Sometimes, the most important questions are the ones that aren’t asked about the issues that generate the most concern. That’s certainly true with respect to the widespread and justified concern about a rising tide of antisemitism that has spread across the globe to the United States. There, the question that isn’t being asked is whether the information we’re being fed by the Anti-Defamation League is illuminating the problem or actually doing more to confuse and distort the discussion about its core mission of fighting Jew-hatred.
Though the partisan tilt of the organization under its current CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt has been amply documented, it is still treated by the mainstream corporate media, as well as most of the Jewish community, as the authoritative voice on the subject. So when the group issues a report on the issue, as it did this week with a study on “White Supremacist Propaganda,” the world pays attention. The thrust of that document was the claim that the number of “white supremacist events” rose to an all-time high in 2022. That was treated as fodder for alarmist headlines that stoked the fears of Jews that the United States is in danger of being overrun by neo-Nazis.
But like many of the ADL’s reports in recent years, when reading beneath the headlines, the details don’t quite justify the fear-mongering that drives the group’s successful fundraising efforts. The key data point is that the group counted 170 “events” of white supremacist propaganda in 2022 as opposed to 108 in 2021. By “events,” they don’t reference actual attacks on Jews but rather the distribution of antisemitic fliers and stickers or posters or banners displayed publicly.
Any instance of far-right hate is one too many. Moreover, the memory of the murderous attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and in Poway in 2019 is deeply embedded in the consciousness of Jews who have now sadly grown accustomed to the sight of armed guards at their places of worship. Anyone who has witnessed any of these “events” is entitled to be angry and concerned.
Yet while vigilance is necessary, the idea that even 170 such instances in a nation of 336 million people constitute a genuine surge of neo-Nazi hate cannot be taken seriously. The voices of far-right extremists are amplified by the Internet, and digital technology has also enabled them to communicate and organize in ways that were impossible a generation ago.
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Yet the evidence doesn’t back up the idea that this is the principal threat to Jewish security. That was illustrated by what happened on Feb. 25.
Although many American Jews feared the worst when the news spread last month of a network of neo-Nazi groups planning a “National Day of Hate,” what happened was much like the “events” that the ADL puts forward as proof of a surge of far-right activity. The much-ballyhooed alarmism fell flat when that Saturday proved to be something of a virtual stunt with little, if any, neo-Nazi activity observed. This showed that although they get a lot of PR and attention from the ADL and the liberal media, their numbers remain tiny, and they have no political support for their efforts.
That is, of course, not the case with the intersectional left; it promotes a different brand of antisemitism that doesn’t seem to generate the same kind of threat among American Jewry. The demonization of Israel and its Jewish supporters, who are branded as the beneficiaries of “white privilege” and the oppressors of Palestinian “people of color,” is widespread and routinely published in mainstream publications like The New York Times and broadcast outlets like MSBC, and, as CAMERA pointed out this week, in overseas outlets like France24.
There are no ADL statistics about left-wing antisemitic “events” where Jews are smeared or attacked in the same manner as reported by neo-Nazis. If there were, the number of such incidents would be so great that it would strain even the resources of a wealthy organization like the one run by Greenblatt to assemble the data.
Still, it would seem that’s what a group like the ADL, which does admit that anti-Jewish hate comes from both the left and the right, as well as from the Muslim and African-American communities, ought to be doing. Not to mention the fact that while they are all over the question of how many far-right leaflets are handed out, the epidemic of attacks on Orthodox Jews by African-Americans in New York City is often ignored by the watchdog.
What does the ADL care about? Last week, it was laser-focused on looking for hate at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. CPAC came in for special attention from the ADL’s Twitter account which, in a series of tweets, highlighted what it declared to be dangerous instances of threatening speech.
But that’s not what they found. As the group was forced to admit, Nick Fuentes—the far-right, Holocaust-denying antisemite who leads the shadowy “groypers”—a group of Jew-hating Internet trolls—was denied entry to the conference. He was reduced to an ineffective demonstration that failed to disrupt a Shabbat gathering of Jewish conservatives attending the event.
Instead, the evidence of hate that the ADL subsequently trumpeted was a talk by Chaya Raichik, an Orthodox Jewish woman who runs the Libs of TikTok social-media accounts. The ADL falsely smeared Raichik and other CPAC speakers as spreading “anti-trans hate.”
Raichik is targeted by the political left for her work in exposing the way some educators boast of their efforts to indoctrinate students in critical race theory teachings, as well as gender ideology that sexualizes young children. She does so by merely reposting the videos produced for public consumption by these people without editing. That has helped illuminate the problematic nature of school curricula and classroom experiences. What Raichik is doing is a public service, but to those who want such practices kept out of the public view, she is a hatemonger who endangers teachers.
The issue of whether schools should be encouraging “transitioning” for children without parental permission or whether states should allow minors to take life-altering drugs or even surgeries that involve bodily mutilation and sterilization is one that is deserving of a vigorous public debate. Yet the mere raising of such concerns about the welfare of children is considered a form of hate by the ADL.
Yet as outrageous as the ADL’s smears of Raichik and other CPAC speakers are, it also begs the question as to how it is that the defense of “gender-affirming care”—the euphemism for such treatments and surgeries—has become part of the mission of the group whose purpose it is to defend the Jews against antisemitism?
The answer is the same for those who wonder about why the ADL was discovered to be spreading CRT ideas that grant a permission slip to antisemitism in its anti-hate curricula or its endorsement of the antisemitic Black Lives Matter movement.
The group has become a reliable source of left-wing ideology and Democratic Party partisan spin, which explains its attempts to tie former President Donald Trump to antisemitic events that had nothing to do with him or its stands on Supreme Court nominations.
The ADL continued its anti-Trump advocacy by falsely characterizing his CPAC speech as hatemongering and supposedly echoing “classic antisemitic rhetoric.”
Trump is fair game for criticism, and Americans can oppose his attempt to return to the White House or disagree with the substance of that speech. But it is not antisemitism to, as he did, criticize those pushing for more U.S. involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, or those who advocate for globalist economic and environmentalist stands or those who hate America. The issues he addressed are real and to dismiss a mindset that views the plight of the people in East Palestine, Ohio, who are dealing with an environmental disaster that the Biden administration ignored or the erasure of America’s Southern border as more important than the territorial integrity of Ukraine as antisemitic is madness.
In a single week, the ADL’s over-hyped white supremacist statistics and bizarre spin on CPAC demonstrated anew that it has long since abandoned its responsibility to fight antisemitism so as to become just another left-wing Jewish group. During Greenblatt’s tenure, it has betrayed its mission. It is now more of a liability to the security of American Jews than an asset.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.