Mugged by reality, will the Classic ADL re-emerge?

A few weeks ago, I joined other critics of ADL in prejudging Jonathan Greenblatt, the organization’s pick to succeed its current head, Abe Foxman. I may have spoken too soon. In an interview, I noted that Greenblatt’s profile as a progressive Democrat, especially one who holds a position in the Obama Administration, signaled that ADL would continue, even double down, on what many of us have been calling a disastrously failed policy of abandoning Jewish interests in favor of some vague universalism.

As the left/Muslim alliance is driving the Jews out of Europe, and is now surging on our campuses, American Jewry’s most powerful defense agency has no strategy to deal with these real threats. Instead, ADL advocates for the Democratic Party’s agenda items – women’s and gay rights, immigration, voter ID laws, etc. ADL even fights “Islamophobia,” a bogus concept whose intent and effect is to block any criticism of Islamic culture, behavior or belief. Appointing a progressive like Greenblatt, I thought, would ensure that ADL’s vast resources will continue to be diverted away from real efforts to protect Jewish interests and Jewish lives.

But that was before the pogrom at Har Nof.

After the first ISIS beheading of an American, Daniel Pipes correctly noted that all the efforts of eloquent, persuasive writers and public intellectuals warning about radical Islam and the radical left over three decades, didn’t amount to much compared to the sight of blood curdling butchery. Events, more than arguments and logic, work to shatter hope-based fantasies. How simple, how frustrating, how true.

Before the ISIS beheadings and the mass execution clips, before reports of sex slave markets of Yazidi girls, before the beheading of a woman in Oklahoma by a convert to Islam, before the jihadi hatchet attack on the NY cops, it was rare to hear talk of “radical Islam” in American media (Fox News excluded). Yet how quickly the taboo has been lifted from that phrase. Today, one can talk about jihad and Islamism to explain why radicalized believers butcher innocent “infidels” – and not be automatically accused of committing thought-crimes.

And now comes the Israeli analog. The car-jihad that crushed the Jewish baby and killed the young woman, the knifing-jihad – plunging steel into the necks and backs of Jerusalemites, and now the horrific loss – by horrific means – of four dear, dear rabbis and a wonderful Druze cop in a prominent, beautiful shul, are having an effect similar to the ISIS beheadings. Like the boy who was too innocent to have been fooled, many more Jews see that the Emperor of PC ideology has no clothes. What’s left is the awful naked truth: They – a gathering herd of jihadists, everywhere — are going to try to kill us. Period.

Some of my wonderfully decent liberal friends now sound like they have been “mugged by reality.” Solid lefties, some in liberal organizations. I’m starting to believe that even a progressive like Jonathan Greenblatt can feel the winds of truth: Jews are under ideological and physical assault worldwide. We need a defense agency like ADL to focus its efforts on protecting us. An ADL leader who rises to the challenge will not have to worry about fundraising.

So what should an ADL, sobered by the emerging reality, shedding some of its progressive illusions, now do? Here’s my short list:

  1. Learn about the existential threat the community faces from Islamism and Leftist anti-Zionism. For starters: read everything Robert Wistrich has been writing.
  2. Educate Jews about these threats.
  3. Educate the public at large.
  4. Form alliances with peoples who are victims and targets of jihad: Hindus, Middle East and African Christian, Arab democrats, gays, women, Sikhs, Yazidis and more.
  5. Expose the double standard of a “human rights” movement that pretends to care about humanity but ignores victims of non-Western oppressors.
  6. Campus: demand equal protection for Jewish students, pursue every legal means possible to counter fascist brown shirt organizations that intimidate, bully and attack Jews on campus.
  7. Investigate the insertion of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel curriculum in our public and private schools, K-12.
  8. Investigate the insertion of anti-Zionist programs in our Jewish seminaries, which produce Rabbis against Israel – all for the sake of an abstract moral-purity fantasy.
  9. Come clean about ADL’s awful detour into universalism and partisan politics. Do a mea culpa. (If they do 1-8, let’s give them a pass on this most painful point.)

Hope and Change. In the right circumstance, it’s not a bad concept.

About the Author
Charles Jacobs, currently President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has founded and co-founded human rights and pro-Jewish organizations. He co-founded the Boston office of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America; As co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, Charles helped redeem thousands of black slaves from jihadi raiders in Sudan for which he was granted the Boston Freedom Award by Coretta Scot King, MLK's widow. He co-founded The David Project to help Jewish students who were harassed and intimidated on campuses across America. Charles has been published in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and the Encyclopedia Brittanica.