Jonathan Greenblatt: Why Is Anti-Semitism On the Rise?
ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt on the various threats to Jews today, why humor helps, and how his #Resistance is hatred of all kinds.
ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt on the various threats to Jews today, why humor helps, and how his #Resistance is hatred of all kinds.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), ripped into leaders of the Women’s March for attending a Louis Farrakhan speech the prior weekend.
Greenblatt prefaced his Medium post by noting that Farrakhan’s speech during last weekend’s Nation of Islam convention was laced with anti-Semitism, which included statements about how “Jews are part of ‘the Synagogue of Satan;’ that the white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews; that Jews control various countries including Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany where they take advantage of the money, the culture and the business; that Jesus called Jews ‘the children of the devil’; and ‘when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.’” Farrakhan also promoted the anti-Semitic slander “that Jews control the government and the FBI and use marijuana to feminize black men.”
“The NOI uses its programs, institutions, publications, and social media to disseminate its message of hate,” Greenblatt wrote. “At last weekend’s convention they were heavily promoting, ‘The Secret History Between Blacks and Jews,’ a multivolume tract that blames Jews for orchestrating the transatlantic slave trade. It deserves a place on the shelf of every bigot alongside ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ another work of libelous fiction used to foment little more than intolerance.”
Greenblatt also pointed to Farrakhan’s bigoted statements toward whites and gays and then noted that too many public figures “have a blind spot” and specifically called out a couple of leaders of the Women’s March.
“Consider that in the audience at last weekend’s conference was Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, who got a special shout-out from Farrakhan and who regularly posts laudatory pictures of him on her Instagram account — as does Carmen Perez, another leader of the March,” Greenblatt wrote. “Linda Sarsour, another March organizer, spoke and participated at a Nation of Islam event in 2015. Her most notable response to his incendiary remarks this year was a glowing post on Perez’s Facebook page to praise Farrakhan’s youthful demeanor.”
Perez simply dismissed Farrakhan’s bigotry by stating that no one’s “perfect,” according to Greenblatt. Mallory touted a tweet from rapper called Mysonne to show that she isn’t anti-Semitic, although the Washington Free Beacon noted that Mysonne once tweeted that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks.
Zioness Movement President Amanda Berman called on the Women’s March leaders to condemn Farrakhan.
“It is hypocritical beyond words that they continue to align themselves with Louis Farrakhan, who is an unapologetic bigot that spews hate targeting the Jewish community, LGBTQ community and others,” Berman said in a statement. “There is no ambiguity on this issue. Either the Women’s March leaders endorse the vilification of the Jewish people or they don’t. It’s that simple.”
Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) was also mentioned in Greenblatt’s post for recently praising Farrakhan, and when pressed on it Davis attempted to walk it back but has yet to publicly condemn Farrakhan.
CNN’s Jake Tapper launched a tweetstorm on Feb. 28 about Farrakhan’s speech:
On Sunday, Rev. Farrakhan gave his Saviours' Day 2018 Address, attended by thousands including one of the co-founders of the Women's March.https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
Shortly after 1:10:50 in the video Farrakhan proclaims that "the powerful Jews are my enemy.” https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
At 2:57:00 he begins approvingly quoting some of the anti-Semitic comments made by Rev. Billy Graham and President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office.https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
At 2:59:00 Farrakhan approvingly cites Nixon and Graham attacking Jews' "grip on the media" and Hollywood and "how the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
At 3:15, Farrakhan calls Jews 'the mother and father of apartheid, the Jews."https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
Assailing Keith Ellison, at 3:21 Farrakhan says, "let me tell you something, when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door."
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
at 3;49: “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan …has pulled the cover off the eyes of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through." https://t.co/WE5ys7It8R
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
This is who Farrakhan is. It's why folks are legitimately so offended when they found out that then-Sen. Obama and members of the CBC met with him in 2005. https://t.co/QdGpWuGdZ6
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
The difference between Farrakhan and some members of the alt-reich whose heinous bigotry has received a lot of attention this past year: Farrakhan has a much larger following and elected officials meet with him openly.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 28, 2018
The ADL has also recently criticized three Democrats, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), for attending a 2013 dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Farrakhan was also an attendee at the dinner.
In addition to his bigoted statements, Farrakhan’s record includes lavishing praise on the Iranian regime and deposed dictators Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi. Farrakhan also established a partnership between the NOI and the Church of Scientology and believes that an unidentified flying object (UFO) known as the “Mother Wheel” that “will rain destruction upon white America, but save those who embrace the Nation of Islam.”
Jewish groups responded to the mass shooting in Las Vegas by condemning the violence and calling for gun control legislation.
At least 58 people are dead and more than 500 wounded in the attack at a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Strip late Sunday night. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Reform movement were among the groups that called for tougher gun control laws in the attack’s aftermath.
“While we are still learning details and do not know the impetus for the killings, one thing is clear: the threat of mass violence against innocent civilians in America has not abated. This threat must be taken seriously,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. He called for the enactment of “tough, effective gun violence prevention measures.”
Greenblatt said its Center on Extremism is investigating the background and activity of shooter Stephen Paddock and whether he may have ties to extremists or was motivated by any extremist ideology.
B’nai B’rith International said it is “well past time for meaningful, bipartisan gun violence legislation in this country.” It also said: “Though information about the shooter and his arsenal is still being uncovered, we have long held there is no acceptable, reasonable need for civilians to have access to large rounds of ammunition.”
“B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with the Las Vegas community and with all those impacted by gun violence around the nation,” the statement also said.
National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman in a statement called for Congress to act to “stem the tide of this senseless violence before yesterday’s tragedy becomes just another record to be broken.”
“Federal lawmakers must act now to restrict access to automatic weapons, reject the current bill before Congress that would make it easier to buy silencers, and instead focus on how to make our communities and our country safer. NCJW expects nothing less from our elected officials,” the statement also said.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the mass shooting cannot be termed a random act of violence.
“Even before all the facts are known we know this: rather than revere gun rights our country must finally revere human life,” he said.
“We mourn those callously slaughtered in Las Vegas and pray for the wounded. But our prayers must be followed by action, long overdue limits to the easy access to fire arms.”
The Jewish Federations of North America in its statement called on people wherever they are to donate blood.
“These attacks are just the latest instances of senseless violence that terrorizes innocent people everywhere and must come to an end,” the group said.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, also called the attack “senseless.”
“On behalf of world Jewry, I condemn this horrific criminal act,” he said in a statement.
David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said that while authorities have not determined whether the shooting was an act of terror, “there is no question that it has terrorized and traumatized hundreds of innocent people.”
Cheryl Fishbein, the JCPA’s chair, added: “It is imperative that we come together to address the underlying causes in the days ahead.”
There are over 70,000 Jews and at least 19 synagogues in Las Vegas, according to the JewishVegas.com website.
A group that took part in the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is embarking on a yearlong recruitment campaign on college campuses, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Identity Evropa, a group founded last year that seeks to promote “white American culture,” is engaging in a campaign called “Project Siege,” which involves posting fliers and posters on campuses promoting its goals. The ADL, which tracked a rise last school year in white supremacist activity on college campuses, has documented 12 campuses where the group has advertised in the new school year.
Identity Evropa led chants of “You will not replace us” at the Charlottesville rally last month, which some rally-goers then paired with “Jews will not replace us.” Fear of “replacement” by immigrants is a major theme of European nativist movements. Identity Evropa supports a policy of “remigration” of immigrants out of the United States, and does not allow Jews as members.
In August, its members disrupted a pro-immigration forum at Miami-Dade College. During the 2016-2017 school year, the ADL reported 65 incidents of Identity Evropa materials on American college campuses.
“Identity Evropa is actively targeting campuses and their actions are extremely disruptive and unsettling to students,” said ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt. “The message is explicitly racist and anti-Semitic. They know they’re going to get a reaction when they show up on campus. Fortunately their message is near-universally rejected by students and faculty.
The State Department will fill the post of special envoy for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism following the urging of lawmakers and Jewish groups, but will do away with or combine dozens of other diplomatic positions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the announcement in a letter sent Monday to Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The special envoy post, which was mandated in the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, has remained unfilled since Trump’s inauguration in late January, as have many other such posts. The envoy monitors acts of anti-Semitism abroad, documents the cases in State Department reports, and consults with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has been unstaffed since July 1.
Congress members, Jewish groups and Jewish leaders have been urging Tillerson to keep the office open and name an envoy.
According to the Tillerson letter, the office will be returned to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, with two positions and $130,000 in funding.
“I believe that the Department will be able to better execute its mission by integrating certain envoys and special representative offices within the regional and functional bureaus, and eliminating those that have accomplished or outlived their original purpose,” he wrote. “In some cases, the State Department would leave in place several positions and offices, while in other cases, positions and offices would be either consolidated or integrated with the most appropriate bureau. If an issue no longer requires a special envoy or representative, then an appropriate bureau will manage any legacy responsibilities.”
Other envoys that will be retained include the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; Israel and the Palestinian Authority, U.S. security coordinator; special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS; the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; and the special envoy for Holocaust issues.
Of 66 current special envoys or representatives, 30 will remain. Nine positions will be eliminated, 21 will be integrated into other offices, five merged with other positions, and one transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Anti-Defamation League, which ran a campaign to urge Tillerson to retain the position, including sending the secretary of state a petition signed by thousands of Americans, praised the decision.
“We commend Secretary Tillerson for listening to the voices calling for the appointment of the special envoy to counter anti-Semitism,” National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “This position has been an essential diplomatic and political tool in fighting anti-Semitism around the globe.
“We urge the State Department to refrain from eliminating other special envoy roles which are vital to promoting American values of democracy, tolerance and religious freedom across the globe.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt welcomed President Donald Trump’s public denunciation of white supremacists and neo-Nazis on Monday but cautioned that Trump’s statements “are no longer sufficient.”
[This story originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]
During a press call moments after the President singled out the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists as “repugnant,” Greenblatt criticized Trump for sending a message to “white supremacists and extremists rallying around his rhetoric” and for “his unwillingness to consistently and forcefully denounce their behavior.”
“This was not a subtle dog whistle, but like a bullhorn and a signal for them to try and rise and take a seat at the center of the public conversation,” the head of the Anti-Defamation League empathized.
