ADL Speech to J St. Wrongly Casts “Equal” Blame on Israel, Promotes Pro-BDS “Black Lives Matter”

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq., released the following statement:

In this dangerous era – when Palestinian Arab terrorists are knifing, shooting, ramming cars into and bombing innocent Israeli Jewish civilians virtually every day, and anti-Semitic attacks on Jews throughout the world are at the highest levels since the Nazi years, Jewish organizations need to work together and focus on combating these pressing issues threatening Jewish lives.   The ZOA was pleased that the ZOA and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined together for a panel discussion for college students about BDS (anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions) on Long Island earlier this year.   ZOA hopes that our organizations will have more such mutual efforts in the future.   ZOA also praises ADL’s new head, Jonathan Greenblatt, for correctly stating during Greenblatt’s address to the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian group J Street that: “We need to stand up and speak out against those who . . . clothe anti-Semitic invective in the language of human rights, or minimize it because of the supposed privilege of the Jewish community.” (Though it is troubling that ADL chose to address J Street, giving credibility to this Soros-funded group that is hostile to Israel and against Iran sanctions.)

However, it is painful and concerning that during his same address to J Street, Mr. Greenblatt inaccurately promoted “rights of marginalized Palestinians”; accused Jewish communities of “Islamophobia”; cast “equal” blame on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs for terrorist intifadas and the lack of a “solution”; falsely claimed that J Street is a “front line of defense against BDS and delegitimization”; and prioritized causes such as “Black Lives Matter” (a cause that has allied itself with anti-Israel pro-BDS groups) – among other errors.  It may be that, as a newcomer to this arena, Mr. Greenblatt may not be familiar with all the facts or may have inartfully worded his statements.  We look forward to improvement in the future as he settles into his new leadership role. 

Here are some concerns with ADL head Greenblatt’s J Street speech:

  • Greenblatt encouraged criticism of Israel as to why there is no “two–state solution” (a euphemism for creating a Palestinian-Arab terrorist state) saying:  “Looking back [after the hopes of Oslo], some disagree about what happened or how we get to that two-state solution. We can – and should – have a robust debate.  We can criticize and argue with our brothers and sisters in Israel, and with their government.  I know I do.  I know ADL does.”  Greenblatt also said: “We can seek to support Palestinian self-determination.” 
Greenblatt falsely implied that Israel does not protect Arab citizens’ rights today, and instead portrayed protecting Arab citizens’ rights as a future aspiration for which activists must fight.

It is inaccurate for Greenblatt and the ADL to criticize and encourage criticism of Israel for the lack of a “solution.”   The Palestinian leadership rejected incredibly generous peace offers in 1937, 1947, 2000, and 2008, and has refused to even negotiate with Israel for years.  Instead of negotiating, the PA/PLO incites violence against innocent Jews, allies itself with Hamas, and pays pensions to families of Arabs who murder Jews.

  • Greenblatt wrongly blamed “both sides” for acts that are the sole responsibility of Palestinian Arabs and their leaders.  Greenblatt stated:  “We must be on guard for those . . . who place blame on one side instead of putting forward solutions that acknowledge the role and responsibility of both sides” and “Both sides need more investment and less intifada, more business and less boycott, more help and less hate.”

It is wrong to cast part of the blame on Israel for one-way actions of the PLO/PA (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas, including intifadas (Arab calls to murder innocent Jews), Hamas’ and the PA’s teaching of hatred of Jews in Palestinian Arab schools, newspapers, television, and government-controlled mosques, and the Arabs’ economic warfare and boycotts against Jewish and Israeli businesses, cultural events, artists and academics.

  • Greenblatt also falsely accused fellow Jews of “Islamophobia” and “marginalizing Palestinians” and claimed that the “Palestinian narrative” is “legitimate.”   Greenblatt said: “We should not stand idly by when those in our community exhibit Islamophobia or deny the rights of the marginalized, Palestinian or otherwise. So, when it comes to striving for a two state solution, it’s critical for two parties to meet halfway.  Both sides need to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other’s narrative.  We need equal pressure for equality.”  

In fact, the “Palestinian narrative” consists of the false claim that Jews living on Jewish land are “occupiers” that “stole” their own land from “Palestinian” Arabs.  The “Palestinian narrative” also falsely claims that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are Islamic holy places that Jews are “defiling,” and that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem.   As ZOA has previously detailed, Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest city, mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible and spoken of in countless Jewish prayers, including in the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur services.  Jerusalem was the capital of the Biblical Jewish kingdoms and the site of three thousand years of Jewish habitation.  By contrast, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Quran.  Muslims turn towards Mecca to pray, while Jews turn toward Jerusalem.  During Jordan’s illegal occupation of eastern Jerusalem (1948-67), Jews were entirely driven out, 58 synagogues there were destroyed, and Jordanians used Jewish gravestones to pave Jordanian roads and latrines and forbade Jewish access to the Western Wall.  Moreover, when Jerusalem was in Arab hands, the PLO and Fatah charters never even mentioned Jerusalem, or a Palestinian state of which Jerusalem need be capital.

These false “Palestinian narratives” are pretexts for terror against innocent Jewish Israelis and underlie the Palestinian Arab goal of establishing a Judenrein state that replaces all of Israel – a goal that Hamas and the PLO/PA continue to pursue via every available means – including violence, UN condemnations, lawfare, economic boycotts, and a well-financed propaganda war assisted by groups such as J Street.

