them.

This is a worrisome situation. American Jews should inform the ADL board that by enabling their CEO to make such partisan statements, they are causing enormous harm to Israel during this critical period when retaining U.S. public opinion is of crucial importance.

If the ADL fails to act, American Jews should question whether they should continue supporting what was until recently a venerable mainstream Jewish organization, which has now been hijacked by a CEO whose outlook has more in common with J Street and less with combating antisemitism and supporting the embattled Jewish state.

Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem. He is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.


One Response to “Shame on the ADL…writes Isi Leibler”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    It’s an extraordinary situation outlined by Isi Leibler. The mind boggles. And one must resist the sliver of despair that threatens the spirit to read of Jewish people such as Greenblatt with such twisted perspective, doing so much damage. There can be many reasons for that, including not having the courage to be what you are and also be proud of it, despite what’s going on around you. There has been much written by many about the phenomenon of the Jew who goes out of his way to be other and cleave in self-delusion to the ignorant and hateful opinion of those who would see him down.

    Although the question is, why is Jonathan Greenblatt still CEO of the Anti-Defamation League? Especially given the direction in which he’s leading it. That’s even more extraordinary. Methinks Israelis pay far too much credence to the American Jewish Diaspora. I know they have the numbers in comparison with Jewish population elsewhere, however, increasingly so many of them are passive and far removed from the realities that exist in Israel and for Israel. Israelis should face up to that.

    As a small aside semi-associated with these thoughts, I received an email from a sector of the IDF some days ago, asking that a card for Rosh HaShanah be signed by Jews in the Diaspora for the soldiers serving and away from their homes for this chag. I willingly went ahead in effort to do so. Only problem was the only ‘zip code’ acceptable for access and processing was one of US format – so there you are, an Australian Jew, or British Jew for that matter, doesn’t get a leg in, so to speak. That’s how concentrated the Israeli mentality is on the US. I wrote back and told the sender the situation.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.