Pointing to several incidents in the past, Greenblatt suggested that Trump’s “many sides” comments on Saturday, demonstrated a pattern. “We have seen a pattern of the President equivocating in the face of intolerance, and an unwillingness to call out white supremacists, to name neo-Nazis, or to attack the alt-right,” Greenblatt told Jewish Insider. “Let’s just say it’s hard to understand what his intentions are. I can’t discern what’s in his head or in his heart. At the ADL, we can only deal with the impact. And the impact is, an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents. The impact is an increased tempo of white supremacist activity across the country. The impact is as we saw this weekend, unbridled violence from the worst elements of society. And so we find it very troubling that it has taken so long and it has been a serial issue.”
Greenblatt called for a bipartisan approach to address the issue. “I think we know that members of Congress care about this issue, these few men speak up again and again. I think it’s a good opportunity for them to work together to take action,” he said. “That could be, again directing federal agencies to do things, it could be directing the President to announce a new White House coordinator for fighting hate. As we’ve seen with previous administrations, it’s appropriate to elevate priorities with new dedicated personnel. Now again, if he can’t do it, then I think it’s possible that the Congress could appoint someone to this sort of role.”
The ADL chief also suggested that Congress work on federal-level legislation to protect students from religious harassment and discrimination on college campuses, particularly Jewish students who increasingly find themselves to be the targets of anti-Semitism. “We’ve seen an uptick in white supremacists recruiting on college campuses,” he explained. “We’ve recorded over 160 racist flyering incidents in more than 30 states in the last academic year. Our kids need protection, that’s an area where Democrats and Republicans could work together.”
Two days after the death of a 32-year-old woman during a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., and amidst a furor over his delay in condemning the rally in specific terms, President Donald Trump condemned the “racist violence” and declared that “racism is evil.”
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and other hate groups who are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday in a statement he delivered at the White House.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred and violence. It has no place in America,” Trump said. He also said the Department of Justice had opened up a civil rights investigation into the attack, and honored by name Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday after a car driven by a 20-year-old who has espoused neo-Nazi views plowed into counterprotesters.
Trump had been under pressure since Saturday to forcefully condemn the white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. His initial statement, condemning “hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides” angered Democrats and Republicans alike for seeming to draw a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and the counterprotesters. In a subsequent tweet he had expressed condolences to “the family of the young woman killed today” but did not name Heyer.
Jewish leaders also noted the widespread expressions of anti-Semitism of the rally, which included demonstrators carrying signs reading “Jews are Satan’s children,” Nazi flags and chants of “Jews will not replace us.”
In a statement Saturday, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”
On Sunday the White House put out a statement, attributed to an unnamed spokesperson, saying, “The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K., neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
That statement still failed to satisfy many critics who noted that some white supremacist groups who were encouraged that Trump had not himself singled them out. On Monday, David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called on Trump to “make clear that our nation does not countenance the warped views of bigots, as was on display in Charlottesville.” He also urged the president “to send a strong message to these extremist groups that their endorsement is not welcome.”
Jewish groups and Jewish leaders condemned the violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, and criticized President Donald Trump for saying that the hatred and violence came from “many sides.”
“The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in statement issued on Saturday evening, adding that “once again, hate has killed.
Three people were killed as a result of the weekend neo-Nazi event. One woman was killed and 19 injured, some seriously, after a car driven by an Ohio man slammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. The driver, identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was taken into police custody and the incident is under investigation.
Two Virginia state troopers were killed when their police helicopter crashed and caught on fire while responding to clashes between white supremacist protestors and counterprotesters.
“We commend the opening of President Trump’s statement condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” but are deeply troubled by the moral equivalence evident in President Trump’s statement today. White supremacists wielding Nazi flags and spewing racist vitriol need to be specifically condemned, not only violence and hate ‘on many sides.’ If our leaders can’t call out this virulent strand of hate we will surely fail to stop it,” Jacobs also said in his statement.
Trump held a news conference from his summer vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey after posting tweets criticizing the violence in Charlottesville, including one which read: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
“What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society,” he also tweeted.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned the “inconceivable violence” on display in Charlottesville.
““It is utterly distressing and repugnant that such hatred and bigotry still run rampant in parts of this country. There is no place in our democratic society for such violence and intolerance. We must be vigilant and united in our opposition to such abhorrence,” he said in a statement.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the violence in Charlottesville in a tweet posted Saturday afternoon. “Mayhem in #charlottesville. We pray for victims of #violence & condemn those who marched thru streets chanting #hate,” he tweeted.
He also praised Trump for condemning the violence but criticized him for not specifically condemning the white supremacist movement. “Glad @POTUS blasted violence but long overdue for moral ldrshp that condemns the agents of #hate: #WhiteSupremacists, #NeoNazis, #AltRight,” he tweeted.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) August 12, 2017
In a statement later issued by ADL, Greenberg said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”
“We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people,” he also said.
The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Appalled by white supremacists & neo-Nazis in #Charlottesville preaching #racism, spewing #antiSemitism & #homophobia & glorifying violence.”
The organization also called on Trump to find “moral clarity.”
“@POTUS Time for moral clarity. Condemning ‘hatred, bigotry & violence on many sides’ blurs truth & gives pass to neo-Nazi perpetrators,” AJC tweeted.
Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett, who is head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, condemned the rally and called on U.S. leaders to denounce the anti-Semitism connected to it.
“The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the U.S. is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the U.S. and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement, adding: “The leaders of the U.S. must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who was a former candidate for president, in a tweet slammed Trump for his handling of Charlottesville. “No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is.”
No, Mr. President. This is a provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism and hatred and create violence. Call it out for what it is. https://t.co/WibPqkLsLa
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 12, 2017
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who ran for and lost his bid for a Senate seat in Louisiana, and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s presidential run, tweeted in response to Trump’s call for all Americans to unite against hate.
“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke tweeted.
I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists. https://t.co/Rkfs7O2Ykr
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 12, 2017
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, in his meeting with senior Palestinian officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday, a White House official told Jewish Insider.
[This story originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]
Friedman was introduced to the Palestinian negotiating team by Greenblatt and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, who has the responsibility for dealing with the Palestinian Authority, according to the official. “They had an open, cordial, and frank discussion on many topics related to peace negotiations,” the official said.
Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly rejected the U.S. request to include Friedman in meeting with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Greenblatt in Ramallah.
Friedman’s participation in Greenblatt’s meeting with the Palestinians was first reported by Haaretz.
The fact that Friedman was part of the meeting is highly unusual, but not unprecedented, former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk told Jewish Insider. Indyk met several times with then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat but only in Gaza — in his first term (1995-1997) the U.S. Embassy had responsibility for Gaza — or to broker a ceasefire deal during the second intifada.
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, however, never attended official meetings with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah despite being a member of Indyk’s team when he served as Mideast envoy under Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to the WH official, the President insisted that Friedman should be part of the team to broker peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. “The Administration believes that in order to give everyone the best chance to reach an ultimate deal, it is critical to have negotiators that are close with the President and that is why the team includes Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman,” the official said.
“I believe Trump is serious about getting the ‘ultimate deal,’ but this incident probably says more about his lack of familiarity with the existing diplomatic protocols,” Indyk said. “Nevertheless, If Greenblatt wants Friedman on his team, he should have him. It’s good for the Palestinians to hear Friedman’s perspective which is informed by his knowledge of the Israeli side. But then by the same token Greenblatt should have the Consul General Doug Blome on his team and in meetings with Israeli negotiators. That way the Israelis could gain the benefit of his knowledge of the Palestinian side.”
Trump’s unusual move indicates he is serious about reaching a peace deal because he wants what he considers his best people working on it in all the meetings, a former U.S official, who was involved in previous peace talks and requested to remain anonymous, told Jewish Insider. “The Administration probably thinks it helps by giving the Palestinians another channel to and from Trump.”
The head of the Anti-Defamation League drew parallels between Syria’s alleged use of a crematorium to dispose of bodies to actions committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s national director, also called on the international community, including Russia, to take action to stop the violence perpetuated by the Syrian government under the leadership of President Bashar Assad.
“As Jews, we are particularly shocked by the extreme brutality of the Syrian regime, which invokes the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people,” Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. “The world learned from the twentieth century that it did not do enough to stop the crimes of the Nazis which led to the genocide of six million Jews.
“The nations of the world — including first and foremost Russia, which continues to aid and abet Assad’s brutality — must act to put an end to the inhumane actions of the Syrian government.”
On Monday, the United States said it believes the Syrian government built a crematorium to cover up the killing of as many as 50 detainees a day at a prison north of Damascus.
“Although the regime’s many atrocities are well-documented, we believe the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass atrocities taking place in Saydnaya prison,” said Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, according to CNN.
Jones added: “We are appalled by the atrocities taking place in Syria” with the “seemingly unconditional support of Russia.”
The U.S. Holocaust Museum in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon said it welcomed the release of the previously classified imagery pointing to the alleged crematorium.
Photographs of torture and death in by Syrian security forces in secret facilities have been on display at the museum since 2015; the photos were taken by a former regime photographer code-named Caesar. “These photographs constitute the most comprehensive evidence of the regime’s widespread and systematic targeting of Syrian civilians,” the museum said in its statement.
“The State Department’s revelation that the regime is now taking extraordinary efforts to cover up its crimes, through the suspected use of crematoria, demonstrate why it is all the more important to redouble efforts to bring the conflict to an end and investigate, document, and hold accountable those who direct and carry out these widespread atrocities,” according to the statement.
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League urged the establishing of a federal task force to coordinate hate crimes responses across the executive branch in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jonathan Greenblatt set forth a series of policy recommendations during a Tuesday hearing on an increase in religious hate crimes, according to an ADL statement.
“All of us are deeply concerned about the ongoing harassment of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who are being targeted because of their religion,” Greenblatt told committee members. “The federal government has an essential leadership role to play in confronting hate crimes and in alleviating intolerance. And we need to make sure that we call out bigotry whenever it happens.”
Greenblatt recommended creating a task force that would help law enforcement agencies improve hate crimes data collection and training, enacting laws to combat hate crimes, exploring approaches to cyberhate and calling out bigotry.
