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June 28, 2016 1:11 am

Why Does the ADL Continue to Hinder Anti-BDS Efforts?

avatar by Mort Klein & Liz Berney

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Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Photo: ADL.

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Photo: ADL.

The anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) campaign is hateful, antisemitic economic activity that is designed to delegitimize, economically destroy and culturally and academically isolate the Jewish state.

Pro-Israel groups need to work together to combat the BDS onslaught, using every tool at our disposal — including legal action and anti-BDS laws — to curtail discriminatory BDS economic activity. Our organization, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), frequently collaborates with other pro-Israel organizations.

It thus deeply saddens us that a major organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — with a $58 million annual budget — whose mission includes combating antisemitism, has repeatedly harmed anti-BDS efforts by publicly opposing and lobbying against needed federal and state anti-BDS laws.

For instance, ADL wrote to the chairman of the Maryland State Legislature’s Appropriations Committee stating that its anti-BDS bill would “interfere with academic freedom,” and submitted testimony to the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, asserting that a Maryland anti-BDS bill “suppresses academic freedom and chills speech.”

In the midst of efforts to pass state anti-BDS contracting and pension bills that had virtually nothing to do with free speech, the ADL published a statement opposing anti-BDS legislation on free speech grounds. And on July 28, 2015, the ADL opposed Federal anti-BDS legislation in an ADL letter to the Chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security. In addition, a February 29, 2016, Forward article noted, “Asked whether he was suggesting that BDS was a law enforcement matter, [ADL head Jonathan] Greenblatt said no.”

The ADL’s lobbying activities and statements opposing anti-BDS laws have had a wide impact. The Massachusetts anti-Israel “freedom to boycott” coalition’s supporters quoted and used the ADL’s condemnation of anti-BDS laws in order to oppose Massachusetts’ proposed anti-BDS law. Pro-Israel experts (and the ZOA) have had to waste time counteracting ADL’s articles with our own.

It is now rumored that BDS groups are planning to attack an anti-BDS executive order in court. BDS groups may very well use the ADL’s misguided statements to attempt to overturn recently enacted laws and an executive order aimed at protecting Israel from the scourge of BDS. The time has thus come for the ADL to publicly retract or revise its former statements opposing anti-BDS laws, and to acknowledge that many forms of anti-BDS laws are legal.

Many anti-BDS laws simply deal with discriminatory BDS economic activity, and are thus constitutional. Moreover, in Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991), the US Supreme Court held that the 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.”

In instances when an anti-BDS law may be poorly drafted, the ADL should simply work together with pro-Israel groups on language that assures that the bill will be strong, effective and constitutional. “Throwing out the baby with the bath water,” or demanding that an effective bill be replaced with a non-binding resolution, is not the answer.

It is also disappointing that the ADL has thus far failed to oppose a major BDS “divide and conquer” tactic: so-called “targeted” BDS against Jews and Jewish businesses and cultural and academic institutions in Judea and Samaria. The Forward recently reported that when asked whether the ADL opposes BDS against Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria, an ADL spokesman responded: “We’re studying it.”

The time for sitting on the sidelines has long since passed. BDS against Jews in Judea/Samaria is clearly antisemitic discrimination, and has been ongoing for years already. An organization whose mission includes combating antisemitism should combat antisemitic discrimination wherever it is found — including in the historic Jewish areas of Judea/Samaria.

The ADL issued a press release last October praising New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order protecting transgender people from discrimination. Would the ADL ever question or need to “study” whether transgender discrimination protections should depend on where a transgender person lives? Why is protecting Jews from discrimination any different?

“Targeted” BDS against Jews and Jewish businesses and cultural and academic institutions in Judea/Samaria harms Jews’ and Arabs’ employment opportunities, harms all of Israel, and leads to BDS efforts against all of Israel. For instance, in 2010, “Partners for Progressive Israel” (PPI) started promoting “targeted” boycotts against Jewish-owned businesses and arts centers and universities in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Then, in 2015, PPI expanded its boycott to all of Israel, stating that: “The economy of the settlements and of the West Bank is too intertwined with the Israeli economy as a whole for it to be possible to limit the boycott to products of the settlements.”

The “targets” of “targeted” BDS are real people — Jews and Arabs who are simply trying to study and earn an honest living, such as the more than 50,000 Jews living in Ma’ale Adumim (a suburb in Judea/Samaria that is directly adjacent to Jerusalem), and Ariel University’s 15,000 students (including its large Arab student population) and the surrounding university community.

The ZOA hopes and prays that the ADL will become a true partner in the efforts to protect the Jewish people — and everyone — harmed by BDS.

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  • al talena

    Time to boycott the anti anti BDS i.e. ADL

    • The Bible prophecies had already spoken on this ADL, J Street and similar organization: “Mecharvayich U’Messanayich Mimech Yetseu” or in plain English: Your destroyers and haters will come forth from you.
      Enough said.

