Why is the ADL aligning itself with Al Sharpton?

Jonathan Greenblatt with Al Sharpton

As someone who has worked in media for the better part of the last decade, I’ve been quite disappointed at the way certain figures who have demonstrated themselves to be bigots with tremendous amounts of prejudice have been normalized. None have been as effective in their bids for normalization and acceptance by mainstream society, as the “Reverend” Al Sharpton. Besides for his maintenance of a considerable media presence on MSNBC and his hosting of his own program on the network, he is still routinely introduced on various programs as a “civil rights activist.” Indeed, the accolades continue being sent his way, even given his troubling background.

My public relations agency has represented a myriad of interests promoting minority communities. In fact, over the years we have represented a number of individuals who are significant donors to the Anti-Defamation League, the latest organization working together with Sharpton. Civil rights issues in the African American community are indeed serious; and they should be taken seriously by leaders of the Jewish community. Indeed, it is important for there to be a united front among those in other minority communities in calling out racism in any way it may manifest itself. It’s incumbent upon us as Jews to call out racism – and I’ve been personally heartened by the participation of members of the Jewish community in some of the peaceful demonstrations that have taken place.

But that does not and should not ever take place at the expense of promoting anti-Semites or bigots of any stripe. Indeed we are doing a disservice to the African American community by propping up someone like Al Sharpton by doing so. There are many decent and impressive civil rights activists within the African American community who deserve our support, and certainly deserve a platform. Al Sharpton is not one of them.

For those that don’t know, Al Sharpton has a long and storied history of Jew hatred, that has been well documented over the years. Sharpton played a central role in provoking the rioters in Crown Heights back in the summer of 1991. Riots that led to the death of Yankel Rosenbaum. “If the Jews want to get it  on, tell them to pin their Yarmulkas back and come over…,” said Sharpton, during that three day stretch of riots.

Sharpton never properly offered genuine remorse for this sort of rhetoric. And his actual participation and fomenting of violence in the form of these riots is something that the Jewish community can never forget. Sharpton’s list of anti-Jewish screeds go well beyond the rhetoric he employed during those riots. Sharpton has referred to Jews in the past as “diamond merchants,” “white interlopers,” and “Jew bastards.”

Is it therefore not unreasonable to ask why the ADL and Jonathan Greenblatt are proudly collaborating with this Jew-hating bigot in the #StopHateforProfit campaign. This isn’t about the merits of the campaign. It’s about a figure who no Jewish lay leader ought to be working with when it comes to issues of civil rights. It’s not only a disservice to the Jewish community; but also a slap in the face to the African American community as well. The African American community deserves better.

About the Author
Josh Nass is an award winning public relations executive and attorney specializing in crisis communications and reputation management. Nass has built a thriving practice that has grown to include a diverse portfolio of clients in a wide range of different industries. Among the fields Nass Strategies caters to are the healthcare, financial services, media and nonprofit sectors. Over the years the firm has represented the nation’s largest nursing home chains and their respective executives; a number of different venture capital firms and hedge funds in the financial sector, numerous high profile individuals; and several different media outlets. Clients have included The New York Observer, NYC based NGN Capital, the London Center for Policy Research, SW Management, Rainbow Apparel Company, Rockport Healthcare and many more. Nass Strategies has also been involved in providing media counsel to political campaigns both domestically and internationally. The firm has a staff fluent in Russian and Hebrew, and is active in working with clients based abroad. The firm also has a vast network of politically connected nonprofit clients. Those include but are in no way limited to American Friends of Likud, One Israel Fund and The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. Nass got his start working in politics; having appeared dozens of times across Fox News, MSNBC and other cable networks by the time he had graduated college. In August of 2014, Nass ceased his on-air political punditry, marking his official foray into the public relations arena. Having already executed national media campaigns on behalf of numerous nonprofit and public advocacy groups as well as for several high profile individuals, Nass has quickly rose to prominence as a speaker and commentator on the subject. In addition to traditional media placement, Nass has been a sought after practitioner for crisis communications and reputation management issues. In June of 2014, Nass was placed on The Jewish Weekʼs 36 under 36 list. Josh prides himself on the unique and untraditional approach he brings to the execution of public relations campaigns. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brandeis University and holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
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