(JTA) – Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt urged the organization’s leading activists to counter what he said was an “organized, concerted effort” to delegitimize the group. The 900-word email sent Nov. 30 was a bid to counter what has been at times a fierce assault on the venerable civil rights group for its criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and his transition. “Over the past year, certain columnists and elements of the U.S. Jewish community have engaged in a full-scale assault on ADL and its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt,” said the email to the group’s lay leadership. “We came back from Thanksgiving to find that an organized, concerted effort to delegitimize ADL was underway. These charges against ADL are a significant and deliberate misrepresentation of our positions and our actions.”
Greenblatt goes on to refute several myths circulating in the right-wing Jewish blogosphere and on social media, among them, that the ADL does not support Israel; that it no longer combats antisemitism; that it supports the movement to boycott Israel; and that Greenblatt is a Democratic operative.
Greenblatt, an entrepreneur who was a non-political Obama White House appointee charged with social innovation, noted that the group recently hosted a major conference in New York on antisemitism and called it ADL’s “number one concern.” ADL also vigorously opposes the BDS movement.
In one instance, Greenblatt fudges the record slightly: He decries as a myth the claim that the group attacked Stephen Bannon, Trump’s top strategic adviser, but not Keith Ellison, the Minnesota congressman vying to lead the Democratic National Committee. Greenblatt said the group had expressed “concerns” about each man – Bannon for his associations with the “alt-right,” which includes within its ranks white supremacists, and Ellison, for his strident criticism of Israel. In fact, the ADL outright opposed Bannon’s appointment, while it raised questions about Ellison’s candidacy.
Greenblatt named the Zionist Organization of America as a strident critic of Greenblatt and ADL. ZOA President Morton Klein said Greenbatt’s complaints were “nonsense.” “Painfully, ADL’s positions have endangered and harmed Israel and Jews,” he said, saying the ADL and Greenblatt “need to protect and defend our people – not shoot the messenger.”