An open letter to the ADL

The Zionist Organization of America isn't looking for a fight with the Anti-Defamation League, but its leadership needs to clear up some worrying question marks over their stance towards Israel and the anti-Semitic BDS movement.

Tags: ZOA BDS ADL
Morton A. Klein

OpEds ZOA head Morton Klein
ZOA head Morton Klein
Arutz Sheva

1. What is ADL’s position regarding so-called “targeted” BDS against Jews, Jewish businesses, universities and cultural institutions in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria?   Was the Forward wrong that an ADL spokesman stated that ADL is still “studying” this issue?  

Will ADL make a statement publicly opposing BDS against Jews, Jewish businesses, universities and cultural institutions in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem now? 

If ADL issues a public statement opposing “targeted” BDS, ZOA would be happy to publicize ADL’s statement.

2. On May 29, 2015, the ADL’s then chief Abe Foxman published an article that criticized anti-BDS laws, stating:  “Legislation that bars BDS activity by private groups, whether corporations or universities, strikes at the heart of First Amendment-protected free speech, will be challenged in the courts and is likely to be struck down.  A decision by a private body to boycott Israel, as despicable as it may be, is protected by our Constitution. Perhaps in Europe, where hate speech laws exist and are acceptable within their own legal frameworks, such bills could be sustained. But not here in America.” http://www.jta.org/2015/05/29/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/op-ed-comprehensive-approach-to-fighting-bds-is-needed  

Has ADL modified the above written policy on anti-BDS laws? 

Has ADL ever acknowledged that anti-BDS laws can be Constitutional and not impair free speech? 

Will ADL make a public statement acknowledging that anti-BDS contracting and pension laws such as the Illinois law are Constitutional, and explaining why that is so?  Ditto for other types of anti-BDS laws?

Again, if ADL issues a public statement revising its Constitutionality views on anti-BDS legislation, ZOA would be happy to publicize ADL’s statement.

3.  ADL’s website recounts that ADL lobbied against a Maryland anti-BDS law, stating that: “ADL previously submitted testimony to the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee opposing legislation that suppresses academic freedom and chills speech.” http://dc.adl.org/news/adl-commends-maryland-legislatures-strong-support-for-academic-freedom/

In addition, ADL’s website reprinted a letter that ADL wrote on July 29, 2015 to Chairman Ron DeSantis and Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Security of the U.S. House of Representatives, opposing federal anti-BDS legislation, which states:  “Legislation that bars BDS activity by private groups, whether corporations or universities, raises some concerns about regulating First Amendment-protected free speech, and could be challenged in the courts and struck down. A decision by a private body to boycott Israel, as despicable as it may be, is protected by our Constitution. We also have some concern that efforts to legislate against BDS may divert effort away from waging the battle for hearts and minds that is necessary to marginalize the odious ideas inherent in the BDS campaign.”  http://www.adl.org/israel-international/m/bds/adl-letter-to-congressional.html

In addition, a Forward article published on February 29, 2016 states:  “Asked whether he was suggesting that BDS was a law enforcement matter, [ADL head Jonathan] Greenblatt said no.”  http://forward.com/news/334508/adl-enters-bds-fray-with-hardline-partner/

Again, has ADL modified its stated public policy or views on anti-BDS laws? 

Has ADL ever acknowledged that anti-BDS laws can be Constitutional and not impair free speech? 

Will ADL make a public statement acknowledging that there are anti-BDS laws that are Constitutional? 

Again, if ADL issues a public statement revising its Constitutionality views on anti-BDS legislation, ZOA would be happy to publicize ADL’s statement.  

ZOA would also be happy to work out a joint statement with ADL.

4.  In Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991) (reprinted at https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/500/173/case.html ), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the U.S. government may prohibit recipients of federal funds from using those funds to express speech with which the government disagrees, stating:  “[A] legislature's decision not to subsidize the exercise of a fundamental right does not infringe the right."  

Does the ADL disagree with this holding? 

Is the ADL willing to publicly state that this holding supports anti-BDS laws that prohibit recipients of state and federal funds from using those funds to promote BDS?  

5.  During ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt’s speech to J Street (reprinted on ADL’s website at http://www.adl.org/israel-international/israel-middle-east/remarks-by-jonathan-greenblatt.html#.V1kZSVfWrww ), Greenblatt accused fellow Jews of “Islamophobia” and “marginalizing Palestinians” and claimed that the “Palestinian narrative” is “legitimate.”   Greenblatt said: “We should not stand idly by when those in our community exhibit Islamophobia or deny the rights of the marginalized, Palestinian or otherwise.  So, when it comes to striving for a two state solution, it’s critical for two parties to meet halfway.  Both sides need to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other’s narrative.  We need equal pressure for equality.”

What “Palestinian narrative” does ADL believe is “legitimate”?  The false Palestinian Arab

narrative that Jews living on Jewish land are “occupiers” that “stole” their own land from “Palestinian” Arabs?  The false “Palestinian Arab narratives” that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are Islamic holy places that Jews are “defiling,” and that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem? 

What does Greenblatt mean by his accusation that fellow Jews are “marginalizing Palestinians?”  Does refusing to accept false Palestinian Arab “narratives” constitute “marginalizing Palestinians”?

Is Greenblatt/ADL willing to publicly retract his statement accusing Jews of “Islamophobia”?

