The ADL no longer seems to speak for Jews

It seems the Jewish community has lost a defense organization to the politics of progressivism, as in ADL's attack on Tucker Carlson.Op-ed.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer ,

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson
Reuters
Back in the mid-to-late Nineteenth and very early Twentieth Century, a huge immigration was apace in America — from China, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Eastern Europe. Whereas there had been 250,000 Jews in America by 1880, an influx to the United States of 3.25 million Jews from Eastern Europe between 1881-1914 changed the complexion of American Jewry. It changed from a mostly westernized, non-religious or Reform Judaism-based German-descending community, centered significantly amid such Midwestern German Protestant populations as Cincinnati, into an East European community of New York-based immigrants who spoke little English, knew little of the West, and came with deep-rooted Orthodox Jewish religious practices or with no religion at all.

When those 3.25 million arrived during those three frantic decades between the assassination of Tsar Alexander II and the start of WWI, they were greeted by the Jewish social welfare agencies that were just being created by the now-established German Jews who had preceded them here.

It was a strange love-hate thing. In those days, America did not heap benefits on destitute newcomers. Therefore, on the one hand, the established German Jewish agencies in America truly wanted to help their fellow Jews avoid starvation. They also did not want newspaper headlines about millions of newly arriving Jews draining the economy. On a deeper level, the landed and assimilated German-American Jews desperately raced to rid the immigrants of their religious beliefs and values that made them seem so “different.”

The German Jews fretted that the sudden appearance in America of millions of Orthodox Jews, with strange religious practices and wearing quaint clothes and sporting ancient hairstyles, would incentivize anti-Semitism to a degree hitherto unknown here. So they worked feverishly to assimilate the East European arrivals. Julia Richman, the Superintendent of the New York City public schools in the Lower East Side, gave teachers orders to grab any child heard speaking Yiddish in the school hallways and to wash the child’s mouth out with soap. Minnie Lewis stood on street corners, offering children free cookies if they would let her cut their extended sideburns. Efforts were made to convert the young immigrant generation from their parents’ religious Orthodoxy to Reform Judaism, a theology akin to Unitarianism where pork is eaten and intermarriage is boasted.

It really was quite love-hate. The German Jews built Jewish hospitals like Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City because Jewish doctors still were being barred from practicing elsewhere. And yet those same Jews then initially barred the children of East European immigrants from practicing at Mount Sinai. While German Jews who had business sense went into investing and finance, they tried persuading the East European immigrants to move to Vineland, New Jersey and to the Catskill Mountains beyond New York’s boroughs to be farmers. That would get tens of thousands of East European Jews out of view, out of sight, out of mind — and also might counter the stereotype of Jews as financiers once the immigrants succeeded as farmers.

To be sure, the German Jews did not send their own kids to farm in Vineland and in the Catskills. And the projects failed miserably. The immigrant Jews in Vineland ended up getting Ph.D.s in agricultural science and publishing magazines about farming, while the ones in the Catskills ended up turning their farm houses into small restaurants, then bigger ones, and then into resort hotels where other Jews, denied other job or career opportunities because of discrimination, became stand-up comedians.

And so it went. To get the East Europeans out of sight, the German Jewish agencies even shipped ten thousand more of the immigrants from New York to Galveston, Texas. When other American men’s fraternities barred the wave of Jews who came in from Germany, they formed B’nai B’rith fraternal lodges. And then, initially, those lodges barred East European Jews. Many, though not all, historians believe the very epithet “Kike” first gained currency in the German-American community.

But when Jews came under anti-Semitic attack, that was a time to pull together. Jew-haters do not distinguish between East European Jews and German Jews, Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews. They just hate blindly and irrationally. The stereotypes are crazy and contradictory. Disgruntled tenants will complain about the Jewish landlord, and disgruntled landlords about the Jewish tenant. Haters among the Communists, as typified by the worst Jew-hater of them all, Karl Marx, accused all Jews of being capitalists who live for mammon, a Hebrew word for money. (Marx did not regard himself as Jewish and hated Jews. His father had converted to Protestantism.) Haters among Capitalists meanwhile accused all Jews of being Communists. How confusing it must have been for such haters in the 1970s, as Jews emerged as the single most anti-Soviet demographic in America.

As Jews arrived in larger numbers, new forms of anti-Semitism emerged. Some were the subtle “Gentleman’s Agreement” version that kept Jews out of hotels and country clubs into the 1960s. When, amid the Great Depression, one famous “restricted” Beverly Hills country club decided that, with so many of their white-shoe Christian members going bankrupt, they needed finally to allow Hollywood Jews in as dues-paying members, Groucho Marx famously said that he would not join any club that wanted him as a member. Many think he was being cleverly witty Groucho, but he was not joking; he knew why they suddenly wanted him, and he wanted no part of that. He had no problem joining the Hillcrest country club that Jews established as their alternative.