On Monday, the American Jewish Committee praised members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him “to undertake effective action to address the increasing number of religious hate crimes in the U.S.”
“Effectively combating hate crimes demands a concerted federal government response,” said Richard Foltin, the AJC’s director of national and legislative affairs. “It is imperative that federal authorities help state and local authorities in carrying out their responsibility to monitor and prosecute hate crimes, and bring cases under federal hate crimes laws, where necessary.”
Nearly 150 JCCs and other Jewish institutions have received bomb threats and three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized this year. In March, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department charged the teen, Michael Kadar, with making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.
Jewish organizations representing a variety of viewpoints on Tuesday praised President Donald Trump for his Holocaust Remembrance Day remarks.
“We welcome President Trump’s clear pledge today to confront anti-Semitism and we look forward to working with the president and his administration to put his pledge into action,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said in a statement, a departure from many recent ADL statements that have criticized the president for his failure to denounce the apparent rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.
“We deeply appreciate President Trump’s heartfelt remarks today commemorating the Holocaust and honoring the memory of the six million Jewish people mercilessly killed by the Nazi regime,” Orthodox Union (OU) President Mark Bane said in a statement.
“After several gross missteps related to Holocaust remembrance in the first 100 days of his administration, President Trump finally struck the right note in his speech at the Capitol today at a ceremony in honor of victims of the Shoah,” left-leaning pro-Israel group JStreet said in a statement.
JStreet added the president should fire Steve Bannon, chief strategist in the Trump administration and Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, in order to demonstrate his words are more than empty promises.
“If he wants his words to carry conviction, the president should fire both men immediately,” the JStreet statement said.
Appearing at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, Trump emphasized support for Israel, mourned the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and said he would not tolerate acts of anti-Semitism.
“The state of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people,” Trump said on Tuesday, hours after the conclusion of Yom HaShoah, which began Sunday evening, ended Monday evening and commemorates the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust between 1933-1945.
Trump’s words followed his omission of the word, “Jews,” from remarks in January commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Yom HaShoah was established by the Israeli government. International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz and was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
Here are the president’s Yom HaShoah remarks in full:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Friends, members of Congress, ambassadors, veterans, and, most especially, to the survivors here with us today, it’s an honor to join you on this very, very solemn occasion. I am deeply moved to stand before those who survived history’s darkest hour. Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering.
Thank you, Tom Bernstein, Alan Holt, Sara Bloomfield, and everyone at the Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum for your vital work and tireless contributions.
We are privileged to be joined by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, friend of mine — he’s done a great job and said some wonderful words — Ron Dermer. The State of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life, and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.
To those in the audience who have served America in uniform, our country eternally thanks you. We are proud and grateful to be joined today by veterans of the Second World War who liberated survivors from the camps. Your sacrifice helped save freedom for the world — for the entire world. (Applause.)
Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man. His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room. It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell, and whose courage still lights the path from darkness. Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating. He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust. His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz. He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald. He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it.
The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget, and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description. Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved, gone. You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter. You saw the starvation and the torture. You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people — and great people, I must add. You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps. And you persevered to tell your stories. You tell of these living nightmares because, despite your great pain, you believe in Elie’s famous plea, that “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
That is why we are here today — to remember and to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.
The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy, without even a sign of mercy.
Yet, even today, there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil. And we’ll never be silent — we just won’t — we will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again. (Applause.)
Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world. We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square, and in threats against Jewish citizens. Even worse, it’s been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction.
This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism (Applause.) We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness. And we will act. As President of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people — and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the State of Israel.
So today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth.
We remember the millions of other innocent victims the Nazis so brutally targeted and so brutally killed. We remember the survivors who bore more than we can imagine. We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom.
But we also remember the light that shone through the darkness. We remember sisters and brothers who gave everything to those they loved — survivors like Steven Springfield, who, in the long death march, carried his brother on his back. As he said, “I just couldn’t give in.”
We remember the brave souls who banded together to save the lives of their neighbors — even at the risk of their own life. And we remember those first hopeful moments of liberation, when at long last the American soldiers arrived in camps and cities throughout occupied Europe, waving the same beautiful flags before us today, speaking those three glorious words: “You are free.”
It is this love of freedom, this embrace of human dignity, this call to courage in the face of evil that the survivors here today have helped to write onto our hearts. The Jewish people have endured oppression, persecution, and those who have sought and planned their destruction. Yet, through the suffering, they have persevered. They have thrived. And they have enlightened the world. We stand in awe of the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.
I want to close with a story enshrined in the Museum that captures the moment of liberation in the final days of the war.
It is the story of Gerda Klein, a young Jewish woman from Poland. Some of you know her. Gerda’s family was murdered by the Nazis. She spent three years imprisoned in labor camps, and the last four months of the war on a terrible death march. She assumed it was over. At the end, on the eve of her 21st birthday, her hair had lost all of its color, and she weighed a mere 68 pounds. Yet she had the will to live another day. It was tough.
Gerda later recalled the moment she realized that her long-awaited deliverance had arrived. She saw a car coming towards her. Many cars had driven up before, but this one was different. On its hood, in place of that wretched swastika, was a bright, beautiful, gleaming white star. Two American soldiers got out. One walked up to her. The first thing Gerda said was what she had been trained to say: “We are Jewish, you know.” “We are Jewish.” And then he said, “So am I.” It was a beautiful moment after so much darkness, after so much evil.
As Gerda took this solider to see the other prisoners, the American did something she had long forgotten to even expect — he opened the door for her. In Gerda’s words, “that was the moment of restoration of humanity, of humanness, of dignity, and of freedom.”
But the story does not end there. Because, as some of you know, that young American soldier who liberated her and who showed her such decency would soon become her husband. A year later, they were married. In her words, “He opened not only the door for me, but the door to my life and to my future.”
Gerda has since spent her life telling the world of what she witnessed. She, like those survivors who are among us today, has dedicated her life to shining a light of hope through the dark of night.
Your courage strengthens us. Your voices inspire us. And your stories remind us that we must never, ever shrink away from telling the truth about evil in our time. Evil is always seeking to wage war against the innocent and to destroy all that is good and beautiful about our common humanity. But evil can only thrive in darkness. And what you have brought us today is so much more powerful than evil. You have brought us hope — hope that love will conquer hatred, that right will defeat wrong, and that peace will rise from the ashes of war.
Each survivor here today is a beacon of light, and it only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space. Just like it takes only one truth to crush a thousand lies and one hero to change the course of history. We know that in the end, good will triumph over evil, and that as long as we refuse to close our eyes or to silence our voices, we know that justice will ultimately prevail.
So today we mourn. We remember. We pray. And we pledge: Never again.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
More than half of Americans are concerned about anti-Semitism and more than three-quarters are concerned about violence against Muslims, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found in two new public opinion polls.
The results show that a majority of Americans, 52 percent, are concerned about violence in the U.S. directed at Jews, and 76 percent are concerned about violence directed at Muslims. The ADL based its findings on 1,500 interviews conducted last October and 3,600 in January and February.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL chief executive, said he was heartened by the survey results, showing that people are concerned about Jews and Muslims.
“We conducted two polls to ensure that we fully understood the mood of the country,” he said in a statement. “The good news in this research is that today a large majority of Americans do not subscribe to common anti-Semitic stereotypes. It’s also encouraging that a record number of Americans are concerned about violence against the Jewish and Muslim communities, and are troubled at how intolerance has infected our politics.”
The polls are part of ADL’s continuing research into anti-Jewish attitudes under the ADL Global 100, a project begun in 2014 to establish a worldwide index of anti-Semitic attitudes.
Released on April 6, the new surveys measured, among other things, perceptions of President Donald Trump and whether he holds prejudiced views. A third of respondents agreed with the statement “Donald Trump holds anti-Semitic views,” while half disagreed. The remaining 17 percent “don’t know,” said Todd Gutnick, vice president of communications at the ADL.
The surveys also found that 14 percent of the American population holds anti-Semitic beliefs.
Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, said Trump could have done more to discourage anti-Semitism, the survey found, and more than 8 in 10 Americans, 84 percent, said they believe it is important for the government to play a role in combating anti-Semitism, up from 70 percent in 2014.
A majority of Americans, 52 percent, are concerned about violence in the U.S. directed at Jews, and 76 percent are concerned about violence directed at Muslims.
The polls also examined anti-Semitism in politics and whether “Americans believe there was more anti-Semitism in the 2016 election than previously.” Nearly half of those surveyed, 47 percent, said there was more and 39 percent said the level was no more than in previous campaigns.
Last October, the ADL released “Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” a study that concluded that although Trump may not be the cause of anti-Semitism, people who were responsible for spreading hate online often were supporters of Trump as a candidate.
Regarding Muslims, the survey found that 59 percent of respondents agree that “Donald Trump holds anti-Muslim views,” and 64 percent said they do not believe the government is doing enough to ensure their safety.
Perceptions of Trump bias against Muslims may be due, in part, to his efforts to use executive orders to bar individuals from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Federal judges have twice stuck down his orders.
“It’s discouraging to know that Muslims and other minorities feel unsafe. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do,” Greenblatt said.
Overall, the survey found that 34 percent of American Muslims hold anti-Semitic views, compared with 55 percent of Muslims in Europe and 75 percent in Middle East/North Africa.
The poll’s release comes on the heels of several incidents of vandalism targeting Jewish cemeteries and waves of bomb threats that have targeted Jewish community centers, schools and other institutions, including ADL offices, across North America over the past several months.
Authorities arrested two people in connection with the bomb threats, all of which turned out to be hoaxes: Juan Thompson, a discredited journalist in St. Louis who was apparently seeking revenge against an ex-girlfriend; and Michael Kaydar, an Israeli-American teenager who his lawyer said may suffer from mental illness.
The ADL was one of several organizations that compiled data on the more than 150 bomb threats that targeted Jewish centers.
The ADL has been polling anti-Semitic attitudes in the U.S. since 1964. Later this month, the organization plans to release an audit of 2016 anti-Semitic incidents, drawing on data from ADL regional offices, including ADL Pacific Southwest, which serves Los Angeles.
