By Morton A. Klein, ZOA National President
(August 29, 2022 / JNS) There were some good points in CNN’s recent special on antisemitism, such as a discussion of the importance of the Secure Community Network’s synagogue security training, a description of the harassment and death threats against a pro-Israel college student, and the general acknowledgment that antisemitism is a serious, growing problem.
Unfortunately, however, the special grossly downplayed left-wing and Islamist antisemitism, and didn’t even mention black nationalists and other major sources of Jew-hatred. This seems in large part due to CNN’s reliance on the left-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and its CEO, former Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt, as well as U.S. State Department antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt, who has compared pro-Jewish former President Donald Trump to the Nazis, and the far-left group T’ruah’s Jill Jacobs.
The ADL, for example, recently stated that boycotts of Israel alone do not count as antisemitic; praised antisemitic congresswoman Ilhan Omar as “committed to a more just world”; defended antisemitic NGOs like Amnesty International, along with the extremist anti-Israel philanthropist George Soros; and tried to defund and remove the tax exemption from three pro-Israel groups, including Christian Zionists; among numerous other dangerous positions.
T’ruah, which is unremittingly hostile to Israel, partners with the discredited anti-Israel NGO Breaking the Silence and has repeatedly tried to defund hundreds of humanitarian Jewish pro-Israel charities. Alarmingly, the CNN program publicized far-left T’ruah head Jill Jacobs’s extremely limited definition of antisemitism without giving the Zionist Organization of America or anyone else an opportunity to provide a broader definition.
Jacobs claimed that anti-Zionism is only antisemitism when an antisemitic “trope” (such as Jews wanting money) is involved. In fact, anti-Zionism denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in the Jewish homeland, and is thus both discriminatory and antisemitic. Anti-Zionism is a major manifestation of antisemitism today. On college campuses and elsewhere, antisemites use the terms “Zionist” and “Jew” interchangeably.
In addition, Jacobs absurdly claims on the program that “Palestinian activism” is not primarily antisemitic. In fact, “Palestinian activism” on college campuses consists of harassing Jewish students, holding demonstrations calling for killing and evicting them, shouting down Jewish and pro-Israel speakers and trying to make Jewish and pro-Israel students fearful and miserable.
The special also never mentioned the following major perpetrators of antisemitism, who are responsible for making Jew-hatred acceptable and mainstream today:
- The “Squad” of antisemites in Congress—Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Betty McCollum, Cori Bush and Marie Newman. They have falsely accused Israelis of being “evil” and denying Palestinian Arabs clean water, among other blood libels. They have also accused American Jews of buying Congress and initiated antisemitic legislation, including bills falsely accusing Israelis of abusing Palestinian children and declaring Israel’s reestablishment a “Nakba” (Arabic for “catastrophe”).
- Imams who preach sermons calling for Muslims and Allah to murder and annihilate Jews in mosques throughout the United States. Such sermons have been preached in mosques in California, Texas, New Jersey and North Carolina.
- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and other antisemitic Black nationalists. Farrakhan is notorious for his antisemitic rants about “Satanic Jews” who “deceive the whole world.” He has referred to “synagogues of Satan” and called Judaism a “gutter religion” among other vile comments. Yet despite his widespread malign influence, CNN never mentioned him.
Farrakhan has been mainstreamed by former Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory, who praised him as the “Greatest of All Time.” Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have been photographed with Farrakhan.
Frequent violence against identifiable Jews in the New York metro area is overwhelmingly perpetrated by blacks and more such events occurred last week. Members of a black supremacist sect, the Black Hebrew Israelites—a non-Jewish group that believes white people are Satan’s agents, Jews are liars and false worshippers and black people are the true “chosen people”—perpetrated the deadly Jersey City shooting at a kosher grocery. However, when CNN briefly mentioned the Jersey City shooting, it did not mention the perpetrators’ identity.
- The leading Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization Movement 4 Black Lives (M4BL) and related organizations. BLM and M4BL promote antisemitic blood libels and anti-Jewish boycotts; incited a major pogrom in Los Angeles in which they burned, looted and defaced synagogues, Jewish schools and businesses; and meet with and promote the designated terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and its front groups Al-Haq and DCI-Palestine. BLM/M4BL promotes these groups and their agenda at joint events and joint demonstrations, as well as on social media.
- Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is the source of most campus antisemitism and violence. Trained SJP activists on over 200 college campuses intimidate, harass and assault Jewish and pro-Israel students, and aggressively disrupt pro-Israel events.
- CAIR and other Hamas-related organizations. CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator involved in funneling money to Hamas, whose charter calls for murdering every Jew in the world. The group incites against Jews, promotes BDS, defends terrorists, hosts extremist antisemites and more.
- The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, a.k.a. the Quakers) and Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). These groups are major Israel-bashers and promoters of the antisemitic BDS movement. In July 2022, PCUSA falsely declared Israel an “apartheid state.” In 2014, it divested from certain American companies doing business in Israel. “AFSC Investigates” provides research on Jewish companies so they can be targeted for boycotts and other actions. AFSC and JVP also sponsored an intensive BDS summer training camp to teach students to run antisemitic boycott and other anti-Israel campaigns on college campuses.
- Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA). These NGOs specialize in turning Christians and churches against Jews and Israel and promote antisemitic blood libels and BDS.
- BDS groups and other anti-Israel NGOs. An alphabet soup of BDS groups operate in the U.S. They engage in lawless, violent “block the boat” actions to prevent Jewish-owned ships from offloading needed supplies at U.S. ports; “map” and target Jewish institutions, their employees and others tangentially related to Jews or Israel; and promote antisemitic economic, cultural and academic boycotts to destroy the Jewish state and Jewish livelihoods.
- Jewish antisemites and Israel-bashers, including Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and J Street. These groups consistently side with and assist Israel’s enemies.
- President Joe Biden’s antisemitic appointees and nominees. These include Islamists who have promoted anti-Jewish boycotts, such as Hady Amr, who stated that he was “inspired by the intifada”; Karine Jean-Pierre, who helped orchestrate several Democratic presidential candidates’ boycott of a major pro-Israel conference; Maher Bitar, who organized anti-Israel conferences where he taught attendees “how to demonize Israel”; and numerous others with antisemitic anti-Israel records.
- Funders and legal backers of antisemitic groups. These include organizations such as Palestine Legal, which backs up SJP and others that harass and attack Jewish students on college campuses. Funders of these antisemitic NGOs include the Tides Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, New Israel Fund (NIF) and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
CNN omitted all of this.
It was also disturbing that instead of focusing on such dangerous sources of antisemitism, CNN misleadingly tried to place blame on former President Donald Trump and omitted numerous examples of Trump condemning antisemitism and taking solid action to combat it, including Trump’s Executive Order protecting Jewish students on college campuses and his Department of Education Office of Civil Rights’ actions against campus antisemitism.
By contrast, the CNN special made no mention of former President Barack Obama’s antisemitic statements, such as his Cairo speech, which egregiously implied that Jewish suffering under the Nazis was equivalent to Palestinian Arab (supposed) suffering under Israel.
CNN never contacted ZOA despite our expertise in dealing with antisemitism. Among other things, ZOA is the leading organization providing legal assistance to Jewish and pro-Israel students on college campuses, and fought a six-year battle to reinterpret civil rights regulations to include Jewish students. We have notified CNN about our concerns. Hopefully, CNN will produce a fuller, more accurate program on the scourge of mindless, irrational Jew- and Israel-hatred.
Morton Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
This op-ed was originally published in JNS and can be viewed here.