It is axiomatic to suggest that if there are three Jews in a room there is likely to be nine opinions – each one shaped by a view of reality. As a consequence, there are dozens of Jewish organizations representing every political opinion and judgment under the sun. However, on one matter there was usually convergence, the welfare of Jewish life and the state of Israel.
That consensus has been blown to smithereens by at least two organizations: J Street and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one relatively new in the Jewish organizational structure and one with a traditional Jewish pedigree.
J Street, has argued and continues to argue, that peace and stability in the Middle East can only be achieved through Israeli concessions. Overlooked in the J Street analysis – willy nilly – is the intransigence of the other side (The PLO and Hamas) that will not recognize the state of Israel and considers any concession only the starting point for the next negotiation.
While J Street represents a swath of left wing Jewish opinion, that is not its sole or even primary mission. According to Carinne Luck, Vice President for Campaigns, J Street is designed “to move American Jews” towards its position, i.e. to its left wing position. In fact, J Street is composed of field operatives, not constituency representatives. Like many of the organizations George Soros underwrites, J Street exists to influence opinion among Jewish leaders and among the Jewish political base generally.
The ADL has been an established Jewish organization for decades that stands against anti-semitic actions and speech across the globe. Recently the ADL has been criticized for devoting relatively little of its resources combating radical Islam’s threat to world Jewry. In fact, only 7.7 percent of its press releases issued over the past 15 years focused on Islamic extremism. By contrast, press releases condemning traditional sources of anti-semitism, such as Naziism and Christian theology totaled 37.8 percent and “social justice” issues that fall into ADL’s basket of liberal opinion account for 30.5 percent.
It is certainly worth asking why this disproportionate allocation of resources exists. The ADL tends to ignore the Islamic roots of terroism and the theological underpinning of Arab-Jew hatred found in the Koran. Recently the ADL joined with CAIR – the same organization indentified as a coconspirator in the Holy Land Foundation that gave financial assistance to Hamas – in opposing Florida legislation that attempted to place limits on shariah. Abe Foxman, ADL president, argued that the legislation was biased against Muslims and that his organization exists to fight against bias wherever it exists. Unfortunately Mr. Foxman did not make reference to the bias against Jews that characterizes CAIR behavior.
According to a recent report on the ADL only three of the 841 press releases in the category of the Middle East and Israel related to Islamic extremism. However, many of the ADL’s press releases on Israel concentrated on condemning “Jewish right wing extremism” and promoting left of center political causes. (For example, January ’97 “ADL condemns attack on Palestinians by an Israeli soldier;” March ’02: “ADL alarmed by reports of new Jewish terror group;” and November ’09: “ADL calls Israeli Settlement Freeze ‘Courageous and Unprecedented’.”) Eleven percent of the ADL’s press releases on Israel condemn Jewish right wing extremists.
While Foxman and others have said Islamic extremism is the biggest threat to Jews, its press releases and resource allocation express a different sentiment. Clearly studies of this kind are often incomplete and the lines of categorical demarcation fuzzy. Nonetheless, the profound difference in focus among these categories is revealing. Any dispassionate reader of the data is likely to ask why is the ADL largely overlooking the real threat to world Jewry.
At the risk of attributing political motives to specific action, it seems that in both cases, a liberal or left wing agenda trumps the welfare of the Jewish people. Both J Street and the ADL assume they are acting in the interests of the Jewish people, but in far too many instances this claim is mere cover for the expression of liberal ideas and attempts at propaganda.
Herbert Londonis president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book Decline and Revival in Higher Education (Transaction Books).
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