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This is Not Your Grandfather's Antisemitism
Why the ADL's transformation into a progressive activist group means it often gives a pass to leftwing anti-Jewish hate
Today, my wife, author Patricia Posner, and I, wrote an OpEd in Newsweek, “Why Another Antisemitism Watchdog?” (also in the quote block below). It is a story of our personal frustration as incidents of anti-Jewish hate hit records in 2021 and again this year, and the Anti-Defamation League focused on many progressive issues that had little to do with its stated mission of combatting antisemitism.
As we write in Newsweek, “If antitrust laws applied to combating antisemitism, the ADL would seem at quick glance to be a monopolist. Its annual reports about antisemitism are cited widely in the media. With more than $60 million annually in donations, it is certainly one of the richest. And while the ADL does a lot of good work, for those of us who track anti-Jewish hate, it has seriously diluted its original mission by recasting itself in recent years as a more generic ‘leading anti-hate organization.’
The ADL's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, a former aide in the Obama White House's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, has refashioned the ADL in his seven-year tenure into a progressive activist group. When the ADL does go after antisemitism, it often focuses on either celebrity cases or right-wing anti-Jewish extremism, while giving a free pass to left-wing haters. As part of its new progressive identity, the organization also endorses partnerships and enterprises that themselves sometimes contain elements of anti-Jewish hatred.”
We expose in the Newsweek OpEd how the ADL’s much-touted, online “ADL Tracker” missed two-thirds of the antisemitic incidents in only the first 11 days of December.
As we note in Newsweek, “There are zero Tracker search results for Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Louis Farrakhan, Nick Cannon, the Nation of Islam, or Black Lives Matters. Nor is it just the Tracker where the ADL is coming up short. The ADL has also taken a backseat on calling out the entrenched antisemitism that flourishes at many American universities. It seems missing in action, at times, over how anti-Jewish bigotry often masquerades as anti-Zionism.”
The ADL’s 2021 “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents” listed four rightwing, “Most Noteworthy Extremist Groups.” As we write in Newsweek, “Those are, indeed, groups that thrive on anti-Jewish hatred. But where is the Nation of Islam, Radical Hebrew Israelites, or the New Black Panthers, all of which are listed as dangerous antisemitic hate groups by no less a left-wing organization than the Southern Poverty Law Center?”
We are not the only ones who think the ADL has come up short in combatting antisemitism. Yesterday, one of the most seasoned reporters on the subject, Bari Weiss -- gave an interview to the Jewish Telegraph Agency. It noted that Bari "is a leading voice opposing what the ADL’s leadership says is one of the most pressing issues compromising American Jews’ safety."
How frustrated are Trisha and I over the developments at the ADL? So much so that we have just formed our own NONPARTISAN organization, Antisemitism Watch, to expose people and groups that incite anti-Jewish hatred on both the right and left. Leave out the politics, we decided, and just highlight the incidents of antisemitism so those in power can do something about it.
We, and a handful helping us, are volunteers. Antisemitism Watch is minuscule compared to the ADL. However, we bring the discipline of investigative journalism to the mission of exposing hate. People can contribute to us, but we are not fundraising. We do not have to satisfy big donors or organizations that are concerned about political and social standing. Antisemitism Watch is only focused on doing a simple job, making a small contribution to rolling back the recent surge of Jewish hate.1