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The top pro-Jewish organization in the US has shown it isn’t what it claims to be

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO has made outlandish and harmful claims about students protesting the Israeli war effort in Gaza

As students at top universities in the US protest against the Israeli war effort in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injury to over 70,000 more, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been working overtime to sanitize Israel’s image – and to make outrageous claims about protesters.

The ADL describes itself as an anti-hate organization with a mission “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Its CEO and director, Jonathan Greenblatt, recently said live on MSNBC that “Iran has their military proxies like Hezbollah, and Iran has their campus proxies like these groups, like Students for Justice in Palestine,[and] Jewish Voice for Peace.” He also told Forbes during an interview that he’d “really like the FBI to investigate these groups” for their supposed “elevation of Hamas propaganda.”

Additionally, Greenblatt visited Columbia University and did a live stream in which he said he wanted the New York Police Department back on campus or, he suggested, “bring in the National Guard.” The ADL chief then proceeded to pen a controversial opinion piece for CNN, arguing for the NYPD to make a return to campuses, calling on universities to ban full-face masking, to immediately suspend students who violate codes of conduct, and to arrest outsiders for trespassing, as well as pushing for donors to divest from universities.

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The Anti-Defamation League has a long and storied history of attacking people it disagrees with, often Arabs, black people, and queer people. It rightly casts those who claim that Jews in the US fundamentally have a “dual loyalty” split between America and Israel, while consistently painting Israel’s detractors, especially those with Muslim roots, as having this same compromised loyalty. The ADL infamously collaborated with the House Un-American Committee in the 1940s and 50s, adopting a quasi-state role that also favors deeper (and unwavering) support for Israel.

Today, this supposed civil-rights advocacy organization’s 53-year-old leader appears to be continuing this tradition – though ADL faces a much tougher mission ahead. That’s because many Americans, particularly younger ones, are disgusted with the actions of the Israeli state, or at least with those of the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What is transpiring in Gaza is nothing short of a televised genocide, and it is impossible for any ordinary human being of a decent moral composition not to feel sympathy for the Palestinians.

Greenblatt is evidently desperate to turn the discussion away from the wanton slaughter of human beings by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by making this issue about alleged hate speech and about altercations against Jews on college campuses, even though many of the groups he has baselessly accused of connections to foreign states and designated terrorist groups are themselves Jewish.

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It is clear that he also wants to avoid legitimate discussions about boycotting, defunding, and sanctioning (‘BDS-ing’) Israel, particularly in light of that country’s, or at least of PM Netanyahu’s, complete disregard for elementary humanitarian and international law, while ironically calling on people to BDS universities.

This deflection is certain to fail. No amount of punditry can force people not to believe their lying eyes. With the advent of social media and its attendant democratization of information, it is impossible for Gazans not to be seen and heard. Additionally, student movements have been on the correct side of history so many times during so many junctures in so many different places that it may as well be a law of history. This is a losing battle for the ADL.

On top of that, Greenblatt’s comments are dangerous and could potentially be defamatory if directed at particular individuals. The mainstream media has allowed him and his organization an open platform to accuse students of being linked to foreign states and to designated terrorist groups, which would be, as he notes, a criminal offense. It could also be a civil matter if his claims caused material damage, such as job losses or job-opportunity losses. Allowing someone to make such claims, without evidence or even the slightest challenge, violates the most fundamental principles of journalism. The mainstream media cannot allow Greenblatt to go unchallenged, or the ADL should be properly identified as a pro-Israeli group that also has open ties to the US security state.

 

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