Rabbi Michael Barclay
The Anti-Defamation League Is Now a Tool of the Anti-Semitic Left
If there was ever a doubt in recent years, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is now not only dead, it is beyond resuscitation. The final nail in the coffin came in the form of an email to Jewish leaders on December 14 from Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and national director, in which he proudly wrote about ADL’s involvement as pro bono counsel in filing a lawsuit against individuals and organizations “for their role in coordinating an act of domestic terrorism against our democracy on January 6.”
Putting aside the entire issue of calling what happened on January 6 an “act of domestic terrorism” or an “insurrection,” the fall of this once great organization into an active arm of leftism is profoundly sad.
The ADL was once a great organization. Founded in 1913, its original mission as stated in its charter was clear: “The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” It was created in response to the virulent anti-Semitism of the time that had peaked with the lynching of Leo Frank.
It quickly became a force for liberty and justice, and remained so for decades. It fought against The Dearborn Independent and its support of “The Protocals of the Elders of Zion” (one of the most blatant pieces of anti-Semitic propaganda ever written); monitored and fought against the German-American Bund and its pro-Nazi allies in the United States; monitored multiple extremist groups; and by the 1970s had made a conscious move to include protection of Evangelical groups.
But by 2008, the ADL started losing its values and going down its path of sickness that has led to its spiritual death. In that year, it moved away from its traditional Judeo/Christian causes and significantly more into the political arena by campaigning against California Proposition 8’s (banning same-sex marriage). Although Prop. 8 was passed by California citizens 52.24% to 47.76%, the ADL was at the forefront of challenging the will of the people in multiple court cases, filing amicus briefs with the Supreme Court of California and the Supreme Court of the United States. But this was only the beginning of the transition of the ADL from fighting for Jewish values and against anti-Semitism into becoming a tool of the anti-Semitic left.
In 2015, the ADL actively fought against the State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (based on the federal RGRA, passed unanimously by Congress in 1993). From starting as a champion for religious rights over a century earlier, the ADL had moved into fighting against the religious liberties of individuals and organizations (legislatures of 23 states currently have enacted versions of the SRFRA). This despicable behavior expanded as the ADL fought viciously against President Trump at every turn, accusing him in the 2016 and 2020 elections of being an anti-Semite, despite his love for Israel, his having family members who are Jewish, and his ultimately continual strong support of Judaism, Israel, and people of faith that culminated in the Abraham Accords. They passionately attacked the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and repeatedly called for the resignation of Trump official Stephen Miller, himself a Jew. They spent the last few years publicly attacking conservative leaders (including developing a hit list that included Jack Posobiec and Milo Yiannopoulos, although the list did feature a number of other far right extremists who truly are dangerous), blaming Trump for the January 6 event, repeatedly calling for the firing of Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, and working on behalf of the left at every opportunity.
In 2018, the ADL “rebranded” as an “anti-hate” organization with a new motto: “Fighting Hate for Good.” This has resulted, as an example, from the ADL condemning anti-Semite Al Sharpton in 1992 after the Crown Heights riots to partnering with Sharpton in 2020. They now are proud of supporting BLM goals and “martyrs”, and have traded in their historical values in favor of supporting the extreme leftist agenda. But what really sparked this change from an organization devoted to freedom and safety into a political axe for the left?
The answer is simple: Jonathan Greenblatt.
In 2014, it was announced that Greenblatt would replace Abe Foxman as national director of the ADL, even though he had never worked in the Jewish institutional world. A successful businessman starting with being a founder of Ethos Water, Greenblatt rose to prominence as part of the Obama administration, as special assistant to the president and director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. His connections with the political left are substantial, and the ADL has now become under his leadership a de facto political arm of the left. Besides partnering with hate-monger Sharpton, Greenblatt also recently became one of the 25 members of the “Real Facebook Oversight Board.”
Under Greenblatt’s leadership the ADL has now partnered with CAIR in fighting against anti-BDS legislation, fought for abortion, and has entirely transformed from its original purpose into an organization that is even labeled by the respected and tolerant Jewish magazine Tablet as “mind-bendingly insane.” With his latest email, Greenblatt shows the pride he feels in pursuing legal action against participants in the January 6 event, whom he calls “domestic terrorists.” He has finished the work he began upon taking his position at the ADL: He has utterly destroyed what it was and made it a political tool to utilize for his own personal crusade for the left.
Once upon a time, the ADL was the organization to go to when faced with anti-Semitism, fascism, and authoritarianism. It was the champion of the individual who sought to have his rights protected, especially religious rights. It was an early model of what well-intentioned people could do by banding together to protect each other. Thanks to Greenblatt, that model is fully destroyed beyond redemption.
For decades, many of us and our parents donated regularly to the ADL to help them in their fight for justice and liberty. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to make sure that our individual and foundation donations and grants no longer go to fill Jonathan Greenblatt’s coffers (his reported annual salary is over $400,000 plus bonuses and benefits) in his pursuit of leftism.
Even more importantly, as we approach the year’s end, we need to donate to the organizations, institutions, churches and synagogues that truly are fighting for our Constitutional rights, and there are many of them in need right now. Your local church or synagogue can certainly use the financial support after the last 20 months; there are academic institutions like Hillsdale College and Prager U that still fight to truly educate our young people; and there are advocacy and legal organizations like the Advocates for Faith and Freedom and For United Solutions that are daily helping individuals and organizations fight the battle both in and out of the courtroom. And all of us need to continue to support PJ Media as a leader in spreading accurate information throughout the world.
I implore each of us to fight what the ADL has become by being charitable in this Christmas season and year’s end and giving to the organizations that still carry forward the original values of the ADL, our faith traditions, and this nation.
May we all be blessed with the generosity to support the fighters for liberty, the strength to hold our personal and religious convictions, and the courage to stand up against the Jonathan Greenblatts of the world and express our truths under the protection of both the Constitution and God.
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