6.  Greenblatt also blamed “both sides” for acts that are the sole responsibility of Palestinian Arabs and during his J Street speech, and encouraged criticism of Israel for the lack of a solution.   Greenblatt stated:  “We must be on guard for those . . . who place blame on one side instead of putting forward solutions that acknowledge the role and responsibility of both sides” and “Both sides need more investment and less intifada, more business and less boycott, more help and less hate” and “Looking back [after the hopes of Oslo], some disagree about what happened or how we get to that two-state solution. We can – and should – have a robust debate.  We can criticize and argue with our brothers and sisters in Israel, and with their government.  I know I do.  I know ADL does.” and  “We can seek to support Palestinian self-determination.” 

Why is ADL criticizing Israel for the lack of a Palestinian state?   Is this an appropriate role for the ADL?   Isn’t ADL supposed to be combatting anti-Semitism?

Why is the ADL criticizing Israel when the Arabs rejected repeated offers of statehood alongside a Jewish state?  

Why is the ADL criticizing Israel when it is the PLO/PA (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas that call for intifadas (the murder innocent Jews), and teach hatred of Jews in Palestinian Arab schools, newspapers, television, and government-controlled mosques?

Does the ADL blame “both sides” in any other context when one side teaches hatred and violence?   For instance, when the Ku Klux Klan teaches hatred of blacks, does the ADL does blame “both sides”?   Then why is the ADL blaming “both sides” when Palestinian Arabs teach hatred of Jews?   Isn’t this the exact opposite of what the ADL is supposed to be doing?

7.  In his J Street speech, why did Greenblatt falsely imply that Israel does not protect Arab citizens’ rights today, and portray protecting Arab citizen’s rights as a future aspiration for which activists must fight?  Greenblatt stated: “We want to see Israel as a democratic country that acknowledges [sic] and protects [sic] the rights of all its citizens, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, Sabra and immigrant, Jew and Arab.”

If the foregoing was not what Greenblatt meant, why didn’t he simply state:  “Israel protects the rights of all its citizens, including its Arab citizens.”? 

8. Greenblatt also told J Street:  “Often I know you are the front line of defense against BDS and delegitimization.”  

Isn’t ADL aware that J Street honors leaders of the BDS movement and brings BDS leaders to its conferences and college campuses?  Why did ADL not criticize J Street for such actions?

Does ADL agree with J Street’s “BDS principles” (on J Street’s website) which state that J Street does NOT oppose boycotting Jewish businesses and Jews living on what J Street calls “occupied territory beyond the Green Line” (a euphemism for the historic Jewish areas that Israel recaptured in a defensive war, of eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan)?  

Does ADL agree with J Street’s “BDS principle” that:  “J Street is opposed to rhetoric that refers to the Global BDS Movement as a form of terrorism or violence”?   Particularly when global BDS actions are at times accompanied by violence, such as raiding European grocery stores to remove and destroy Israeli produce and other products?  

Does ADL believe that J Street’s foregoing principles place J Street at the front line of defense against BDS?

9.  Greenblatt also stated during his J Street speech:  “Perhaps in the past there has been a shortcoming of the Jewish establishment to allow for robust debate, to create a safe space for all of us to talk, a big tent that respects the views of all parties. I believe that healthy dialogue is a Jewish value and see you as part of that dialogue and, I am standing before you today, bearing witness to that value. But make no mistake, we should not – you should not – allow others to thrive by exploiting our commitment to debate and dissent to stoke division in our community.”  

What limits, if any, does ADL put on a “big tent”?  Do groups that promote BDS, or malign the IDF with falsehoods belong in the big tent?  

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10.  During his speech to the student ambassadors at the UN on Tuesday May 31, 2016 (reprinted on ADL’s website at: http://www.adl.org/press-center/c/remarks-by-jonathan-greenblatt-un-stopbds-summit.html), ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt spoke of a Palestinian Arab “right to self-determination” (a euphemism for a sovereign state) in the Jewish homeland that is “co-equal” to that of the Jewish people.  Greenblatt said:  “since the outset of the peace process in the early 90s under the auspices of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, Israel has engaged in negotiations whose ultimate outcome would be the emergence of a Palestinian state which would be the embodiment of the Palestinians coequal right to self-determination.”

In fact, Yitzhak Rabin specifically described the Oslo accords and peace process as follows:  “We view the permanent solution” as “a State of Israel which will include most of the land of Israel as it was under the British Mandate,” including “first and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty” and “blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria”; assurance of the settlements’ security; and no return to the (indefensible) pre-1967 Armistice lines; alongside an “entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority” (the Palestinian Authority, or PA), subject to Israeli security control.  See Yitzhak Rabin, Statement to the Knesset on Ratification of the Oslo Peace Accords, Oct. 5, 1995).

Is it still ADL’s position that Palestinian Arabs have “co-equal rights” to a sovereign state in Israel?   If not, is ADL/Greenblatt willing to publicly revise Greenblatt’s statement? 

11.Why did ADL vote for Soros funded extremist  J Street to become a member of Conference of Presidents?

Please assure ADL that ZOA does not want to fight with ADL (and that ZOA is not in financial straits).   ZOA wants to work together with ADL on anti-BDS issues.  ZOA simply urges the ADL to adopt positions that help – and do no harm to anti-BDS efforts.  



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