The October survey, conducted by Marttila Strategies, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. The more recent poll, conducted by First International Resources, had a margin of error of 1.6 percent for the general population and 3 percent for American Muslims.
Last month, I wrote a column under the headline, “There Is No Wave of Trump-Induced Anti-Semitism or Racism.” I was right. But my being right is not what matters. What matters is that the mainstream media and the Jewish left — which is now essentially almost all of Jewish life outside of Orthodoxy — were wrong. So wrong that it was morally inexcusable.
Some Jewish leaders need to either publicly apologize — to the Jewish community, to conservatives, to America and to President Donald Trump — or be fired from their positions.
The entire claim that America was engulfed in a rising tide of anti-Semitism was a lie — “fake news.” And the claim that Trump’s election is what aroused all this anti-Semitism was not merely a lie, it was malicious libel.
No Jew has disseminated this libel as much as Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York, part of a worldwide network. The man has engaged in chillul Anne Frank — a desecration of the name of Anne Frank.
Here are a few examples of Goldstein’s public comments:
“The cancer of Antisemitism has infected his [Trump’s] own Administration.”
“Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.”
“The most vicious antisemites in America are looking at you [Trump] and your administration as a nationalistic movement granting them permission to attack Jews, Jewish institutions, and sacred Jewish sites.”
The entire claim that America was engulfed in a rising tide of anti-Semitism was a lie — “fake news.”
If the organization doesn’t fire this man, it is complicit in his radical politicization of an institution calling itself a center for “Mutual Respect,” and in the misuse of Anne Frank’s name to disseminate political hate.
More important than Goldstein and his so-called Center for Mutual Respect is Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of what is supposed to be the leading American-Jewish organization dedicated to exposing and combating anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League. He has played a leading role in disseminating the narrative that since the Trump election, America has been drenched in anti-Semitism — even comparing its levels to those of Nazi Germany.
As reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in December:
“ ‘Anti-Semitic rhetoric in the United States has reached levels unprecedented since 1930s Germany,’ Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned a gathering of Israeli lawmakers in Jerusalem on Monday.
“ ‘Anti-Semitism has wound its way into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying,’ he said at the Knesset meeting, which was convened to discuss the plight of American Jewry under the incoming Trump administration.”
Greenblatt’s allusion to Nazi Germany cheapened the evil of Nazism and of the Holocaust; I wrote about left-wing Jews doing this very thing in another column in mid-February.
And note Haaretz’s inflammatory description — “the plight of American Jewry under the incoming Trump administration” — made six weeks before there was a Trump administration!
In December, Greenblatt told NPR:
“We found it so deeply problematic when some of the images and some of the rhetoric [from Trump] seemed to evoke longstanding anti-Semitic conspiracies.”
Greenblatt repeated this charge in February in an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post:
“Last year, we watched as the Trump campaign repeatedly tweeted and shared anti-Semitic imagery and language, allowing this poison to move from the margins into the mainstream of the public conversation.”
That whole charge — made by the left within and outside of Jewish life — was false. But the left has always believed it is OK to falsely accuse conservatives of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, bigotry, xenophobia, hate, etc. It’s effective, after all.
Greenblatt also wrote in that Washington Post column:
“Trump could have said he condemns anti-Semitism and takes incidents, such as the dozens of threats made to Jewish Community Centers, seriously. But instead, he lashed out against those asking the question.”
It turns out that President Trump was right: There was no eruption of anti-Semitism in America, let alone in the White House. And “those asking the question” did indeed deserve the contempt the president showed them.
It turns out that some disturbed American-Jewish kid in Israel was the source of nearly all these threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs). And the handful of other threats to JCCs came from a Black radical.
So, it turns out, as I wrote here four weeks ago: “[T]here is no wave of Trump-induced anti-Semitism or racism in America. This is only one more example of left-wing hysteria. … ”
And, it turns out that the conclusion to my column was also valid:
“Jews who think there is such a wave do so because they hate Donald Trump so much, they want to believe it. In other words, a lot of Jews want to believe that Jews are hated in America more than ever. Yet another way in which leftism has poisoned Jewish life.”
That’s the “poison” that ought to concern Jonathan Greenblatt.
In the meantime, he owes the president of the United States and the American people an apology.
Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).
The leader of Israel’s main Republican group called Sarah Silverman a “self-hating Jew” and said she “needs a muzzle.”
Marc Zell made the comments Saturday night on behalf of the Republicans Overseas Israel Facebook page, which he manages as the group’s co-chairman. The post links to a blog post about a decade-old video clip of the Jewish comedian performing her standup show “Jesus is Magic.”
The Feb. 2 blog post by conservative documentary filmmaker Pat Dollard is titled “Jew Sarah Silverman: “I Hope The Jews Did Kill Christ. I’d Fucking Do It Again In A Second,” and features Silverman delivering a version of that line.
Zell, an attorney who lives in the West Bank settlement Tekoa, said Silverman’s comments “damage” the Jewish community and insult Christians. He said it falls within the mission of Republican Overseas Israel to “call down” public figures like Silverman.
“Republicans Overseas Israel exists in order to not only represent the Republican Party here in Israel but also to represent the Jewish community in Israel to the Republican Party and the millions of Americans who support the Republican Party and our president,” he told JTA Sunday. “I think it’s appropriate to say something about a public figure as widely known as this woman, who during the campaign also had some ‘precious’ views to express about our candidate and our president. People like her need to be called down when they step over the line.”
Silverman — who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and then Hillary Clinton, for president during the 2016 election campaign — has been an outspoken critic of Trump. Last March, during the Republican primaries, she appeared on TBS’ “Conan” dressed as Adolf Hitler and complained of her character being “unfavorably” compared to Trump.
Republican Overseas Israel held a get-out-of the-vote campaign in Israel for Trump during the general election, and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recorded video messages for an event the group held in Jerusalem in October. Zell claimed a record number of Americans in Israel cast absentee ballots, though that was widely disputed.
One of Donald Trump’s most prominent boosters in Israel during the campaign, Zell continues to combatively advocate for and defend the president, along with Israel and the settlements. On the Republicans Overseas Israel Facebook page Thursday, he also deemed the Israeli-American teenager from Asheklon who was arrested last week on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the United States “The Ultimate Self-Hating Jew.”
Four women had commented on Zell’s Facebook post about Silverman Sunday, all agreeing with its sentiment. One invited Silverman to visit the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, saying “Your friends are there, you’ll feel really comfortable and soon the rainy season is over so you won’t drown in your bed.” Others called her a “Trash box” and a “pig.”
Zell responded in a comment Sunday: “Better not to even pass her stuff around. I’m hitting delete.” But the post remained up.
Jerusalem-based journalist Noga Tarnopolsky in a tweet called on the Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition to “do something” about Zell, saying of Zell’s Silverman tweet: “This is in your name.” She also tweeted to the Anti-Defamation League, saying: “Hi
@ADL_National & @JGreenblattADL: An online troll is confusing a prominent Jewish woman with a dog. Do something.”
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 26, 2017
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 26, 2017
Many Jewish groups blamed white supremacists, emboldened by Donald Trump’s campaign, for the bomb threats that have plagued Jewish institutions since the beginning of this year.
It appears the groups were wrong.
The news that one Jewish teen — an Israeli, no less — was behind most of the approximately 150 bomb threats that have hit Jewish community centers since the start of 2017 is a shocking twist in light of months in which the Anti-Defamation League and other groups pointed their collective finger at the far right.
“We’re in unprecedented times,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, at a March 10 news conference on the bomb threats. “We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen. White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”
The ADL has repeatedly charged Trump with emboldening extremists, anti-Semites and far-right groups in the U.S. Other groups were even more explicit in linking rising anti-Semitic acts this year to the new president. On Jan. 10, following the first wave of JCC bomb threats, Bend The Arc, a liberal Jewish group, said that “Trump helped to create the atmosphere of bigotry and violence that has resulted in these dangerous threats against Jewish institutions and individuals.”
In February, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said in a statement to Trump that “Rightly or wrongly, the most vicious anti-Semites in America are looking at you and your Administration as a nationalistic movement granting them permission to attack Jews.”
But the perpetrator of the anti-Semitic acts, while his political opinions are not known, does not fit the profile of a white supremacist. According to Israeli reports, he’s a mentally ill Israeli-American Jewish teenager.
He worked from home, using a computer lab with sophisticated equipment, encryption and transmission systems, and a powerful antenna, according to reports. And his father may have known what he was doing.
Israel’s anti-fraud squad arrested the 19-year-old suspect at his home in southern Israel and searched the premises on Thursday. He was brought to court and ordered held until March 30.
The other suspect in the bomb threats, arrested earlier in March, also does not appear connected to the far right. He’s a left-wing African-American former journalist who apparently made the calls in a convoluted vendetta against a former romantic partner.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told JTA Thursday that the organization stands by its prognosis of a surge in anti-Semitism and hatred in the U.S. since the campaign. Aside from the JCC bombings, Greenblatt pointed to a range of other hateful activities tied to white supremacists, from abuse of journalists on Twitter and harassment of Jews in Whitefish, Mont. to a South Carolina man who plotted a mass shooting at a synagogue.
“The impact is still the same: you’ve got children, families, the elderly, teens and others who have been terrorized by these attacks,” Greenblatt said. “We’ve seen rising levels of bigotry in ways that are brand new. The emergence of the alt-right and the rising levels of abuse they perpetrated during the campaign against Jews and other minorities is despicable.”
The Anne Frank Center, a small group whose profile has risen in part due to the attention around the JCC threats, said in a statement Thursday that “it doesn’t matter where any suspect is from or what his or her background is.” Bend The Arc CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement: “Violence and threats of violence, whoever or wherever they come from, are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
The JCC Association of North America said it was “troubled” by the news that the suspect is Jewish, while the Jewish Federations of North America called the news “heartbreaking.”
Greenblatt and Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish groups and institutions on security, both said the suspect’s age and location were less relevant than the fact that someone has been caught for making the threats.
“What is relevant is that an individual or individuals were placed into custody who were engaged in or involved in criminal behavior, who were looking to terrorize our community,” Goldenberg said. “I do understand why people may have believed that this was part of a larger effort.”
