ADL CEO: Anti-Semitism 'Isn't an Issue of Left, Right; It’s About Right and Wrong’

By Melanie Arter | October 29, 2018 | 11:44 AM EDT

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt (Screenshot)

( – In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said anti-Semitism isn’t an issue of right or left, but about “right and wrong.”

In the wake of Saturday’s deadly shooting massacre at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., Greenblatt was asked about Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan “and the tolerance that some people on the left still have for him.”


“No. Yeah. This isn't an issue of left, right. It's about right and wrong, and we should be able to speak truth to power whenever people in public life speak out with stereotypes and scapegoats that we know, as you were alluding to before, have been used for hundreds and thousands of years. not just to slander the Jewish people but to wound them and kill them,” Greenblatt said.

“So like you said at the top of the show, this was the single deadliest attack on the American Jewish community in our history, and it's incumbent upon us to stand up and to speak out and to say, ‘We will not accept this. Not for another minute,’” he said.

Greenblatt said that in addition to political rhetoric, social media is “amplifying and accelerating” anti-Semitism, and Silicon Valley should do something about it.

“Not only is the political environment contributing to this, social media is amplifying and accelerating it in shocking ways. And so Silicon Valley is a part of the problem and needs to be a part of the solution,” he said.



Greenblatt noted that there was an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017.

“At the ADL we've been tracking anti-Semitism for over 100 years. We look at anti-Semitic incident, and in 2017, Chuck, we saw a 57 percent surge of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence directed at the Jewish community across the country. It was the single-largest spike we have ever seen,” he said.

“And literally just last week we released a report because we also monitor anti-Semitism online. And we've seen a marked uptick in anti-Semitic harassment of political figures and other individuals simply based on their faith. So we are living in a moment where anti-Semitism is almost becoming normalized, and that should shock and move all of us to act,” he said.

Greenblatt said anti-Semitism never went away. In fact, he said his organization is seeing a “resurgence.”

“I don't know that it ever went away,” he said. “The ADL worked to fight it in the '40s and '50s and '60s, and today we are seeing this resurgence. I think there are a few factors.

“So number one, we are seeing an environment in which anti-Semitism has moved from the margins into the mainstream as political candidates and people in public life now literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists, and they think it's normal and permissible to talk about Jewish conspiracies, manipulating events or Jewish financiers somehow controlling activities, and that is awful,” Greenblatt said.

“And secondly, not only is the political environment contributing to this, social media is amplifying and accelerating it in shocking ways, and so Silicon Valley is a part of the problem and needs to be a part of the solution,” he added.

“I hear you on social media,” NBC’s Chuck Todd said. “What about in the political world. You talked about financiers, George Soros is a Democratic donor, and he frequently is always described -- his religion is always included in the description. Other billionaires, their religion isn't always included in their description when they contribute to candidates. What would you say to that?”

“Look, the attacks on George Soros are appalling, and the continued invocation of classic anti-Semitic themes. I mean, to see the way this man is mischaracterized online is just repulsive. Now, I don't agree with every donation he makes, but I also don't agree with every donation Sheldon Adelson makes, but you see it from the left and sometimes from the right,” Greenblatt said.

“And it is all incredibly troublesome. So I think whether you are, you know, an elected official, bring the Holocaust denier to the well of the House of Representatives for the State of the Union or you're a political candidate, again, invoking anti-Semitic myths about Jewish conspiracies, or frankly, you're a religious leader who calls Jews termites,” he said.


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