July 5, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Criticizes Attempt by ADL, Quoted by CNN, to Wrongly Link Pres. Trump to Wrestling Video Creator

ADL Should Direct Its “Mainstreaming Anti-Semitism” Charges to Haters Like Linda Sarsour and Keith Ellison
Pres. Donald Trump, Photo Cred: Michael Vadon

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

It is extremely hurtful, painful and unfair to imply that a friend of the Jewish people is connected to anti-Semitism.   The “Trump v. CNN” wrestling video meme tweeted by President Trump on Sunday morning had absolutely no anti-Semitic content, and no anti-Semitic implications.  It shows Donald Trump pretend-wrestling to the floor a man with a “CNN logo” covering his head, using footage from the “Trump v. McMahon” “Battle of the Billionaires” staged wrestling match years ago.  President Trump’s tweet gave no one credit for the meme.  The president’s posting was uploaded directly; it was not reposted from Reddit or any other site, and differed from a similar Reddit post.

It is thus disturbing that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a press release entitled “ADL Analysis: Reddit User Who Took Credit for Trump’s CNN Video Has History of Racist and Violent Posts,” seemed to accuse President Trump of providing unwarranted mainstream attention to (what was in fact unrelated) anti-Semitic messaging memes posted on Reddit by an unnamed alleged creator of a different version of the “Trump v. CNN” wrestling video meme. 

It’s bizarre and unfair to accuse President Trump of giving mainstream attention to someone whom the president did not name, give credit to, or link to, and who was likely completely unbeknownst to the president.

The “Trump v. CNN” wrestling video meme tweeted by President Trump on Sunday morning had absolutely no anti-Semitic content, and no anti-Semitic implications.

It is also disappointing that CNN broadcasted a segment that appeared to give credibility to the ADL’s unfair, speculative “anti-Semitism” implication.  In a segment entitled “Apparent Origin of Trump Wrestling Video Raises Questions,” CNN stated: “But others are worried, including the Anti-Defamation League, which surveyed the [Reddit] user’s posts and found a consistent record of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.  This individual traffics in online hatred and at times violent rhetoric.  And the ADL seems to call out the president, saying: ‘When those on the fringes of society feel their messaging is getting mainstream attention, that should raise alarms.’”

CNN appropriately noted however that: “this video [tweeted by Trump] is not exactly the one posted by that Reddit user.” 

President Trump’s Strong Support for Jews and Israel:

It is especially unfair to imply that President Trump is connected to anti-Semitism, in light of the president’s strong efforts to combat anti-Semitism, his support for Israel, and his Orthodox Jewish daughter, son-in-law and beloved grandchildren. 

This past March, in the space of just a week, President Trump and his administration issued half a dozen strong statements condemning threats against U.S. Jewish institutions, and offered heightened support to American Jewish institutions, including “training, protective measures, exercises, and information sharing.”  (See “Trump Administration’s Strong Statements/Actions Against Anti-Semitism a Welcome Change From Obama,” ZOA, at Mar. 3, 2017.)

President Trump is also the most pro-Israel president we have had in a long time.  President Trump chose a tremendously pro-Israel Vice President (Mike Pence), U.S. Ambassador to Israel (David Friedman), U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. – Nikki Haley, and top advisors Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and Stephen Bannon and Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

Under the president’s direction, Ambassador Haley has done wonders helping to curtail the UN’s anti-Semitic anti-Israel activities. 

President Trump is also focused on the real causes of lack of peace in the Middle East – especially the Palestinian Authority’s anti-Israel anti-Jewish incitement in schools, public squares and the media, etc., and the PA’s payments to Arab terrorists to murder Jews.  President Trump also called out PA dictator Abbas for Abbas’ lies.  (“Trump Yelled at Abbas in Meeting for ‘Lying about Commitment to Peace,’” i24News, May 28, 2017.) 

The president also has a flexible, open approach to peace: and is not wedded to the absurd idea that peace would be furthered by imposing the creation of a Hamas-Palestinian-Iranian satellite terrorist state.  (See ZOA Praises Trump’s Israel Museum Speech – Combatting Iran and Islamic Terror; Won’t Impose Palestinian State,” May 24, 2017.)

The White House also reaffirmed the president’s commitment to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (“White House Statement on the American Embassy in Israel,” June 1, 2017). 

ZOA does have some issues with President Trump: We are disappointed by the delay in moving the embassy, and the president’s statements asking Israel to temporarily hold off on settlements (Jewish communities in the lawful Jewish homeland).  (ZOA: Disappointing Embassy Move Delay Rewards Terrorist Threats & Harms Peace Possibilities, June 2, 2017.) 

But all in all, thus far, the Trump administration has one of the best presidential records on Jewish and Israel issues – and is clearly not anti-Semitic.

“Meme Critiques” Should Focus On A Meme’s Content:

Returning to the “Trump v. CNN” video tweet: ZOA notes that dozens of memes and meme variations arrive in our computers every day, with no indication of their origin.  “Meme criticism” should thus focus on the content of a meme – not on an analysis of totally unrelated posts by someone who sent out a similar meme.

Also, do we really want to impose upon the president and anyone who posts a meme an obligation to try to find the originator of every similar meme and analyze all of his or her unrelated posts?  It’s an impractical and often impossible undertaking.  “Know Your Meme” – the premier website for trying to learn the origins of memes – would not have been of help here.  ZOA tried to look up the “Trump v. CNN” wrestling video meme yesterday and found the following under “Know Your Meme: The Battle of the Billionaires”:

“The Battle of Billionaires was the name of the main staged rivalry between Donald Trump and Vince McMahon at the 23rd annual Wrestlemania pay-per-view event that took place in April 2007. While the event drew large-scale interest in its own right at the time of the original airing, numerous GIFs and video clips from the staged altercation between the two has seen a notable resurgence since Donald Trump’s nomination, and subsequent victory, in the 2016 United States presidential election.”  (Id.)

Memes are generally parodies and pranks.  The Reddit poster of the similar “Trump v. CNN” wrestling meme told CNN that he posted the meme as a prank – and apologized for his unrelated highly inappropriate posts.  (See How CNN found the Reddit User Behind the Trump Wrestling GIF,” by Andrew Kaczynski, CNN, July 4, 2017.)

ADL Should Follow Its Own Advice About Not Giving Anti-Semitic Messaging “Mainstream Attention”:

The ADL should start following its own advice about not giving anti-Semitic messaging “mainstream attention.” 

Incredibly, the ADL supported giving Linda Sarsour a mainstream platform to spread her vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-women views at the CUNY Graduate School of Health commencement – and accused those protesting Sarsour of “anti-Muslim bigotry”!  ADL’s statement cited a “First Amendment right” for Sarsour to speak – even though there is no “First Amendment right” to give an honorary platform to an anti-Semite at a public university.  (“ADL Statement on Controversy Surrounding Linda Sarsour,” May 25, 2017. See also Why Are ADL And AJC Silent On CUNY Honoring Israel-Hating Linda Sarsour?  Hoenlein, Board of Rabbis, ZOA, Others Have Spoken Out,” May 1, 2017.)

ADL also initially supported anti-Semitic anti-Israel Keith Ellison to head the DNC – until pressure finally forced ADL to reverse itself.  Moreover, the ADL  has been silent about Keith Ellison’s appointment as Deputy DNC Chair – a position that gives Ellison’s anti-Israel anti-Jewish “messaging” tremendous “mainstream attention.”