For longtime observers of anti-Semitism, the news showed the need to be cautious when analyzing hateful acts. Former ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, who has previously called for cooler heads in responding to recent hateful acts, said Thursday that the arrest shows the pitfalls of making assumptions.
“Always take these things seriously, but don’t jump to conclusions,” Foxman told JTA. “History has taught us the source of anti-Semitism does not come from one direction. It’s universal in its nature. … I think it is on the increase, but it’s not in epidemic proportions.”
Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, noted that this isn’t the first time that Jews have committed anti-Semitic acts. In 1989, the former president of the Jewish Student Union at the State University of New York in Binghamton was charged with painting anti-Semitic slogans on campus.
“It is a reminder that we have to be very careful before we talk about a whole wave of anti-Semitism,” Sarna said. “Something like this will surely make everybody a little embarrassed as Jews, but also embarrassed in the sense that it’s not what people imagined it would turn out to be.”
Sarna added that this incident shows Jews may not be as hated in America as it may have seemed. He cited a recent study by the Pew Research Center showing Jews to be the most popular religious group in America.
“It’s good to take a middle ground,” he said. “Yes, there are people who hate Jews, but we’re not seeing storm troopers at the gate.”
Still, Sarna and Foxman noted the string of other anti-Semitic acts recently — the cemetery desecrations and swastika graffiti, as well as a deluge of anti-Semitic harassment on Twitter last year. Because anti-Semitic acts, beyond the JCC threats, remain frequent in the U.S., Foxman does not believe that Thursday’s arrest will lead to anyone downplaying future acts of anti-Semitism.
“It’s there,” Foxman said of anti-Semitism. “So there’s one guy who, whatever his problem was, that doesn’t change the fact that every day there are incidents of anti-Semitism in this country.”
The investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica has produced an interactive map that chronicles over 300 anti-Semitic crimes across the United States from the past few months.
The graphic, which was published Wednesday, is a companion to an article ProPublica ran last week, “In an Angry and Fearful Nation, an Outbreak of Anti-Semitism,” which found evidence of over 330 incidents of anti-Semitism between last November and early February.
Both are part of ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” series, which the company launched last year to “gather evidence of hate crimes and episodes of bigotry from a divided America.”
The interactive map links each pin to local news reports from across the country, allowing users to access the original news stories for each instance of anti-Semitism. About 160 of the incidents involve vandalism, such as spray-painted swastikas and other defacement of public spaces.
Other organizations have documented spikes in anti-Semitic incidents since the election of Donald Trump as president in November. The Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 100 incidents in the first 10 days after Trump’s election. The New York Police Department recorded 43 anti-Semitic incidents in New York City in the month after the election.
JTA has reported in recent months that dozens of Jewish community centers across the country have been threatened with over 150 phoned-in or emailed bomb threats.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said at a conference in November that public discourse in the United States on anti-Semitism was at its worst point since the 1930s.
Trump was dogged by assertions during the campaign that he failed to condemn the anti-Semitism displayed by some of his supporters, such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. After avoiding the topic while being asked about it multiple times at news conferences and interviews, Trump condemned the attacks on JCCs late last month.
Chelsea Clinton cited the lessons of Purim to chastise a congressman who said restoring Western civilization could not be done “with somebody else’s babies.”
“Clearly the Congressman does not view all our children as, well, all our children,” Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who lost the November presidential election to Donald Trump, said Sunday in a tweet quoting a tweet by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “Particularly ironic & painful on Purim.”
Clearly the Congressman does not view all our children as, well, all our children. Particularly ironic & painful on Purim. https://t.co/DSmU6hUhhz
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 12, 2017
Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky, is Jewish. Purim celebrates the triumph of Persia’s Jews over a deadly enemy, Haman. Some Jewish traditions cite its lessons as upholding diversity.
King in his tweet praised Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker whose party is among those competing in elections this week in the Netherlands.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” he said. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
The tweet was reviled as bigoted almost as soon as King posted it.
“This is so offensive, it’s hard to know where to start,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, said in a tweet. “America’s greatness is the diversity of our culture, the dynamism of our demography.”
This is so offensive, it's hard to know where to start. America's greatness is the diversity of our culture, the dynamism of our demography https://t.co/DLx6Qp73zr
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) March 12, 2017
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., alluded to King’s closeness to Trump, and claims from Democrats that Trump’s election has spurred increased bigotry, in calling the comment “racist.”
“It’s no accident that communities across America have been threatened by emboldened racists,” she said in a statement Monday. “The GOP Leadership must stop accommodating this garbage, and condemn Congressman Steve King’s statements in the strongest and most unequivocal terms.”
In an appearance on CNN on Monday morning, King would not say whether he believed Muslims were “equals,” but defended the tweet from charges that it was racist.
“It’s the culture, not the blood,” King said. “And if you can go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby with as much patriotism and as much love of country as any other baby. It’s not about race.”
The Anti-Defamation League offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.
More than 100 gravestones were toppled and damaged at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in the city’s Wissinoming section. The vandalism was discovered Sunday.
The reward money leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals is being provided by the Mizel Family Foundation, according to the ADL.
We are appalled to see the desecration of another Jewish cemetery. These attacks need to end now: https://t.co/d9S1KUAWCg
— ADL (@ADL_National) February 26, 2017
It is not known who committed the vandalism or if the motive was anti-Semitism.
A Gofundme campaign for the Philadelphia cemetery was launched by a private citizen, Raphael Caroline, 31, in the hours after the vandalism was discovered. It reached its $10,000 goal and beyond in seven hours.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia also is collecting donations for repairs to the cemetery.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey in a tweet called the attack on the cemetery “a despicable act of vandalism — these acts of hate cannot be tolerated.”
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 26, 2017
The state’s governor, Tom Wolf, in a tweet called the vandalism “a cowardly, disturbing act. We must find those responsible and hold accountable.”
The vandalism of Jewish headstones at a Phila. cemetery is a cowardly, disturbing act. We must find those responsible and hold accountable. https://t.co/6eM0G2tC4S
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) February 26, 2017
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said city officials are working to discover who committed the attack.
“My heart breaks for the families who found their loved ones’ headstones toppled,” he said in a statement. “We are doing all we can to find the perpetrators who desecrated this final resting place, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hate is not permissible in Philadelphia. I encourage Philadelphians to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and to show them that we are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”
Area Muslims from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA’s Philadelphia mosque joined local Jews to help clean up the cemetery.
“They wanted to divide us. We united even more,” tweeted Kashif Chaudhry, a physician and Muslim activist.
— Kashif N Chaudhry (@KashifMD) February 27, 2017
“This is America,” read more than one response.
“This Jewish girl from Philly thanks Muslim community of Philly 4 standing w/us,” read another.
A candlelight vigil to support the Jewish community was held on Sunday night.
The national offices of the Anti-Defamation League in New York received a bomb threat from an anonymous caller.
New York City Patch reported that the threat was called into ADL’s Manhattan headquarters at about 11:08 a.m. Wednesday, according to police. Neither the report nor the ADL said whether the building was evacuated.
Three days earlier, 11 Jewish community centers across the country were evacuated after bomb threats were called in — the fourth wave of such threats in five weeks. The threats turned out to be hoaxes but forced the evacuation of many buildings.
Two days ago, up to 200 headstones were overturned at a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery.
“While there is no information at this time to indicate that this is more than a threat, we are taking it very seriously,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We are working with law enforcement officials to determine if it is connected to similar threats against Jewish institutions across the country.
“This is not the first time that ADL has been targeted, and it will not deter us in our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and hate against people of all races and religions.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) February 22, 2017
He hates it, he really hates it. Now what’s he going to do about it?
President Donald Trump on Tuesday culminated three weeks of missed opportunities to condemn anti-Semitism and doubling down on missed opportunities to condemn anti-Semitism with a statement unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump said Tuesday after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Message back from a Jewish community longing to hear these words: Great. Now how do you plan on dealing with the problem?
“Glad @POTUS stated #antisemitism is horrible,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, said on Twitter, using the acronym for president of the United States. “Now need @whitehouse to share plans on how to ‘stop’ it. ADL ready to help.”
Greenblatt’s “whaddya got” posture pervaded the organized Jewish community.
David Harris, the American Jewish Committee CEO, explained why Jewish groups that might otherwise have welcomed a simple statement of intent to combat anti-Semitism were sounding a more skeptical tone.
“To date, the administration’s response has been disappointing, to say the least,” Harris said in an email to JTA.
“We’ve only just reached the stage today — thankfully, if belatedly — of hearing President Trump acknowledge the issue and call it by its rightful name — anti-Semitism,” he said.
“For reasons that escape me, until now it’s been about generic words like ‘hatred’ and ‘intolerance,’ or about the President defending himself against non-existent charges that he’s an anti-Semite. It’s elementary: to combat a problem you first have to define it, and the definition of this particular problem is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Then you need a robust plan of action. Let’s hope it will be forthcoming — and soon.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has been supportive of Trump, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to establish a task force to track down the perpetrator of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, and said Trump must “outline his Administration’s plan to combat surging anti-Semitism.”
Of the major groups who commented, the Orthodox Union seemed the most inclined to declare “case closed.”
“We appreciate that President Trump spoke directly to this matter. The words of a President of the United States carry great weight and it is important that Mr. Trump addressed the American Jewish community and all our fellow Americans at this time,” the O.U. said in a statement about Trump and the bomb threats. “We appreciate that the FBI and Department of Justice are investigating these incidents and the ‘possible civil rights violations’ they entail. We also appreciate the work of the Department of Homeland Security that supports the safety of our Jewish community institutions.”
The Jewish community has been grappling with how the new president deals with anti-Semitism since Jan. 27, when the White House marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a statement that noted “victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” but did not mention the Jews.
What at first seemed like an oversight soon calcified into suspicion that it was part of a worldview, as White House officials doubled down on the omission, condescending to explain to their critics that one must be inclusive in marking an event that uniquely targeted Jews for elimination.
Officials calling critics of the statement “asinine” and “pathetic” didn’t help, nor did the revelation that a bid by the State Department to mention Jews in a statement was rebuffed by the White House.
Fueling suspicion that there was more to the omissions than clumsy oversight was the presence on Trump’s staff of top advisers like Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka, who emerged from a political culture of European-style nationalism that rejects what it terms “identity politics” and argues that minority complaints about discrimination are overstated.