  • Greenblatt falsely implied that Israel does not protect Arab citizens’ rights today, and instead portrayed protecting Arab citizen’s rights as a future aspiration for which activists must fight.  Greenblatt stated: “We want to see Israel as a democratic country that acknowledges [sic] and protects [sic] the rights of all its citizens, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, Sabra and immigrant, Jew and Arab.”

Israel in fact already protects the rights of all its citizens, including its Arab citizens.  Israeli Arabs vote in Israeli elections; serve as doctors, lawyers and top judges in Israel; and even sit as members of the Israeli Knesset, despite supporting Israel’s enemies.   Israeli Arab MK’s have visited and comforted families of Arab terrorists who murdered Jews, joined the IHH flotilla to break the Israeli blockade of arms shipments to Hamas, urged Islamist terrorist group Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to fight Israel, and supported the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.

  • Incredibly, Greenblatt also told J Street:  “Often I know you are the front line of defense against BDS and delegitimization.” 

In fact, J Street honors leaders of the BDS movement and brings BDS leaders to its conferences and college campuses.  Moreover, J Street’s own “BDS principles” admit that J Street does NOT oppose boycotting Jewish businesses and Jews living on what J Street calls “occupied territory beyond the Green Line(a euphemism for the 650,000 Jews living on historic Jewish lands in Judea/Samaria and the old city of Jerusalem where a Jewish kingdom existed for hundreds of years).   Instead, J Street’s BDS principles support actions (presumably including anti-Jewish boycotts) against Jews in “settlements” in Judea/Samaria and the eastern portion of Jerusalem.  J Street also opposes needed anti-BDS legislation.  J Street’s principles also oppose calling the global BDS movement what it really is. In the decision upholding Israel’s anti-BDS law, Israeli Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer held that BDS is “political terrorism.”   Global BDS actions are, moreover, at times accompanied by violence, such as raiding European grocery stores to remove and destroy Israeli produce and other products.   Yet, J Street’s principles state:  “J Street is opposed to rhetoric that refers to the Global BDS Movement as a form of terrorism or violence.”    

  • Greenblatt also stated that “the rights of refugees, equality for the LGBT community, [and] making sure that Black Lives Matter. . . . are the struggles of our time.”

ZOA has previously detailed why Syrian immigrants pose an unacceptable, grave danger to all Americans and especially to American Jews (see here and here), and why the ADL’s efforts to promote Syrian immigration into the United States are wrong and dangerous.   Among other things, top U.S. administration security officials confirm that Syrian refugees cannot be adequately vetted and are infiltrated by ISIS. 

And the “Black Lives Matter” movement is closely allied with and supports the anti-Israel BDS movement.  It is thus inappropriate for the ADL to view “Black Lives Matter” movement as ADL’s struggle.

Greenblatt also made no mention of the fact that Israel is the only Middle East country that protects LGBT persons. He did not mention that those who wish to battle for LGBT rights should oppose the Islamic Republic of Iran (which hangs hundreds of persons each year from cranes) and other similar regimes.

The real struggle of our time, in an era when Jews are being slaughtered, attacked, run-over, boycotted, and defamed with impunity, should be that Jewish lives matter.   The ZOA calls upon Jonathan Greenblatt to focus ADL’s tremendous resources – and to join ZOA – in helping the endangered Jewish people – instead of offering aid and comfort to the Jewish people’s enemies. 

  • Greenblatt also falsely condemned Jewish groups that understand that the pro-Palestinian-Arab, pro-Iran, Soros-funded J Street exists outside of any conceivable reasonable “pro-Israel tent.”   Among other things, J Street raises millions of dollars to elect anti-Israel Congresspersons and to defeat pro-Israel Congresspersons, honors and gives platforms to the leaders of the anti-Israel BDS movement, constantly condemns Israel, and takes positions hostile to Israel, including falsely condemning Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza, lobbying for the dangerous Iran deal, lobbying against sanctions on Iran, and promoting the (debunked) “Goldstone report” condemning Israel.   Yet, Greenblatt stated: “Perhaps in the past there has been a shortcoming of the Jewish establishment to allow for robust debate, to create a safe space for all of us to talk, a big tent that respects the views of all parties. I believe that healthy dialogue is a Jewish value and see you as part of that dialogue and, I am standing before you today, bearing witness to that value.”

Further, ZOA questions whether Mr. Greenblatt should have addressed J Street at all.   It may be that, as a newcomer, Mr. Greenblatt is unaware of J Street’s anti-Israel policies and practices.   Many politicians who initially involved themselves with J Street disassociated themselves from J Street after learning more about the organization.  For instance, after learning of J-Street’s anti-Israel extremism, Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Congresspersons Mike Castle (R-DE), Mike Ross (D-AR), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), John Salazar (D-CO), Ed Towns (D-NY), and Howard Coble (R-NC) all asked to have their names removed from a J Street Conference host committee to which they had originally signed up. 

Liberal Democrat former Congressman and Chair of the Mideast Subcommittee Gary Ackerman (D-NY), cut his former ties with J Street in 2011, saying: “J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated . . . The [J-Street] decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the U.N. Security Council is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help. It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out. . . . [The Palestinians] sent peace talks into a dead end. But astonishingly, it is Israel that J-Street would put in the stocks in the public square.”  Jewish Lawmaker Slams J Street for Position on Anti-Israel U.N. Resolution (Fox News, Jan. 26, 2011).  

If the new ADL head, nonetheless, wishes address J Street in the future, we hope that next time his speech will be more accurate, and will not promote and demonstrate sympathy to pro-BDS groups.

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