The Anti-Defamation League is Fueling War – Emmaia Gelman 10/18/23


The Anti-Defamation League is fueling war with its attacks on those trying to stop Israeli assaults on Palestinians, and its pernicious charge that “anti-Zionism is genocide.”

As Anti-Defamation League officials appear on global televisions denouncing widespread rallies calling for an end to Israeli’s genocidal violence against Palestinians, we are seeing the most dangerous outcome of the ADL’s long history of asserting itself as a civil rights group. The ADL’s framing of itself as an advocate against bias is completely belied by its advocacy for Islamophobic policy, its work to foster militarized policing and hyper-surveillance, and its clearly articulated role as an advocate for Israeli policies, including apartheid. The ADL crassly instrumentalizes the public’s real concerns about antisemitism, producing outrageously inflated statistics that list hundreds of protests against Israeli violence as “antisemitic incidents.” As a result of this disingenuous posturing, the ADL is being consulted as an expert on this war.

But the ADL is not a civil rights group. The ADL enters this war as a right-wing organization, not a Jewish one. Yesterday on MSNBC, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt amplified the right-wing disinformation that Hamas had called for a “day of jihad” and then suggested that ‘governors, mayors, and people in positions of authority’ had ignored it because they aren’t concerned enough with Jewish safety. He repeated this disinformation as hundreds of Jewish protesters in Washington, DC, literally laid down in the street to try to stop Israel’s assaults on Palestinians.

The ADL is historically and presently a Cold War organization; it views the world in terms of the West and the Rest. Its attacks on critics of Israel often, without irony, target Jewish peace organizations that are doing real work with Palestinians and communities of color. Echoing the language of right-wing panic about “socialism,” the ADL’s Greenblatt has taken to labeling efforts to stop Israeli violence as “Soviet propaganda.” Yesterday on MSNBC, as the Israeli military bombed Palestinians evacuating under Israeli military orders, as the death toll among Palestinian children soared over one thousand, Greenblatt also made the outrageous statement that “anti-Zionism is genocide.”

The ADL’s reach into our conversations at this crucial time is unbelievably dangerous. We may well be on the brink of a world war, which the ADL is fueling with its insistence that Jewish safety depends on Palestinian genocide. Schools are sending home ADL materials on “how to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” that literally demands that we center Jewish concerns about safety with no reference to mass Palestinian deaths nor decades of brutal colonization — and repeat the ADL’s claim that anti-Zionism is antisemitism – all couched in the language of “positioning yourself as a learner” and “considering history.”

We must stop platforming the ADL as a civil rights group. We must understand it as a political organization with political aims. Its aim is genocide, and its aim is war.