The White House visit last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented an opportunity to make amends, and at first it seemed Trump was game.
“The State of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression,” Trump said in prepared remarks at a joint Feb. 15 news conference with Netanyahu. “I can think of no other state that’s gone through what they’ve gone — and of survival in the face of genocide. We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.”
So there it was: “genocide” and “Jewish people” adjacent. All was good.
For about 20 minutes.
An Israeli reporter asked Trump about the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, and whether the president believed it had anything to do with Trump’s rhetoric.
Trump replied by noting the breadth of his Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton and a statement expressing love for his Jewish daughter, Ivanka; her husband, Jared Kushner, and their grandchildren.
It became weirder the next day at a news conference when a friendly reporter, Jake Turx from the haredi Orthodox Ami magazine, reassured Trump that no one in his community thought the president was an anti-Semite.
Turx proceeded to ask what Trump was planning to do about the waves of bomb threats against Jewish community centers that have severely disrupted Jewish life in North America.
Trump would not allow Turx to complete his question and launched a broadside against the baffled reporter and anyone else who suggested that he was anti-Semitic. Trump called Turx “a liar” and said he hated the question.
What turned Trump and led to his statement Tuesday morning?
His spokesman, Sean Spicer, would not say, except that Trump thought a tour of the African-American museum was an appropriate occasion to expound against hate and discrimination. Trump’s remarks were prepared.
Two precipitating factors may have been the fourth wave of bomb threats on Monday against JCCs, coupled with massive vandalism at a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery. The White House may have wanted to head off a new round of criticism that it was ignoring anti-Semitism, especially as Jewish groups were heading to Twitter with impatient calls for a strong denunciation from the president.
Another factor may have been Ivanka. Whereas the press office’s initial statement Monday night on the JCC threats again omitted any mention of Jews, Ivanka Trump followed it up with a tweet that at least alluded to Jews, adding to her call for religious tolerance the hashtag “JCC.”
Trump’s erstwhile targets also sensed an opportunity to hit back: Clinton, who infrequently pronounces on issues of the day – and has been oblique when she does pronounce – directly challenged Trump on Twitter to speak out. Muslim groups, targeted by Trump’s rhetoric, raised funds for a reward for the perpetrator of the threat and to repair the toppled headstones at the cemetery.
Calls by Jewish groups for actual plans, and not statements, were not the only sign that Trump’s remarks were unlikely to allay tensions.
Spicer opened his briefing with reporters on Tuesday by repeating Trump’s words, and delivering an impassioned plea for Americans to visit the African-American museum and its National Mall companion, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He then turned combative.
“’Is he going to denounce this one, is he going to denounce this one?’” he asked, mocking reporters. “At some point the question is asked and answered!”
(Spicer also responded to the U.S.-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, which issued a statement mocking Trump’s statement as a “pathetic asterisk of condescension.” He said of the group: “I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area. And I think that hopefully as time continues to go by they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.”)
Trump’s Democratic critics weren’t letting go either. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., running for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, peppered his Twitter feed with follow-up questions for Trump.
“Why has it taken @realDonaldTrump so long to even say the word ‘anti-Semitism?’” Ellison wondered. “Perhaps it has something to do with placating his base?”
Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., whose bid earlier this month to force a vote on his resolution emphasizing that the Holocaust targeted the Jews was blocked by Republicans, said Trump needed to be more consistent in his condemnations.
“Trump’s statement is long overdue and doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what needs to be done,” he said in a statement.
The Israeli parliament passed a bill that would retroactively legalize some West Bank settlements built on private Palestinian land.
Knesset lawmakers voted 60-52 in favor of the measure late Monday to legalize some 4,000 settler homes.
The law, which prevents the government from demolishing the homes, comes less than a week after police forcibly evacuated the Amona outpost. It represents the first time the government has tried to implement Israeli law in Area C, part of the West Bank that is under Israeli civilian and military rule, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Knesset member Shuli Muallem-Refaeli of the pro-settler Jewish Home party said Monday that the bill was “dedicated to the brave people of Amona who were forced to go through what no Jewish family will have to again,” The Times of Israel reported.
The bill has drawn sharp condemnation. Leaders of the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid, the second and fourth largest parties in the Knesset, respectively, both warned against its passage.
Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has said the bill violates local and international law and would likely be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present for the vote, as his scheduled return from a trip to the United Kingdom was delayed.
Following a Monday meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Netanyahu denied he had sought to delay the vote after Feb. 15, when he is set to meet with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., Haaretz reported.
“I never said that I want to delay the vote on this law,” Netanyahu said. “I said that I will act according to our national interest. That requires that we do not surprise our friends and keep them updated – and the American administration has been updated. This process was important for me because we are trying to act this way, especially with very close friends.”
On Thursday, Trump in his first statement on Israeli settlements since taking office said construction of new settlements “may not be helpful” in reaching a peace agreement, though he denied that existing settlements are impediments to a deal.
The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, which have traditionally been hesitant to weigh in on Israeli domestic issues, both criticized the measure on Monday.
ADL leaders said it would harm Israel’s image abroad and lead to legal repercussions.
“[I]t is imperative that the Knesset recognizes that passing this law will be harmful to Israel’s image internationally and could undermine future efforts to achieving a two-state solution,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director.
The director of ADL’s Israel office, Carole Nuriel, added that the measure “may also trigger severe international legal repercussions.”
AJC said it was “deeply disappointed” about the bill’s passage and called on the Supreme Court to “reverse this misguided legislation.”
“The controversial Knesset action, ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with President Trump in Washington, is misguided and likely to prove counter-productive to Israel’s core national interests,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
B’Tselem, a watchdog monitoring human rights abuses in the settlements, slammed the bill.
“The law passed by the Knesset today proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land,” the group said in a statement. “Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace for the state and its legislature.”
Peace Now, a left-leaning group promoting the two-state solution, also criticized passage.
“By passing this law, Netanyahu makes theft an official Israeli policy and stains the Israeli law books,” the group said in a statement. “By giving a green light to settlers to build illegally on private Palestinian land, the legalization law is another step towards annexation and away from a two state solution.”
This story originally appeared on “>interview with Jewish Insider on the eve of the election, Friedman referred to leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “morons” for condemning Trump’s campaign rhetoric and commercials that were perceived as dog-whistles to his anti-Semitic supporters.
“People talk about dog-whistles and about Trump with dog-whistles,” Friedman said in a wide-ranging interview. “As soon as Jonathan Greenblatt accused Trump of somehow being anti-Semitic, what did we hear next? We heard this clown from Minnesota, [Senator] Al Franken, who should go back to his career as a comedian. (Franken
How is the Jewish community reacting so far to the election of Donald Trump?
At a recent public forum on the new political reality for American Jews, the panelists and their audience struck alternating notes of fear, anxiety, uncertainty — and a touch of hope.
On Dec. 13, more than 400 people gathered at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles for a Jewish Journal Crucial Conversations event titled “The New Reality: Jews in Trump’s America.”
The evening’s healthy attendance, said IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous, one of the panelists, “reflects a really desperate hunger in the community to connect in what I hope will be a very respectful way about what the future might hold.”
The conversation was, by turns, surprising, hopeful and deeply uneasy, as when Brous declared the country to be in a state of “moral crisis.”
Joining the progressive rabbi onstage were Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Jonathan Greenblatt; Rabbi Ari Segal, Shalhevet head of school; and Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll series and a former John McCain presidential campaign staffer. Jewish Journal senior writer Danielle Berrin moderated the conversation, which was co-sponsored by the ADL and the Shalhevet Institute.
Greenblatt kicked off the panel by sounding a rare hopeful note about Trump, of whom he has been a frequent critic.
“The notion of having Jewish children who are shomer Shabbos in the first family is pretty remarkable,” he said.
Having Jewish kin doesn’t give the president-elect a pass on hateful speech or action, Greenblatt said. However, “Those who say he doesn’t understand [Jews] and has no connection to us are wrong,” he explained later in the evening. “He does. That doesn’t, again, give him a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Brous dismissed the significance of Trump’s Jewish family.
“Forgive me for not being too reassured by the presence of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. … I’m sorry but I don’t think she’s going to be our Queen Esther in this case,” she said, referring to Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and daughter, and the heroine of the Purim story.
Berrin called on the ADL’s Greenblatt to defend himself from accusations that he had taken the century-old civil rights watchdog in a partisan direction.
“I’m an easy target for those types of accusations, because I worked in the Obama administration, full disclosure, 3 1/2 years,” he said. “Full disclosure: I worked for the Clinton administration.”
But, he added, “No one accused me of being partisan when I came out against the Iran deal, much to the umbrage of my former colleagues in the White House.”
Much of the evening was spent grappling with the fact that nearly half of Americans who voted — and as many as a third of Jewish voters — chose a candidate who, to many in the audience, is synonymous with racial hatred and bigotry.
Berrin asked panelists to speculate, for instance, on why Orthodox Jews favored Trump.
“They saw President-elect Trump as the religious liberty candidate — the candidate who was going to say slow down for a second” on questions of progressive America’s moral standards, Segal said.
He added that Trump’s perceived favorability on Israel helped attract Orthodox voters.
But it was Schnur who provided the evening’s most comprehensive psychological profile of Trump voters: “The overwhelming majority of the people who voted for Donald Trump are not haters. They’re frightened.”
Brous agreed that not all Trump voters were bigots or anti-Semites. However, she said, “there was a certain amount of willful blindness toward those dog whistles and those explicit statements that were bigoted, anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic in order to support a candidate whose fiscal policies you might have preferred or whose Israel approach you might have preferred. And I think that is a moral crisis for our country.”
Berrin challenged her, asking, “Are you saying that 30 percent of the Jewish community was exercising willful blindness and lacks decency?”
Brous doubled down. “It’s not only 30 percent of the Jewish community. It’s 47 percent of the country,” she said.
Brous ended on a hopeful note, urging the audience to engage in the political process and not be despondent. Segal pressed for continued civil dialogue.
“This is a very painful election for a lot of people,” he said, adding, “We need to be careful not to fall into our echo chamber, which is what got us here in the first place.”
