Todd L. Pittinsky

The ADL’s Apathetic Allies

Many Jewish-Americans have had a nagging feeling since October 7 that many of the people and institutions we thought were steadfast allies are not speaking up against the explosion of Jew hate across our country.

I feel that way. But feelings aren’t facts. So I went after some data to see whether or not it supported what I felt. First, I looked for recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Award winners. Second, I looked for what they have said or done about surging antisemitism.

Of six recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Award winners I found, all six spoke passionately against antisemitism—at the swanky celebration at which they accepted their award. But have they spoken up on the eruption of Jew hate since October 7?

Not a word that I could find from Apple CEO Tim Cook, winner of the ADL’s Courage Against Hate Award in 2018. Nor from Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, winner of the same award  in 2020. Nor from L’Oréal Group chairman Jean-Paul Agon, winner of the same award in 2021. Nor from interfaith activist, Yemeni refugee, and author Mohammed Al Samawior from five-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, who won the ADL’s Changemaker Award and Daniel Peral Award, respectively, that same year. The one exception was scholar and interfaith leader Imam Abdullah Antepli, winner of the Daniel Pearl Award in 2022.

All of which means what?

First, the ADL surely needs to raise the bar for selecting its awardees. Less celebrity, more substance.

Second, our proverbial glass may be no more than one-sixth full. Those who do not speak up from platforms of privilege today will be unlikely to do so later, when the cost of speaking up becomes greater and greater.

About the Author
Todd L. Pittinsky is a professor at Stony Brook University (SUNY). Prior, he was an Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he also served as Research Director for the Harvard Center for Public Leadership. Todd was a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center (2020-2022) and a Faculty Fellow of Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College (2018–2020). He has published in leading academic journals and has authored or co-authored general audience pieces in outlets including The Atlantic, the Boston Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, The Jerusalem Post, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Times, Phi Delta Kappan, Science and The Wall Street Journal. Todd’s most recent book is “Leaders Who Lust: Power, Money, Sex, Success, Legitimacy, Legacy” (with B. Kellerman, Cambridge University Press).
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