  • You are trying to say black is white and white is black.
    You write “BDS against Jews in Judea/Samaria is clearly antisemitic discrimination, and has been ongoing for years already”.
    Objection to Jewish civilian colonialisation of the West Bank is NOT antisemitic at all. I would know – I am a proud Jewish Zionist, who fought in many Israeli wars of defense, and I am totally against civilian settlement in the West Bank. Because it is the most effective ongiong act of self-destruction that our messianic right wing has been able to come up with.
    There definitely IS antisemitism. And anti-zionism. But the continued cevilian jewush settlement of the West Bank, supported only by force of arms, is the most destructive possible way toproceed – because it enables all the unjustifiable vies and deeds of our enemies to present justification of their views.
    No matter how well we may protest the behaviour of our Palestinian neighbours and international BDS activity, the fact remains that we Israelis are imposing ourselves on another people by force of arms, and trying to justify it with a 3000 year old statement by God to Abraham. REALLY ?
    Our continued settlement of the West Bank may well destroy the Jewish state. We are passing our original moral strength to the Palestinians, and providing wonderful ammunition to our enemies.

    • Mike

      Where does it say the “West Bank” belongs to “Palestinians”? If you are going to quote the Bible then how about calling the so called West Bank as it is called in the Bible – Yehuda and Shomron.

      Even if there were so called Palestinians and the so called West Bank belongs to them why are you advocating Yudenrein areas. Don’t arabs live peacefully in Israel? Why can’t Jews live peacefully wherever they want?

      If you think that is the cause of antisemitism then you need to get your head examined.

  • Steve B.

    Did it escape from veryone’s notice that the new director of ADLi an Obamaite?

    • I would have been shocked to learn otherwise. Only being an Obamaite could explain this strong tendency towards Jewish self-annihilation.

  • Eric R.

    The ADL, like all so-called “Civil Rights” and “Human Rights” organizations – NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, SPLC, AI, HRW – are merely left-wing propaganda organizations masquerading as rights groups.

    In their morally warped world, only Jews, Christians and conservatives can commit rights violations while Muslims, leftists and protected groups – blacks, gays, Hispanics – are always the victims.

  • Ephraim

    It is simple. The ADL is still the ADL, it is just against the defaming of the antisemites rather than the Jews.

  • It’s for “Leftish” (rather than Jewish) behavior on the part of ADL that I no longer donate anything to it and urge all
    of my friends and partners in Cross-Cultural Communications to donate instead to other more worthy and truly supportive of Am Yisrael organizations (e.g., ZOA, IDF, ARMDI).

  • For several years now I have maintained that the ADL was worse than useless. At first it seemed that they were stuck in a extreme-right-wing-is-the-only-enemy of the Jewish people, as though they couldn’t make the necessary paradigm shift to understand the reality of the incredibly deadly threats of the Left working with Islam.

    Abraham Foxman came out with a shameful letter in the Washington Post a couple of years ago virtually exonerating and denying that Islam itself is a problem.

    I have received solicitations from the ADL, and I have sent them my extremely disappointed and disgusted response on a number of occasions. They no longer send me requests.

    This article, which is very informative, tells me that it’s WORSE than I even realized.

    Something is very sick and rotten with the ADL. It should be disbanded for precious monies to go to groups like the ZOA, Simon Wiesenthal Center, EMET, Shurat HaDin, and many other groups who are competently and clearly understand where this existentialist fight for the lives of the Jewish people and the State of Israel must be taken.

    The ADL is a disgrace, and it’s well past due to get the word out, so Jewish monies given by good-willed people, will go to far more worthy organizations.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Hamanslayer

    Over the years, under the previous CEO, the ADL engaged in some controversial actions, but also had some impressive accomplishments. By and large, American Jews appreciated and supported the ADL.

    Over the same years, the ZOA under Morton Klein tried hard to persuade American Jews that the are the best organization connecting them to Israel, and are the most devoted watchdog in America defending Israeli interests.

    Now, it seems Mr. Klein is being a diplomat with circumspect criticism of ADL, while the latter, under its new CEO, is pandering to anti-Israel and leftist “progressive” Jews and anti-Semites by acting as though it is a subsidiary of the ACLU comitted to protecting “Free Speech.”

    I believe, and certainly hope, that past supporters of the ADL will withhold financial support both be a use they do not want their money to help support the cursed BdS (drop the little d), and to show their disapproval of the direction the ADL is Taki g under Greenblatt

  • Reuven

    The ADL is self-destructing. It thinks anti-Israel political correctness is the way to go. It is totally wrong. If it doesn’t get new leadership and quickly change directions, it will become a miniscule group of no importance.

  • Isahiah62

    the short answer why ADL does not support stopping BDS?
    they are Democrats

    • You hit the nail on the head. Democrats and the Left Wing. Water carriers for Islam.

      I just wish we had access to ADL’s mailing lists to disseminate this article to all the people who are being defrauded into giving the ADL its $58 million dollar budget.

  • Dovid Herz

    The DAL no longer is fighting anti-Semitism, but has become a mouth piece of the PC left. The ADL cannot be trusted anymore!

  • brenrod

    ADL has long ago become a false front of Jews… follow where it gets its money from… it is beholden to muslim and gov grants and is paid to do more against islamaphobia than for BDS. They should not be allowed to raise money from Jews

    • jerry nachison

      brenrod, I am not an ADL supporter, but for your offensive claim it is beholden to muslims and gov’t grants, what are your facts? List them! And don’t cite CAIR.