ADL Chief ‘Deeply Upset, Troubled’ by Presence of Anti-Israel Groups Among Signatories of Statement It Endorsed Defending US Muslim Community
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said on Monday he was “deeply upset” and “troubled” after discovering that a public statement opposing anti-Muslim bigotry which his organization recently endorsed was also signed by a number of radical anti-Israel groups.
“We would not sign onto any letter alongside these organizations intentionally,” Greenblatt told The Algemeiner.
The statement — an initiative of Muslim Advocates, a Washington, DC-based legal organization — was addressed to a number of mayors around the country and urged them to speak out against “March Against Sharia” events held on Saturday by ACT for America, a national security advocacy organization described in the statement as “the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group.”
ACT for America strongly disputes that label. On its website, it pointed out it had canceled a planned event in Arkansas after finding out that one of the local organizers was associated with white supremacist groups. The organization — which was founded by Lebanese-born conservative journalist and activist Brigitte Gabriel — said its “nationwide marches are in support of basic human rights for all — and against the horrific treatment of women, children, and members of the LGBTQ community that is sanctioned by Sharia law.”
A number of centrist religious and human rights groups signed onto the Muslim Advocates statement, including The National Council of La Raza and The Sikh Coalition. As well as the ADL, Jewish signatories included the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women.
But the final list of signatories included a number of marginal groups known for their support of the BDS campaign and similar efforts to promote the view that the State of Israel has no right to exist. Among them was “Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP) — a stridently anti-Zionist fringe group that encourages its members to mourn the creation of the State of Israel on Tisha B’Av, a Jewish fast day that commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Five members of JVP were arrested at the Salute to Israel parade in New York City last Sunday after they violently intimidated a pro-Israel contingent from the LGBT community.
Also among the signatories was the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a Washington, DC-based group that frequently lobbies on behalf of the Tehran regime, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization that supports BDS, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas as well as for the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Algemeiner has learned that ADL was approached early on in the solicitation process and that the majority of other groups appended their signatures later. The ADL was not shown a final copy of the statement with all the signatories before it was published on Friday.
Greenblatt acknowledged the ADL would have to “exercise greater caution” in future before lending its name to other statements with multiple signatories. He expressed support for the substance of the Muslim Advocates statement, saying that the anti-Sharia marches “were hostile and exhibited a high degree of intolerance for Muslims in general, and that’s why we spoke up.”
The ADL chief argued that the main goal of groups like JVP in signing such statements was to “move from the margins to the mainstream by inserting themselves into the center of the public conversation as a way to legitimize themselves.”
“We cannot allow the radical left to hijack well-intended efforts like this one,” Greenblatt stated. It was imperative, he continued, to avoid a situation where individuals and groups from the political center “feel forced to leave rather than abandon their principles.”
“We’re going to be a lot more careful, but we are not going to surrender the center to the extremists,” Greenblatt said. “We cannot allow fringe groups to capitalize on our halo.”