When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913, its mission was “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” A recent letter signed by Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and National Director, suggests that, at least in some of the ADL’s mailers, protecting the Jewish people is not the principal focus.
Stating in the letter that “hate and bias have no place” on college campuses, the ADL seeks help to “combat hate speech on campus.” It describes, in the opening sentences of the letter, the tactics that extremists are using, immediately highlighting the “[r]acist fliers, posters and stickers with slogans like ‘Imagine a Muslim-free America’” that appear on street signs and elsewhere – hateful tactics that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) also abhors and condemns.
The word Muslim appears in the third sentence, but the word “Jew” or “Jewish” is not in this ADL letter at all. It is not until the next-to-last paragraph of the letter that the word “anti-Semitic” appears. This is concerning and perplexing, not only because of the ADL’s founding mission to protect the Jewish people, but also because the latest FBI hate crime statistics once again show – as they do year after year – that Jews are by far the largest targets of religious hate crimes. There were more than double the number of recorded hate crimes against Jews than against Muslims.
Moreover, in its letter to combat hate speech on campus, the ADL’s focus is only on white supremacists and the Alt-Right who, the ADL states, “are engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts on college campuses.” There is not a single reference to the vile and divisive messages that are also coming from the Israel-hating, anti-Semitic extremist left – including arguably the most prominent hate group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – which target, harass and threaten Jews on campus. A recent 52-page report issued by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs describes the prominent, vocal and well-organized SJP as “an extremist organization that maintains affiliations with Arab and Islamic terror groups, is overtly anti-Semitic, incites hatred and violence against Jewish students, and rejects the existence of the state of Israel in any borders.”
Even when a recent ADL mailer did focus on anti-Semitism, it acknowledged only the Jew-hatred coming from white supremacists. There was again no mention of the hatred of Jews expressed by radical left-wing groups such as the anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing SJP.
SJP supporters have called for an intifada on college campuses – the term for the Palestinian Arab terror war against Jews in Israel. An SJP rally at Hunter College blamed the “Zionists” for rising tuition, and SJP supporters despicably chanted, “Jews out of CUNY,” “Death to Jews,” and other hateful invectives. SJP is the primary agent behind the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) initiatives on campus, which, studies show, directly correlate with anti-Semitic acts on campus.
SJP not only promotes hatred against Jews and Israel. It also tries to shut down dissenting voices, disrupting Jewish and pro-Israel events on campuses such as City College of New York, the University of California, Irvine, and Cornell University, to name just a few. A key finding of a 2016 Brandeis University study of campus anti-Semitism is that an active SJP group on campus is one of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate toward Jews.
SJP’s campus ally, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), plays a major role in promoting the hatred of Jews and Israel, yet there’s no mention of this Israel-bashing radical left-wing group in the ADL’s request for help to combat hate speech on campus. Despite its name, there is nothing about JVP that promotes Jewish values or peace. JVP is an open supporter of BDS, which is anti-peace and seeks Israel’s elimination. At its last national conference, JVP hosted Linda Sarsour – an anti-Semite and Israel-basher who, among other things, opposes the existence of the Jewish state of Israel and claimed that Zionists cannot be feminists – and Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist who was recently deported from the U.S. for lying about her terrorist crimes on her immigration forms. Recently, JVP launched an attack on Birthright Israel, a program that provides thousands of young Jewish adults each year with the gift of a 10-day trip to Israel, with the laudable goal of strengthening the Jewish community and strengthening Jewish young adults’ connection to Israel.
The ADL is right to condemn and fight anti-Muslim bigotry. It is right to condemn and fight white supremacists and the Alt-Right who engage in hate speech on campus. But in a letter to combat hate speech on campus, the ADL’s failure to mention anti-Semitism until the end of this letter, and its failure to mention the most significant and prevalent on-campus promoters of hate speech against Jews – SJP and allies like JVP – are deeply concerning. To fulfill its mission to protect the Jewish people, ADL should always keep the fight against anti-Semitism front and center and its foremost priority. And it should always acknowledge the tactics being used by anti-Semites across the political spectrum, including the tactics of extremist anti-Semitic left-wing groups that play such a significant role in creating a hostile, even dangerous campus environment for Jews across the country.