Watch the full event here:
When Jonathan Greenblatt took the top job at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in July 2015, Donald Trump was an outside candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and a favorite punch line of TV pundits.
Today, Trump is weeks away from the world’s most powerful office, and the ADL’s frequent criticism of the reality-TV-star-turned-leader-of-the-free-world has become arguably the defining aspect of Greenblatt’s freshman year.
Even in a more normal year, Greenblatt, a nontraditional choice for the job, would have had his hands full stepping in for Abraham Foxman, his predecessor as ADL national director.
“I’m learning as I go,” Greenblatt told the Journal in a phone interview last month. “I don’t have the long history that my predecessor had. He worked in this organization for 50 years. Many of my peers, if you look at counterpart organizations, have also worked there for decades. Not me.”
Greenblatt’s early days at the helm of the 103-year-old civil rights watchdog have not been easy ones. The unexpected twists of the recent election season turned the young leader’s first year into a test not only for him, but also for the ADL and the Jewish establishment more broadly.
EVENT: Hear Jonathan Greenblatt speak Dec. 13 at the Journal’s
Crucial Conversation, “The New Reality: Jews in Trump’s America.” RSVP here.
The ADL’s selection of Greenblatt in late 2014 was seen as a broadening of its reach, enabling it to connect with young people who grew up in a world where anti-Semitism seemed a less pressing problem than other forms of ethnic and racial hatred. Unlike Foxman, Greenblatt wasn’t a longtime operator in the Jewish world.
The 46-year-old was born and raised in New England and earned his master’s in business administration at Northwestern University before moving to Los Angeles. There, in 2001, he married Marjan Keypour, then associate director of the ADL for the Pacific Southwest Region. The next year, he co-founded Ethos Water, a bottled water line that donates part of its profits to clean water programs in the developing world. Ethos pioneered a model later followed by brands such as Toms Shoes and Warby Parker, linking consumption to a cause. In 2005, Starbucks purchased Ethos for $8 million.
Greenblatt and Keypour put began to put down roots in Los Angeles, preparing to raise their children there.
“I felt pretty blessed to be there, my kids were happy,” he said.
Then, in 2011, President Barack Obama selected him to be the director the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and he took the opportunity.
“The president basically said to me, ‘I’ve got this office, it’s too much like a think tank. I want somebody who’s run businesses to run it,’ ” he recalled.
Greenblatt’s background made him an unusual choice for ADL director; his ties to the White House have been used to paint him as a partisan actor, a charge he dismisses. Though he attends a Conservative synagogue and keeps a kosher home on Long Island, and served on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, he didn’t have the long resume in the Jewish establishment many expected of a potential ADL chief.
In any case, he certainly wasn’t another Foxman, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor long seen as a top authority on Jew hatred in media and politics.
“They were looking for a guy who would energize young Jews broadly against hatred and for many of the causes that [Greenblatt] endorsed earlier,” said Jonathan Sarna, a history professor at Brandeis University who studies the American Jewish community. “And then, irony of ironies, anti-Semitism seems to be roaring back and his role has shifted.”
The truism that Donald Trump’s election changed everything about American politics is more apt for Greenblatt than most people.
If he had hoped for a honeymoon period of waiting and watching in his new role, those hopes were dashed when Trump descended the gilded escalator in Trump Tower and kicked off his run for the presidency by pronouncing that rapists and criminals were pouring over the border with Mexico.
“It is time for Trump to stop spreading misinformation and hatred against immigrants, legal and undocumented,” Foxman said in a statement shortly after Trump’s presidential announcement, and just weeks before handing the reins over to Greenblatt.
Foxman’s statement set the tone for the coming election. But as Trump moved from an outside candidate to Republican nominee, Greenblatt doubled down.
Soon, under Greenblatt’s leadership, the ADL became the loudest of the nonpartisan Jewish organizations criticizing Trump. When Jewish journalists faced harassment by Twitter trolls using Nazi imagery, the ADL was among the only Jewish organizations to point out that these trolls seemed energized by and aligned with Trump. Within a week of the election, it slammed the Trump campaign for a television ad it said evoked anti-Semitic imagery.
Greenblatt’s outspokenness put him in something of an awkward position in a community where, after all, almost a third of Jews who voted cast a ballot for Trump. After Trump clinched an Electoral College victory on Nov. 8, Greenblatt’s position became even more prickly.
Although that day was a sobering one for many in the Jewish community, it can be seen as a turning point for Greenblatt and the ADL.
“They’re certainly not going to be at the very top of the list of people to be invited to the White House,” said Alvin H. Rosenfeld, a professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University and a widely recognized expert on historical anti-Semitism. “On the other hand, politics tends to work pragmatically after a certain point.”
It remains to be seen whether the ADL’s relationship with the Trump White House is permanently soured. But in any case, it now must balance criticism of the next president with its commitment to working with government agencies at all levels (nationally, it trains more police officers in reacting to hate crimes than any other organization).
Greenblatt has made it clear that he won’t refrain from criticizing Trump now that he’s won the election. Less than a week after Election Day, he released a statement opposing the appointment of Steve Bannon, formerly the CEO of Breitbart News, as White House chief strategist and senior adviser, citing Breitbart as “the premier website of the alt-right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.”
The blowback was immediate. Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who’d clashed publicly with Greenblatt in August, released a statement urging the ADL to “withdraw and apologize for their inappropriate character assassination of Mr. Bannon.”
Some professional observers of the organized Jewish community wondered if Greenblatt had jumped the gun. Sarna said he was surprised the ADL chose to criticize Bannon without first seeking a meeting with him. Still, he saw it is an understandable choice.
“You’re afraid that you’re going to lose your brand unless you speak out at a certain moment,” Sarna said. “But the risk is there’s a penalty for speaking out too early and without all the information.”
Rosenfeld was less ambivalent: “To denounce [Trump] and his people right from the get-go is not in the interest of the American Jewish community,” he said. “Following Abe Foxman is bound to be difficult, but [Greenblatt] needs to take his time and think carefully about what he’s saying.”
Rosenfeld said he looks to David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), as a model of how to combat anti-Semitism without overextending political capital.
Harris, in an interview with the Jewish Broadcasting Service shortly after the election, urged patience in the wake of Trump’s upset victory, saying “Let’s take a deep breath.”
As for Bannon’s appointment, Harris said, “There may be many issues to worry about or to wonder about. This is not near the top of my list.”
By Greenblatt’s telling, his decision to come out against Bannon was a natural one.
“I don’t make my decisions based on ‘Hmm, let’s make a tradeoff here. What works and doesn’t work?’ ” he said. “I focus on not what feels good but rather, when we see hate, how do we deal with it? And we know under Steve Bannon’s leadership, it was his stated attempt and then his successful goal to position Breitbart as the platform for the alt-right.”
Nonetheless, he said, the ADL is already in touch with Trump’s transition team to see how they can work together.
“We’re engaging with them,” he said.
He declined to provide specifics or elaborate further. But he maintained the ADL can work with the administration while acting as a watchdog when its rhetoric veers into intolerance or bigotry.
He pointed to immigration, for instance, as a place where the ADL could prove a nuanced and responsible partner for Trump.
“There’s good reason to be very careful and to use very rigorous screening to make sure that, in particular, refugees fleeing the catastrophe that is Syria, the Syrian civil war, [are] very carefully vetted,” he said. “We are not naïve about that. It’s really important, extremely important. It’s urgent. But at the same time, we think there are opportunities to be as humane as we always have been, as the Statue of Liberty required of us as Americans.”
The question remains whether the seemingly thin-skinned Trump will consent to work with his loudest critic within the Jewish mainstream establishment.
“There is a price to be paid for too many attacks on the president of the United States,” said Steven M. Cohen, a professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
“There hasn’t been a time in American history where liberal values were seemingly as challenged as they are right now in 20th-century history,” he went on. “It’s not that the ADL’s actions are unprecedented. It’s that the context is unprecedented.”
Sarna agreed that the ADL’s actions during the election constitute a historical watershed that future generations of Jewish leaders will look back on for insight. He framed the choice facing Greenblatt during the election as “silence, outrage, instruction or obstruction.”
“Those are always your choices,” he said. “The ADL elected to go with outrage. Some other organizations, I think, decided that maybe silence was the right way to go. … The problem with outrage is that you can’t be outraged all the time. You only have a certain capital of outrage.
“It’s hard being a Jewish leader,” he added. “I don’t envy Mr. Greenblatt.”
Greenblatt said he never saw much of a choice in the way he approached the situation, but he doesn’t blame other Jewish organizations, like the AJC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and The Jewish Federations of North America for taking a less confrontational approach: “I just don’t think that way,” he said.
“I said what I said and we did what we did because it was consistent with ADL’s historic role,” he told the Journal. “As I said, for us it was a matter of our mission. Others need to do what they need to do. I don’t begrudge them.”
But there are Jewish leaders and organizations that have felt the need to question Greenblatt’s leadership.
“It seems to me at critical times [in the] course of this campaign, a pattern emerged that the ADL put their thumb on the scale in a way that hadn’t been done by Greenblatt’s predecessor,” Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), told reporters on a conference call the day after the election.
By attacking Trump, Brooks said, “The ADL has put itself in a potentially compromising position going forward.”
Greenblatt rejects the criticism that the ADL singled out Trump.
“We did not call out the Trump campaign per se,” he said. “What we did was call out particular ideas when we found them to be problematic.”
He pointed out that the ADL criticized Republican candidates Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders when they made comments that were untoward or inflammatory. When Trump was criticized for making comments to the RJC in December 2015 that some perceived as anti-Semitic (“I’m a negotiator like you folks,” the candidate said), Greenblatt came to his defense: “We do not believe that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes,” Greenblatt said in a statement at the time.
In the weeks since the election, Greenblatt proved once again that he’s willing to go after Democrats and to change his position when new information arises.
Early in Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison’s bid to become chair of the Democratic National Committee, Greenblatt released a statement where he raised concerns about his record on Israel, but also described him as “a man of good character” and “an important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism.” Yet after a recording came to light of Ellison questioning the United States’ relationship with Israel, Greenblatt changed course in a Dec. 1 statement, calling the remarks “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
To the idea that he singled out Trump for censure, Greenblatt told the Journal, “It doesn’t map to the facts.” Instead, he said, the ADL spoke up each time somebody in the national spotlight ran afoul of its core values of equality, pluralism and tolerance.
