OpinionAntisemitism

Muslim-American organizations slander the ADL

A statement issued by 60 Islamist groups waging war against American Jews falsely accuses the ADL and its CEO of waging war against American Muslims.

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL national director  and CEO, speaking with attendees at the 2017 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL national director and CEO, speaking with attendees at the 2017 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
Dexter Van Zile
Dexter Van Zile is Managing Editor at the Middle East Forum.

In a transparent effort to falsely portray Muslims—rather than Jews—as the primary targets of hate in America, more than 60 Islamist groups and their allies have called for the ouster of Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

In a statement released on April 15, the groups—many of which have defended and legitimized violence against Israel and fomented antisemitism—condemned Greenblatt for criticizing anti-Israel protests on college campuses. They also lambasted him for likening the keffiyeh worn by many anti-Israel protesters to the Nazi swastika in a recent interview on “Morning Joe.”

“Mr. Greenblatt’s reckless words threaten the safety of Palestinian-Americans, as well as many others who wear the keffiyeh in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” the statement said. It then called on the ADL to fire Greenblatt, “apologize for its history of bad faith attacks” and “stop attempting to defame, silence and endanger those who express support for Palestinian human rights.” Coming from openly antisemitic organizations, this is risible.

Moreover, in light of the targeted harassment Jews have endured at the hands of pro-Hamas, keffiyeh-wearing students at college campuses around the country, the keffiyeh cannot be viewed as an innocent sign of support for Palestinians, but instead as a marker intended to intimidate Jews in the U.S.

The idea that Greenblatt and the ADL are enemies of American Muslims is also nonsense. While Greenblatt and the ADL have certainly condemned Muslim antisemites—as they should—they have also regularly warned the public about the prospect of anti-Muslim violence in the U.S. The ADL even published a lesson plan that calls on Americans to serve as allies to their Muslim neighbors. Last December, the organization issued a warning about a rise in anti-Muslim hostility in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre.

CAIR and its allies have now repaid this allyship with defamation.

Moreover, the anti-Greenblatt statement is rank hypocrisy. It comes after a dramatic increase in Islamist-driven hostility toward Jews and Israel. The ADL has itself reported a 337% increase in antisemitic incidents in the two months after the attack.

This skyrocketing antisemitism has been fueled by the very groups who signed the condemnation of Greenblatt. The United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), for example, issued a statement on the day of the attack justifying the massacre by leveling false allegations of “targeted and indiscriminate killing of civilians, including innocent children” against Israel.

The organization even called on governments in the Middle East to “reconsider” their decision to make peace with Israel. In other words, USCMO promoted policies that would only contribute to more death and destruction in the region.

Nihad Awad, the national director of CAIR, got into the act in November 2023, literally celebrating the Oct. 7 atrocities. Speaking at a conference organized by American Muslims for Palestine—another signatory of the defamatory statement—Awad called Gaza a “concentration camp.” He further said that he was “happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land” in order to “walk free” into Israel to commit the atrocities. He proclaimed that Israel, which withdrew from Gaza in 2005, has no right to defend itself against attack because it is an “occupying power.”

The Biden administration rebuked Awad, saying that it condemned his “shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms.”

The Mosque Foundation of Bridgeville, Illinois also signed the statement attacking Greenblatt and the ADL. Sheikh Jamal Said, who serves as the mosque’s current principal imam and director, grew up “inspired” by the Muslim Brotherhood, according to The Chicago Tribune. He was also listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal lawsuit against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), an organization found guilty of sending over $12 million to Hamas.

Said was, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “in charge of approving the donations” from the mosque to the HLF. In 2005, the Family Bank and Trust Company closed the Foundation’s bank accounts, citing ties to an organization linked to Osama bin Laden.

The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), a Christian organization, also signed the anti-Greenblatt statement. FOSNA has received funds from the Amin family of California, which has close ties to the genocidally antisemitic Iranian regime. It was founded in the early 1990s to promote the writings of Naim Ateek, an Anglican priest in Jerusalem (now reportedly living in Texas) who was notorious for his use of passages from Christian scriptures to demonize Israel.

Ateek’s rhetoric, which scholar Amy-Jill Levine characterized as “recycled anti-Judaism that depicts Israel as a country of Christ-killers,” incited mainline Protestant churches to embark on a campaign of condoning Palestinian violence against Israel that continued even after the Oct. 7 massacre.

The bottom line is that those who claim Greenblatt and the ADL are waging war on American Muslims are themselves waging a war on American Jews. With enemies like these, Greenblatt and the ADL have reason to be proud.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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