ZOA: ADL Mailer On Campus Hate Speech Doesnt Focus On Jew-Hatred

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When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913, its mission was “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”  A recent letter signed by Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and National Director, suggests that protecting the Jewish people is not the ADL’s main priority.

Stating in the letter that “hate and bias have no place” on college campuses, the ADL seeks help to “combat hate speech on campus.”  It describes in the opening sentences of the letter the tactics that extremists are using, immediately highlighting the “[r]acist fliers, posters and stickers with slogans like ‘Imagine a Muslim-free America’” that appear on street signs and elsewhere – hateful tactics that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) also abhors and condemns.

But the word “Jew” or “Jewish” is not in the ADL’s letter at all.  It is not until the next-to-last paragraph of the letter that the word “anti-Semitic” appears.  This is concerning and perplexing, not only because of the ADL’s founding mission to protect the Jewish people, but also because the latest FBI hate crime statistics once again show – as they do year after year – that Jews are by far the largest targets of religious hate crimes.  There were more than double the number of hate crimes against Jews than against Muslims.

The ADL is right to condemn and fight anti-Muslim bigotry.  It is right to condemn and fight white supremacists and the Alt-Right who engage in hate speech on campus.  But in a letter to combat hate speech on campus, the ADL’s failure to even mention that Jews are being targeted, and it omission of the well-documented on-campus culprits of hate speech against Jews – SJP and its allies like JVP – are deeply concerning. 

Moreover, in its letter to combat hate speech on campus, the ADL’s focus is on white supremacists and the Alt-Right who, the ADL states, “are engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts on college campuses.”  There is not a single reference to the vile and divisive messages that are also coming from the extremist left – from hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and its partner, Jewish Voice for Peace – which target, harass and threaten Jews on campus.

SJP supporters have called for an intifada on college campuses – the term for the Palestinian Arab terror war against Jews in Israel.  An SJP rally at Hunter College blamed the “Zionists” for rising tuition, and SJP supporters despicably chanted, “Jews out of CUNY,” “Death to Jews,” and other hateful invectives.  SJP is the primary agent behind the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) initiatives on campus, which, studies show, directly correlate with anti-Semitic acts on campus.   

SJP not only promotes hatred against Jews and Israel. It also tries to shut down dissenting voices, disrupting Jewish and pro-Israel events on campuses such as City College of New York, the University of California, Irvine, and Cornell University, to name just a few.  A key finding of a 2016 Brandeis University study of campus anti-Semitism is that an active SJP group on campus is one of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate toward Jews.

SJP’s partner on campus, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), plays a major role in promoting the hatred of Jews and Israel, yet there’s no mention of this radical left group in the ADL’s request for help to combat hate speech on campus.  Despite its name, there is nothing about JVP that promotes Jewish values or peace.  JVP is an open supporter of BDS, which is anti-peace and seeks Israel’s elimination.  At its last national conference, JVP hosted Linda Sarsour – an anti-Semite and Israel-basher who, among other things, opposes the existence of the Jewish state of Israel and claimed that Zionists cannot be feminists – and Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist who was recently deported from the U.S. for lying about her terrorist crimes on her immigration forms.  Recently, JVP launched an attack on Birthright Israel, a program that provides thousands of young Jewish adults each year with the gift of a 10-day trip to Israel, with the laudable goal of strengthening the Jewish community and strengthening Jewish young adults’ connection to Israel. 

The ADL is right to condemn and fight anti-Muslim bigotry.  It is right to condemn and fight white supremacists and the Alt-Right who engage in hate speech on campus.  But in a letter to combat hate speech on campus, the ADL’s failure to even mention that Jews are being targeted, and it omission of the well-documented on-campus culprits of hate speech against Jews – SJP and its allies like JVP – are deeply concerning.  The ADL cannot be fulfilling its mission to protect the Jewish people if it fails to make that fight its main priority, and if it fails to acknowledge the tactics of the radical left-wing groups that play such a significant role in creating a hostile even dangerous campus environment for Jews across the country. 

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