Responding to antisemitism from the Left and Right

Attacking only one end of the political spectrum is not a solution.

Swastika and the word "Raus" (Out) are sprayed at a asylum seeker accommodation in Waltrop, western Germany, on October 13, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Swastika and the word "Raus" (Out) are sprayed at a asylum seeker accommodation in Waltrop, western Germany, on October 13, 2015.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Last weekend, The Jerusalem Post featured two op-eds attacking ADL and its CEO and National Director, Jonathan Greenblatt, for allegedly turning to the left.  The reality is these two long-time critics, JPost contributors Caroline Glick and Isi Leibler  and their ilk suffer from two maladies: they are selective in citing information about what ADL says and does and they see any criticism of the right, including of President Trump’s legitimizations of white supremacists, as illegitimate and a sign of left-wing bias.
In the case of their selective approach to ADL’s actions,  they conveniently ignore ADL’s continuing record in sticking to its historic role as principled and non-partisan organization standing up to bigots and bullies, to extremists and radicals and always calling out anti-Semitism and hate regardless of the source. Still, it is important to get the facts straight, and here are just a few examples:
We have strongly condemned anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel from the left:  including renouncing the Movement for Black Lives platform for charging Israel with “genocide” among other crimes; we denounced Chicago Dyke march for barring flag with the Star of David and their condemnation of Zionism; we harshly rejected JVP for siding with hate-leader Richard Spencer in comparing White Supremacy to Zionism.  We have publicly condemned Linda Sarsour’s offensive and problematic views on Israel, her support for BDS, and the link between Zionism and feminism. Her claim that one cannot simultaneously be a Zionist and a feminist is deeply offensive, as our Israel Director Carole Nuriel pointed out.
In fact, under Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL has made fighting the de-legitimization of Israel as one of its key strategic priorities. Jonathan Greenblatt repeatedly has emphasized the battle against BDS as the front line of this struggle. The entire leadership at ADL believes that BDS is a form of anti-Semitism that must be countered aggressively. Under Jonathan Greenblatt's leadership, ADL is devoting more resources than at any previous point in its history to this issue.
ADL continues to call out anti-Semitism wherever it comes from – be it last week’s White Supremacists hate-fest in Charlottesville or the from the two California Imams.
And let’s not forget that in his first week as the head of ADL, Greenblatt publically came out against the Iran Deal, a key priority of the Obama Administration that put ADL at odds with the White House and almost the entire Democratic leadership in Congress.  It stretches the imagination to consider how criticizing a Democratic president and the Democratic Party could be seen as the handiwork of an operative of the Democratic party.  Not to mention Greenblatt calling out problematic comments about Israel by Rep. Keith Ellison, who was then running for head of the Democratic National Committee.
So the better question is not why ADL is not speaking out about problems from the left, which, as I have shown, we surely have, but why our critics from the right refuse to address the very real problems that come from the right.
Charlottesville is the latest and one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon. It is a clear case of racial hatred and anti-Semitism which warranted unequivocal moral leadership from President Donald Trump. And he, unlike his predecessors from both parties, not only failed in the moment, but he provided succor for white supremacist groups going forward. 
Yet some on the right, including supporters of Israel, rationalized his behavior.  This poses a larger issue which some on the right have to ponder: does support for Israel excuse bigotry and anti-Semitism?
In ADL’s view, it is immoral and ultimately self- defeating not to stand up against hatred when it comes from individuals who may be or may claim to be pro-Israel. During the campaign, Donald Trump engaged in stereotyping of different groups, not focusing on Jews, but in the end this emboldened anti-Semites. We have seen the results: a significant rise in anti-Semitic incidents and a new empowerment of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. At Charlottesville, we heard chants of torch bearing anti-Semites saying "Jews will not replace us" that conjure up memories of an evil past.
Whether the President turns out to be a great friend of Israel is still to be determined. But even if he is, he has set loose forces that are immoral, bad for America, bad for the world and bad for the Jewish people.
If there's any soul-searching to be done, it should be by those who wish away troubling developments like this on the grounds President Trump is good for Israel. Fortunately, we saw a large number of individuals on the right condemning Charlottesville and the President's dealing with it no matter his views on Israel.
There are real problems for Jews and others from both the right and the left. Glick, Liebler and their friends can cherry pick what they want from ADL’s record, and blind themselves to immorality and hate currently running through our country’s veins. ADL’s eyes are wide-open to this danger and remain firmly committed to doing our job and calling out anti-Semitism and hate as we see it.