“We speak out, not because someone is of a particular political persuasion, but because when ideas are in violation of those core American values, that’s when we think — that’s when the ADL has a role to play,” he said.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats hate and anti-Semitism, found himself in a similar position to Greenblatt during the election, and he echoed the need to pick moments and battles carefully.
“This is not going to be an easy road to go down,” Cooper said. “We have to engage with the people with the keys to the car.”
Greenblatt said his organization wants to collaborate positively with the new administration whenever possible, without yielding any ground on ADL’s commitment to its core mission.
“We’re going to hold them relentlessly accountable to the issues we care about,” he said, “and do what we can to make sure we continue to be a fierce advocate.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Thursday attacked Donald Trump for turning a blind eye on his white nationalist and anti-Semitic supporters and for spreading some of their messages on social media.
“This is someone who retweets white supremacists online,” Clinton charged in a campaign speech in Nevada. “His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist website.”
Clinton also brought up Trump’s tepid rejection of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and late condemnation under mounting pressure, to make a point that he’s been too slow in condemning anti-Semitism in order to appeal to the alt-right (Alternative Right) movement.
“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia,” Clinton said. “He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties… Of course, there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”
“He says he wants to ‘Make America great again,’ but his real message remains ‘Make America hate again,'” she added.
Trump preempted the speech by “>compared Trump’s campaign to George Wallace’s run for president in the 1960′s as a similar example of “racism being inserted into the public conversation in a presidential election.”
“I’m not saying that Donald Trump is a racist or anti-Semite but the racists and anti-Semites have come out of the woodwork during this political season to support him,” Greenblatt told CNN in June.
Trump released a laconic statement in May, saying, “Anti-Semitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided.” He followed up with an unequivocal rejection of bigotry and hate in recent campaign appearances.
For more than a century, the Anti-Defamation League has been known as a group that combats anti-Semitism. But one year after taking the group’s helm, Jonathan Greenblatt wants it to focus on more than just the Jews.
Greenblatt’s predecessor as ADL national director, Abraham Foxman, became known during his decades at ADL’s helm as an arbiter of what was and was not anti-Semitic, as well as a pro-Israel advocate who did not hesitate to criticize Jewish groups he saw as damaging Israel. Upon his retirement in July 2015, some called him “The Jewish Pope.”
But to woo millennials to the ADL, Greenblatt wants to stress the group’s work among other minority communities, which has long been a part of its agenda. This emphasis comes as the Jewish community’s relations with minority groups has become strained by anti-Israel sentiment among many left-wing activists. Just this week, the main movement opposing police violence against black communities, Black Lives Matter, released a platform accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians.
While the ADL focuses on many issues Black Lives Matter addresses, it has not collaborated with Black Lives Matter, and called the genocide accusation “repellent and completely inaccurate” in a blog post on Medium Thursday.
As part of its renewed outspokenness on issues beyond those directly impacting Jews, the ADL has emerged in the past year as the only legacy Jewish organization to consistently criticize Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by name when he makes controversial statements about Mexicans, Muslims or other groups. And Greenblatt wants the ADL to take a leading role in addressing mass incarceration and police violence in black communities.
“By delivering great programs and making an impact in the communities that we serve, by speaking up and using our voice to call out intolerance in any form, I think those things, I hope, will appeal to younger people,” Greenblatt said in an interview in his Manhattan office Wednesday. “This is one of those institutions with the scale and the scope where you really, truly can make a dent in the universe.”
One issue the ADL is focusing on: using its bonds with both police and anti-racism activists to help stem the string of killings by police in black communities, as well as killings of police, and address mass incarceration. Along with educating against racism across the country, the ADL runs seminars for police officers on counterterrorism and combating violent extremists.
“We’ve been working around a civil rights agenda to help support marginalized communities,” Greenblatt said. “We believe black lives matter in the lowercase letters. We believe it’s fundamental to a 21st century civil rights agenda.”
But what about uppercase Black Lives Matter’s harsh rhetoric on Israel?
“These points are wrong on the facts and offensive in tone,” Greenblatt wrote. “Importantly, for ADL and many in the Jewish community, such false characterizations and misguided calls to action distract us from the task of addressing other, critically-important justice and equality priorities.”
The ADL has already fielded criticism from within the Jewish community due to its work against police violence. The Zionist Organization of America, a right-wing group that has criticized the ADL on a range of issues for two decades, has accused the ADL of promoting Black Lives Matter despite its anti-Israel statements.
But to Greenblatt, 45, widening the ADL’s reach is more important than an intra-Jewish flame war. In 2003 he co-founded Ethos Water, a bottled water company that funds clean water access in developing countries. He also founded All for Good, an open-source volunteering platform, and GOOD Magazine. Before taking the ADL job, Greenblatt served as director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House.
“We’re a civil rights organization. The ZOA is not,” he said. “We’re an organization focused on combating anti-Semitism and bigotry. The ZOA is not. They’ve been doing this [criticizing us] for over 20 years so you can draw your own conclusions.”
The ADL’s highest profile issue this year, however, has probably been its criticism of Trump. Greenblatt has criticized Trump’s statements against Muslims and Mexicans, but sounded most concerned that Trump’s fellow travelers are sparking anti-Semitism’s return to American political discourse. He called attacks in social media on Jewish journalists “unprecedented,” and said Trump is not doing enough to disavow his anti-Semitic supporters.
The ADL, says Greenblatt, has reached out to the campaign directly several times.
“We think there have been opportunities when he could be doing a lot more to speak forcefully about why anti-Semitism and bigotry has no place in a political campaign,” Greenblatt told JTA. “What we can definitely say with a high degree of certainty is that we’ve seen a mainstreaming of intolerance, and many of the people who are bringing this into the public conversation are self-identified white nationalists and are trafficking in some of the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes.”
Other legacy Jewish organizations have criticized Trump’s controversial remarks against minorities, but have been more circumspect about calling him out directly. An August 3 statement from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said the group was “dismayed at presidential candidates’ statements,” but didn’t say which candidates or which statements.
The ADL has no such qualms. Since Trump launched his campaign, the ADL has released at least a dozen statements criticizing him and urging him to distance himself from his racist supporters, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. In March, due to what Greenblatt called Trump’s “penchant to slander minorities, slur refugees, dismiss First Amendment protections and cheer on violence,” the group redirected $56,000 in past donations from Trump to its anti-racism and anti-bullying programs.
This is not a first for the group. Greenblatt said the ADL criticized segregationist George Wallace’s 1968 campaign. This year, the group has also criticized Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ exaggerating the death toll in the 2014 Gaza war, and Republican candidate Mike Huckabee’s equating President Barack Obama to a Nazi. But Trump, more than anyone, has been the target of the ADL’s political statements.
“Over the years, if you look at the statements we’ve made, including this election, they’re very even-handed,” Greenblatt said. “We spoke out about these things because, again, bigotry in all forms, whether it’s directed against Latinos or immigrants or Muslims or refugees, we find it reprehensible.”
Even with the stirrings of white supremacism around Trump, Greenblatt stressed that overall, anti-Semitism in America is at historic lows. The group recorded 941 total anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2015, a significant decline from only a decade ago: 2006 saw more than 1,500 incidents of anti-Semitism.
“American Jews have assimilated remarkably well,” he said. “We have tremendous privilege in this country. Not just one but two presidential candidates have grandchildren with a Jewish parent. That’s really a pretty remarkable thing. Across the board, in industry, in academia, in entertainment, let alone in politics, we’ve achieved at the highest levels.”
Donald Trump could put the “Star of David” tweet to rest if he would apologize and acknowledge that the perceived offense caused harm, ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on Tuesday.
“He should just admit the offense [and] apologize,” Greenblatt said in an interview on “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon late Tuesday. “I think this would satisfy all of the public – on the right and the left, Democrats and Republicans. Just say, ‘White supremacists, extreme right, you have no place in my campaign. Hate has no place in the public square, and you have nothing to do with making America great again.’”
According to Greenblatt, if the presumptive Republican presidential campaign would “clearly and unequivocally” disavow the support from David Duke, the KKK and white supremacist groups, “this issue would be over.”
Professor Alan Dershowitz, also appearing on the program, predicted the controversy would hurt Trump’s support among Jewish voters. “I already have heard from four or five Jewish voters who were thinking of voting for him, Republicans, who said say this crossed the line,” Dershowitz, a Hillary Clinton supporter, said. “I think it will hurt him, but it will help him with people on the extreme, extreme neo-nazi right.”
Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his controversial “Star of David” tweet, insisting the “sick” media stirred it up to cover up for Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview on Saturday.
“It was a star. A star. Like, a star,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday. “It’s a star! Have you all seen this? It’s a star. My boy comes home from school, Baron, he draws stars all over the place, I never said, ‘Oh, that’s the Star of David, Baron, don’t!’ And it actually looks like a sheriff’s star, but I don’t know.”
In a lengthy rant, Trump blamed the media of “racially profiling.”
“Behind it, it had money. ‘Oh but there’s money behind it,’” Trump said, imitating what he said was a report on CNN. “So actually, they’re racially profiling. They’re profiling, not us, because why are they bringing this up?”
“To me it was just a star,” Trump continued. “But when I really looked at it, it looked like a sheriff star.”
Trump went on to defend his social media director, Dan Scavino, and pointed to his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and their three children to prove he’s not anti-Jewish. “Dan is a really wonderful guy. I didn’t get angry at him,” he said. “I said, ‘Dan, that’s a star! Don’t worry about it.’”
Donald Trump’s candidacy and his rhetoric on the campaign trail has presumably led to the uptick in racism and anti-Semitism, ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on Monday.
“I’m not saying that Donald Trump is a racist or anti-Semite but the racists and anti-Semites have come out of the woodwork during this political season to support him,” Greenblatt told CNN’s Deborah Feyerick in an interview broadcast on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
“This is not normal,” the Anti-defamation League’s chief said, pointing to George Wallace’s run for president in the 1960′s as a similar example of “racism being inserted into the public conversation in a presidential election.”