Two and a half days before Yom Kippur, a jumbotron advertisement on a truck outside the Anti-Defamation League’s offices in New York urged Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL CEO and national director, to heed the theme of the High Holiday.
“It is time to repent and resign,” stated the ad, sponsored by the Jewish Leadership Project. “ADL CEO must go.”
Avi Goldwasser, co-founder of the JLP, told JNS that the nonprofit began using truck ads, which it contracts out, in the past year.
“It’s much easier than getting people to protest and make big signs,” he told JNS. “The truck moves around, so you get to educate more people.”
Goldwasser said that JLP recently dispatched a truck at Princeton University, which was covered in the student newspaper. And it is sending a truck to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where a “Palestine Writes” literary event from Sept. 22-24 is featuring several antisemitic speakers.
JLP ad campaigns have also targeted Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, he said.
“They get a lot of attention,” he said. “We like trucks.”
The aim, according to Goldwasser, is to get a response from the leaders of organizations that the ads target. “Yom Kippur is coming. It’s a big chance, Jonathan,” he said to Greenblatt, repeating the text of the ad: “Repent and resign.”
Goldwasser has no delusions that he and his colleagues have the power to get Jewish leaders to resign.
“It’s sort of the drip method,” he said. “You keep pounding. At some point, if he has any honor, if he has any shame, he may reconsider how helpful he is to the Jewish community, if he has any integrity.”
“What matters is results,” Goldwasser said. “If you look at the growth in Jew-hatred over the last two decades, what conclusion would you reach about ADL’s efforts?”
Antisemitism is “through the roof” in the United States. “It means that whatever they are doing is not working,” he said.
‘Check your politics at the door’
JNS asked what Goldwasser would recommend that the ADL do differently, were the ADL or its executive to seek his input.
“If you want to fix Jew-hatred, you have to start, ‘Why are Jews hated?'” he said. He rejected the notion of eliminating hate, which he said is inevitable and part of the human condition.
He recommended that the ADL take a kind of Hippocratic Oath when it comes to Jew-hatred. “Taking political positions, which have nothing to do with the Jewish community,” but which instead have to do with a “progressive agenda,” do harm to the Jewish community and increase antisemitism, he charged.
“You’re the head of the most important Jewish defense organization. Do no harm,” Goldwasser said. “Check your politics at the door. Stop it.”
A child of Holocaust survivors, whose father was one of just three out of 200 members of the family who survived, Goldwasser has spent a lot of time thinking about the root causes of antisemitism, which he believes are envy.
“They envy us because of our relationship with God. They envy us because we are so successful,” he said. “Most Jew haters that I have spoken to I would classify as losers.”
“Unless you want to deal with the fact that we are envied for our success, you are not going to solve it,” he said. Just as one calls certain haters “racist,” it is important to call antisemites “losers,” Goldwasser said.
The ADL has not yet responded to a query from JNS.