In 1913 Atlanta, Georgia, anti-Semitism took a dramatic new turn. It was the Georgia of Tom Watson and the KKK. A young girl was found strangled in the basement of a local pencil factory. Without evidence to justify the accusations, just suspicions and unsubstantiated claims, a public hate campaign spurred by Watson, amid other factors, led to the arrest of the factory manager, a New York Jew who had moved down there to assume the job. After arriving, he had become president of the Atlanta B’nai B’rith. That Jew, Leo Frank, was put on a show trial and was convicted amid mob violence outside the courtroom. He was sentenced to death. The governor, John Slaton, whose name had been bandied about as potential Vice Presidential material, heroically brought his rising political career to an abrupt end by commuting Frank’s sentence. His life and family threatened, Slaton had to leave Georgia for ten years. Meanwhile, armed Jew-haters invaded the jail where Frank was being held, kidnaped him, and lynched him in August 1915 in Marietta, Georgia.

Thus emerged the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith to defend German Jews in America and East European Jews because anti-Semites do not distinguish. For the next century, ADL became identified with Jewish legal defense.

But this no longer is the case. As Jew-hatred of the lynch-mob sort abated in America, ADL increasingly lost sight of its fundamental purpose. Expanding its mission to focus on opposing other forms of hate, ADL became more of a general all-purpose human-rights organization. That can be a good thing if implemented fairly. Unfortunately, ADL’s demise as a Jewish organization was cemented in July 2015, ironically almost one hundred years to the day of the Leo Frank lynching, when they named Jonathan Greenblatt as their new national director. Greenblatt, a “progressive,” had just served as Special Assistant to the President in the Obama White House. From the day that he arrived, he converted the ADL into a markedly left-focused organization. Under Greenblatt, ADL has focused almost exclusively on combating right-wing hate and also attacking conservative non-haters among Republicans, Fox News anchors, and the like — while giving little attention to the Left.

For example, ADL presented data on anti-Semitism during the Trump presidency that defied reality. In one case, they reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents during Trump’s first year when other data showed a decrease. In blaming Trump’s emergence, they included in their tally some 150 bomb threats made to Jewish institutions by a mentally disturbed Israeli Jewish teen who ultimately was convicted by a Tel Aviv court of phoning in thousands of such threats from overseas.

The slow demise of ADL as a Jewish organization has been mourned for the past five years. Seth Mandel has written about it in Commentary. Liel Leibovitz, another leading American Jewish commentator, wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal. Investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield exposed further details in David Horowitz’s Frontpage Mag. Likewise Andrew Harrod in Jihad Watch, and the Orthodox Jewish online source, Matzav. Most recently, Jonathan Tobin has written about ADL’s pronouncedly left bias and “overhyped statistics” in several articles in JNS, a national Jewish news service.

In an era when White Supremacist hate stands alongside an extraordinarily perilous outbreak of rabidly anti-Jewish hate on the Left, especially on American college campuses with the Nazi-like BDS movement to boycott the one country in the world with a Jewish majority, and increasingly among Democrats in Congress like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and others, it seems that the Jewish community has lost a defense organization to the politics of unbridled progressivism. But that is the reality of the day.

It has had to fall on the Coalition for Jewish Values, representing 1,500 American traditional rabbis, to speak out against Greenblatt’s and ADL’s totally unjustified attack on Tucker Carlson for his condemning what he described as Biden’s effort to import millions of new voters to “replace” the landed electorate by imbalancing future American elections. Carlson is absolutely correct. Voter “replacement” is exactly, precisely what the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer Democrats now are endeavoring to do, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s nine seats next in their sights.

One looks at the conservative red California that once dependably elected governors like Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, and Pete Wilson. Or at Nevada and Arizona, dependably Republican until supplanted by the coordinated Democrat effort to open the borders and then to convince the likes of even a Reagan, and certainly Bushes, to grant mass amnesties and rapid “paths leading to citizenship” — i.e., paths leading to voting for the party that promises unlimited government pay-outs and services. We now are watching, before our very eyes, a concerted effort to replace the electorate that was electing Republicans.

How can anyone objective not see what is happening? The reason that Biden insists that the chaos at the border is not a “crisis” is plain to see: it is planned chaos, aimed at overrunning the system to leave no choice but to move millions of future Democrat voters ultimately into states where they can turn those tides as they have in the American Southwest. Along with aiming to add two new guaranteed Democrat states, thus four new U.S. Senators, and packing the U.S. Supreme Court, it marks a concerted Democrat effort to turn the entire country into one-party rule.

Yes, White Supremacist haters in Charlottesville spoke of “replacement” theory, and they falsely and wrongly targeted the slogan with bigotry. But all because a White Supremacist says that it gets warm in the summer and cold in the winter does not mean that Tucker Carlson is racist for observing the same weather patterns. If White Supremacists oppose tax increases that does not make it racism for normal people to oppose tax increases, too.

ADL’s attack on Tucker Carlson must be deplored. As 1,500 Orthodox rabbis have made clear — and as that message has been reported across online news media but suppressed uniformly by the Left mainstream media — ADL does not speak for all of American Jewry and is no longer a Jewish cause-focused organization.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .



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