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ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt Denounces ‘Lingering Silence’ After Oct. 7

On Nov. 1, as the keynote speaker for an ADL gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Jonathan Greenblatt discussed the ongoing war in Israel and the ways in which it’s been received here at home.
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November 8, 2023
Approximately 700 guests turned out to the ADL gala at the Beverly Hilton. Photo by Jordan Strauss/Shutterstock

These past several weeks, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has appeared on news networks to discuss Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers in Israel. He’s also highlighted the Jewish State’s right to defend itself.

On Nov. 1, as the keynote speaker for an ADL gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, he discussed the ongoing war in Israel and the ways in which it’s been received here at home. He said there’s been much to be heartened about, including U.S. President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to retaliate against Hamas in Gaza, but the reaction — or silence — by some influential segments of society, including university leaders, entertainment professionals and progressive elected officials, is cause for alarm.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Shutterstock

“President Biden has been absolutely rock-solid in his support for Israel,” Greenblatt said, speaking from the stage at the Beverly Hilton ballroom. “From his words to his actions, including his historic visit to Israel while the missiles were falling and his literal embrace of the Jewish people in our time of need.

“But even as we try to cope, compounding this pain has been the loud, lingering silence from so many coordinators since the massacre … Where are the university presidents? Where are our community leaders? Where are the balanced journalists? Where’s the outrage?” Greenblatt said. 

The ADL leader denounced the “ineptitude of organizations and figures who normally clamor to speak out on every social justice issue, but somehow are speechless when it actually matters.” He specifically called out the Writers Guild of America, which took nearly three weeks to issue a statement addressing Hamas’ attack on Israel.

As for the pro-Palestinian protests that have taken place across the world, many of which have included overtly antisemitic rhetoric, Greenblatt said it was reminiscent of the 2017 “Jews will not replace us” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We are seeing Charlottesville-style mobs every single day, with swarms of frothing people, essentially screaming, ‘Zionists, we will replace you.’ This is intolerable.” – Jonathan Greenblatt

Only now, “We are seeing Charlottesville-style mobs every single day, with swarms of frothing people, essentially screaming, ‘Zionists, we will replace you,’” Greenblatt said. “This is intolerable.”

Additional speakers who appeared before the approximately 700 people attending the gala acknowledged the challenging moment facing Jewish students on college campuses, as groups including Students for Justice in Palestine openly show support for Hamas and as pro-Palestinian demonstrations leave Jewish students feeling unsafe on campuses. 

To the approximately 50 college students in attendance on Wednesday night, including those from CSUN and USC, ADL Regional Director Jeffrey Abrams said, “You are on the front lines right now.”

Not solely concerned with events unfolding in Israel, the evening honored longtime ADL leaders Suzanne and Harvey Prince, who received the Humanitarian award, and Stacey and Michael Garfinkel, who were named Distinguished Leadership recipients. The Princes have been active with the ADL, both locally and nationally, for more than for decades while the Garfinkels have served as ADL Los Angeles regional board members.

The event raised approximately $1.25 million for the ADL. Additionally, ADL leadership announced it had been awarded a $5 million grant by philanthropists Eric and Susan Smidt.

Accepting her award, Suzanne Prince spoke of ways systematic antisemitism has been eradicated over the years — gone are the days of Jewish quotas in universities. But antisemitic sentiments clearly remain, she said. “Changing the law is the easy part—changing attitudes is the hard part,” she said. “That’s why we need the ADL.”

Attendees included LAPD Board Commissioner President Erroll Southers, StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein, BHUSD School Board Member Mary Wells, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Magen Am President Rabbi Yossi Eilfort; Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles leadership; and Hillel 818 Executive Director Matt Baram. Vocalist Maki Mae performed.

The event was held as the ADL has reported a significant nationwide uptick in antisemitic incidents. According to the ADL, antisemitic incidents from Oct. 7-23, which include instances of harassment, vandalism and assault, are up nearly 400% from over the same period last year. The ADL reports 312 antisemitic incidents occurring during that period, compared to 64 incidents in 2022.

Among the world’s leading anti-hate organizations, the ADL is committed to combating antisemitism and all forms of hate and bigotry, with a network of chapters across the country. The ADL’s regional office serves Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern Counties.

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