The ADL is offering a reward of up to $7,500 for information surrounding two recent assaults against Chassidim in Williamsburg. Two days ago, Scott Richman, the ADL regional director for NY/NJ, said, “Attacks against visibly identifiable Jews here in New York and New Jersey have become practically a weekly occurrence.”
The reward seems an admirable gesture. However, anyone who has been following the political trajectory of the ADL will understand why such an offer is not only too little too late but two-faced as well.
The ADL professes to have “unquestioned credibility” in the fight “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” For those who don’t know any better about the subject, which includes the majority of Americans, their trustworthiness goes unquestioned.
What the majority of Americans probably do not know is that the ADL of today is not our parents’ ADL. What might have once begun as a mission to protect America’s Jewish people has morphed into a progressive outfit parading as a Jewish watchman.
The ADL’s obsession with securing “justice and fair treatment to all” seems to have eclipsed their involvement with anti-Semitism. And their promotion of progressive policies has likely contributed to the environment that those “identifiable Jews” now find themselves in.
Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s chief executive, has been at the forefront of America’s far-left preoccupation with identity politics. Official ADL statements read like a handbook of far-left agendas. The ADL website lists 18 objectives on their to-do list, of which only three are related to Jews. The rest is a litany of progressive talking points including Race and Racial Justice, Criminal Justice Reform, Voting Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Immigrant and Refugee Rights, etc.
The ADL’s Children’s Literature section suggests books for children and presents a Book of the Month. Over the past two years, only one book had a Jewish related theme and it was a Chanukah story. Over 20 books explored Black pride, racial profiling, deportation, racial diversity and equity, LGBTQ rights, bullying, and books about Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama.
While Greenblatt did remark in November that he “worries” about anti-Semitism on the left that is “slowly, subtly” occurring, he then followed it up with new appointees whose bios read like a who’s who of intersectionality grievance delegates. This intersectionality increasingly views Jews as members of white exploiters and Israel as the occupier of people of color. And there hasn’t been anything “slow” about it.
Neither is there anything “subtle” in Tema Smith, recently appointed as ADL’s Director of Jewish Outreach. A longtime Israel basher, Smith wrote in 2020 that “Jews have to be ok with Palestinian Arabs explaining why some turn to terrorism.” She has claimed that there is no such thing as black anti-Semitism and attacked Jews as being racist for opposing Critical Race Theory.
Michael Sheetz, who served as lead counsel in litigation to enhance racial diversity in Boston public schools, was just appointed President of the ADL Foundation. And last month the ADL announced a new fellowship for Jews of Color with six inaugural social justice warriors.
Add to the mix the ADL’s enthusiastic embrace in 2020 of BLM, a now scandal-ridden organization. This included a #JusticeShabbat initiative and statements that the “Black community…is subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system” and a call to “join the call for immediate accountability, justice and action to dismantle systemic racism in the U.S.”
Then there’s the ADL’s foray into the Whoopi Goldberg fiasco, in which she was trounced for claiming on “The View” that race was not a factor in the Holocaust and that Nazis and Jews “are two White groups of people”.
Goldberg’s assertion earned her a slap on the wrist from ABC in the form of a two-week paid leave. But not before Greenblatt went on the show to gently explain to Goldberg, who is Black, that indeed the Holocaust was perpetrated against the Jewish people, whom the Nazis deemed to be “an inferior race”. That is curious, because it’s not what he purported to believe at the time.
The ADL had long defined racism as: “the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person's social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics." But in the throes of the BLM race riots in the summer of 2020, the ADL revised its definition of racism to read: "The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people."
But the head of an organization that supports Critical Race Theory could not scold Goldberg for denying racism in the Holocaust if his own organization’s definition is a claim to the contrary. So last Friday, the ADL made another U-turn and revised the definition yet again. It now says: "Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity."
Just to stay on the safe side, the ADL asserted that this new definition is only an “interim” one. Allowing for another day, another interpretation.
Anyone following this flipflopping might understandably be suffering from ideological whiplash. Apparently, the organization that views itself as the leader in fighting anti-Semitism can’t make up its mind about an immutable aim.
All these reversals might be comical if they did not have such weighty consequences. This fixation with people of color seems to ignore the fact that the crimes against “identifiable Jews” are being perpetrated mainly by people of color. Especially in New York City. The ADL’s own part in the racism narrative regarding law and order and the pursuit of “racial equity” has helped foment an atmosphere in which they now find themselves forced to offer that $7,500 reward.
There is a Talmudic dictum that states, “Ein kateigor na’aseh saneigor”, (“a prosecutor cannot become a defender”). The ADL’s accusations of white oppression and systemic racism have contributed to soft on crime laws that dominate left-run cities and cause rampant crime. In not such an uncircuitous route, they have enabled the “weekly” anti-Semitic attacks that they now condemn.
The irony is not wasted on Williamsburg’s victims. If attacks against “identifiable Jews” persist, they should not be looking to the ADL for protection.
Sara Lehmannis an award-winning New York based columnist and interviewer. Before joining Hamodia in 2018, she was a long-time writer for The Jewish Press. Her writings, which can be seen at saralehmann.com, have been published in The Jerusalem Post, JNS, Times of Israel, Arutz Sheva, The Daily Caller and other publications.