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May 27, 2016 2:30 am

The Troubling Record of ADL Leader Jonathan Greenblatt

avatar by Isi Leibler

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Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the ADL Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on November 6, 2014. Photo: ADL.

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the ADL Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on November 6, 2014. Photo: ADL.

Jonathan Greenblatt’s response to my criticism of his embrace of J Street, alleging that I distorted his message, is disingenuous and reaffirms my original assessment.

Invoking clichés “that there are steps Israel can take to ensure the viability of a two-state solution” are ill-becoming the head of a major Jewish organization whose contact with Israel has been minimal. It only serves to encourage US President Barack Obama and the heads of other governments to intensify pressure against us. Greenblatt is surely aware that there is a consensus in Israel supporting immediate separation from the Palestinians, but also a recognition that further unilateral concessions in the absence of a genuine peace partner would endanger our security.

Greenblatt explicitly condemned Jews who deny the rights of “marginalized Palestinians” and fail to recognize the legitimacy of “the Palestinian narrative.” When he condemned “those who place blame on one side instead of putting forward solutions that acknowledge the role and responsibility of both sides,” he provided grist for the propaganda mills of those applying moral equivalence to Israelis and the Palestinians sanctifying terrorism and bent on our destruction. Greenblatt now reiterates (as I initially stated) that in his address to J Street, he also made remarks supporting Israel and condemning antisemitism. So what?

Jewish communists, the antecedents of J Street, also described themselves as “pro-peace” and defended Soviet antisemitism while portraying themselves as “pro-Jewish.” Likewise, J Street claims to be “pro-Israel” despite raising funds to support anti-Israeli congressional candidates, lobbying the Obama administration to exert further pressure on Israel, accepting generous funding from George Soros to support the government’s appeasement of Iran, and constantly condemning the security policies of the Israeli government.

Greenblatt cannot refute this. Does he really believe that Jews whose principal objective is to undermine and demonize Israel and encourage foreign intervention should still be considered members of the mainstream of the Jewish community and included in the big tent? Would the ADL seek to address and engage in dialogue with Jews promoting racism or homophobia?

The ADL national director goes further. He endorses the Black Lives Matter movement despite its open hostility to Israel. He also laments that the viciously anti-Israeli fringe group If Not Now is denied “safe space” for discourse and has informed them that the ADL “shares your commitment to change.”

Likewise, Greenblatt claims that the J Street group he addressed comprised “deeply thoughtful college students whose commitment to Israel is genuine and whose passion on the issue is impressive.” His objective is to maintain “a true sense of community and inclusion” with them.

Setting aside the legitimacy provided to J Street when endorsed by the head of a major Jewish body, one would have expected Greenblatt to spell out realities to these youngsters rather than praising them and engaging in kumbaya. He should surely have admonished them and explained why it is utterly immoral for Diaspora Jews to publicly campaign against security-related policies with life-and-death implications endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.

Furthermore, as head of the organization whose principal mandate is to combat antisemitism, Greenblatt should have focused his address on emphasizing how despicable it was for students to demonize Israel while their Jewish student peers at many campuses were subjected to unprecedented waves of anti-Israeli incitement and antisemitism.

Instead, Greenblatt nonsensically justifies his position, stating that “disagreement and dissent are not Jewish ideas — they are Jewish ideals.” In other words, Jews who defame Israel and canvas foreign governments to intensify pressure on the Jewish state should be welcomed.

He goes one step further and says, “Whether Leibler likes it or not, these are the future leaders in our community and country.” Well, like any committed Jew, I certainly would not “like it.” And if Greenblatt endorses people sharing the views of J Street heading our community, the ADL Board would be well advised to have a serious chat with him.

With the current surge of violent global antisemitism which has already impacted on Jewish students at many American campuses, there is an urgent need for a powerful Jewish body dedicated to fighting antisemitism.

The ADL’s task is not to provide advice to Israel on security issues. Nor should it purport to speak on behalf of the Jewish community on broad social issues concerning which Jews share different opinions. It should concentrate more on Islamic terrorism rather than highlighting so-called Islamophobia, which poses far less of a problem than antisemitism. While it should broadly condemn all forms of discrimination, its principal role today must be to concentrate on its primary mandate, which is to combat antisemitism.

Isi Leibler may be contacted at This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post.  

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • garyfouse

    And I thought Foxman was bad. Wow.

  • Robby

    Greenblatt is rapidly destroying the ADL.

  • Susan

    This is the man who succeeded Abraham Foxman to head up the ADL?? Who on earth picked him? Foxman must be plotzing – his life’s work turned on its head. My mother always said that we’re our own worst enemy. And she was right.

  • howiej

    Mr. Greenblatt should show his commitment to Israel and the Jewish people and that of the ADL by going to the University of California at Irbine and filing charges against the organizations and individuals who violated rules and laws when preventing the presentation of the film “Beneath the Helmet” and assaulting students.

  • Zg

    Agreed! !!

  • Howard Wohl

    Mr Liebler doth protest too much. If we are to win the battle for the Jewish People and for the Jewish democratic State of Israel, we should be honest with ourselves and with those we would like to influence. Liebler seems to think that any disapproval of the Israeli government is simply aiding the enemy even when he chooses to believe that the enemy is us. Unless he believes that treating Israeli citizens who happen to be Jewish but not sufficiently so, according to the anti-Zionist rabbinate (yes, the same individuals who don’t pay their fair share of the Nation’s taxes, avoid defending the State of Israel), and demo using its Arab citizens is what we should ignore, we will be destroying the ties between a Diaspora Jewry and Israel. So, once again, we have a so-called pro-Israel Jew who willingly cast aside Jews who have honest disagreements with a right-wing government that favors The most extreme elements of society. Once again, we have Jews who would rather delegitimize other Jews than confront the real issues. These are the same individuals who give their support to a vacuous candidate for President who demonizes Jews but whose hatred for Hillary and Barack outweighs any common sense. I will trust in Greenblatt any time rather than throw my lot with those who spew hatred and stoke up anti-Semites. Enough with the Algermeiner providing space for Jews who are so determined in their thinking that they will take the most obscene course that would unfortunately leads to our self-destruction.

  • stevenl

    Many looking everyday in a mirror always fail to recognize themselves as anti-Semites!

  • Ephraim

    It is really depressing that there are so many self-haters around, and that so many of them hold positions of power. When their terrorist buddies are finished killing Israel off, G-d forbid, then they will come after the Greenblatts of this world. ‘Oh Muslim, there is a Greenblatt behind me, come and kill him.’

  • Lois Feinberg

    What kind of organization have I been contributing to? No more as long as Jonathan Greenblatt is director.