Under Jonathan Greenblatt, they’ve lost focus, attacking conservatives instead of fighting anti-Semitism.
by DOV FISCHER
Director Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at 2017 National Council of La Raza Annual Conference, Phoenix, Arizona
Imagine that a group of prominent Catholic “human-rights activists” issues statements condemning the pope and the Vatican for their stands opposing gay marriage and abortion on demand. Actually, it happens all the time. Probably the two most powerful Catholics in America, who also double as two of the most powerful people in America — Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, both of whom go out of their ways regularly to tell us that they are devout Catholics — are two of the leading movers in the Western world for supporting gay marriage, all kinds of transgender theories and practices, and legalizing not only abortion on demand but even post-birth terminating of newborns whose parents did not intend to have them. And did we mention other prominent Catholics like, say, the Honorable Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he of abortion on demand for fetuses, COVID by his demand in nursing homes, and women by his command whenever? What — does that guy think he lives in a tree house where no one sees him?
What is a Jew like me — a fairly educated Orthodox rabbi who studied comparative religion during my undergraduate years at Columbia University, during an era when they taught real stuff — supposed to think about the authentic Catholic position on issues like these? Well, first I read my American Spectator colleague George Neumayr. I know he is real. I consider the extended conversations during private audiences I have enjoyed with the present and previous Catholic bishops of the Orange County, California, diocese where I live. I am reasonable. I know what’s what. And I commiserate because, as a Jew whose entire life has been rooted in authentic Jewish teachings, I know the frustration when impostors gain access to a complicitly fake Left mainstream media who willingly play the game to replace the authentic with the pale imitation.
Back in the mid-to-late 19th and very early 20th century, a huge rush of immigration was apace in America — from China, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Eastern Europe. Whereas there had been 250,000 Jews in America by 1880, an influx to the United States of 3.25 million Jews from Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1914 changed the complexion of American Jewry. We changed from a mostly westernized, non-religious or Reform Judaism-based German-descending community, centered significantly amid such Midwestern German Protestant populations as Cincinnati, into an East European community of New York–based immigrants who spoke little English, knew little of the West, and came with deep-rooted Orthodox Jewish religious practices or with no religion at all. When those 3.25 million arrived during those three frantic decades between the assassination of Tsar Alexander II and the start of World War I, they were greeted by the Jewish social welfare agencies that were just being created by the now-established German Jews who had preceded them here.
It was a strange love-hate thing. In those days, America did not heap benefits on destitute newcomers. Therefore, on the one hand, the established German Jewish agencies in America truly wanted to help their fellow Jews avoid starvation. They also did not want newspaper headlines about millions of newly arriving Jews draining the economy. On a deeper level, the landed and assimilated German-American Jews desperately raced to rid the immigrants of their religious beliefs and values that made them seem so “different.” The German Jews worried that the sudden appearance in America of millions of Orthodox Jews, with strange religious practices and wearing quaint clothes and sporting ancient hairstyles, would incentivize anti-Semitism to a degree hitherto unknown here. So they worked feverishly to assimilate the East European arrivals. Julia Richman, the superintendent of the New York City public schools in the Lower East Side, gave teachers orders to grab any child heard speaking Yiddish in the school hallways and to wash the child’s mouth out with soap. Minnie Lewis stood on street corners, offering children free cookies if they would let her cut their extended sideburns. Efforts were made to convert the young immigrant generation from their parents’ religious Orthodoxy to Reform Judaism, a theology akin to Unitarianism, where pork is eaten and intermarriage is boasted.
It really was quite love-hate. The German Jews built Jewish hospitals like Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City because Jewish doctors still were being barred from practicing elsewhere. And yet those same Jews then initially barred the children of East European immigrants from practicing at Mount Sinai. While German Jews who had business sense went into investing and finance, they tried persuading the East European immigrants to move to Vineland, New Jersey, and to the Catskill Mountains beyond New York’s boroughs to be farmers. That would get tens of thousands of East European Jews out of view, out of sight, out of mind — and also might counter the stereotype of Jews as financiers once the immigrants succeeded as farmers. To be sure, the German Jews did not send their own kids to farm in Vineland and in the Catskills. And the projects failed miserably. The immigrant Jews in Vineland ended up getting Ph.D.s in agricultural science and publishing magazines about farming, while the ones in the Catskills ended up turning their farmhouses into small restaurants, then bigger ones, and then into resort hotels where other Jews, denied other job or career opportunities because of discrimination, became stand-up comedians.
And so it went. To get the East Europeans out of sight, the German Jewish agencies even shipped ten thousand more of the immigrants from New York to Galveston, Texas. When other American men’s fraternities barred the wave of Jews who came in from Germany, they formed B’nai B’rith fraternal lodges. And then, initially, those lodges barred East European Jews. Many, though not all, historians believe the very epithet “kike” first gained currency in the German-American community. Yep, dem’s my peeps.
But when Jews came under anti-Semitic attack, that was a time to pull together. Jew-haters do not distinguish between East European Jews and German Jews, Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews. They just hate blindly and irrationally. The stereotypes are crazy and contradictory. Disgruntled tenants will complain about the Jewish landlord, and disgruntled landlords about the Jewish tenant. Haters among the communists, as typified by the worst Jew-hater of them all, Karl Marx, accused all Jews of being capitalists who live for mammon, a Hebrew word for money. (Marx did not regard himself as Jewish and hated Jews. His father had converted to Protestantism.) Haters among capitalists meanwhile accused all Jews of being communists. How confusing it must have been for such haters in the 1970s, as Jews emerged as the single most anti-Soviet demographic in America.
As Jews arrived in larger numbers, new forms of anti-Semitism emerged. Some were the subtle Gentleman’s Agreement version that kept Jews out of hotels and country clubs into the 1960s. Thus did the Republican Party lose a Jewish constituency that initially had backed it, just as Republicans likewise lost the Irish, Italian, and other ethnic Catholic classes for a century until Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter fostered some reorienting. When, amid the Great Depression, one famous “restricted” Beverly Hills country club decided that, with so many of their white-shoe Christian members going bankrupt, they needed finally to allow Hollywood Jews in as dues-paying members, Groucho Marx famously said that he would not join any club that wanted him as a member. Many think he was being cleverly witty Groucho, but he was not joking; he knew why they suddenly wanted him, and he wanted no part of that. He had no problem joining the Hillcrest country club that Jews established as their alternative.
In 1913 Atlanta, Georgia, anti-Semitism took a dramatic new turn. It was the Georgia of Tom Watson and the KKK. A young girl was found strangled in the basement of a local pencil factory. Without evidence to justify the accusations, just suspicions and unsubstantiated claims, a public hate campaign spurred by Watson, amid other factors, led to the arrest of the factory manager, a New York Jew who had moved down there to assume the job. After arriving, he had become president of the Atlanta B’nai B’rith. That Jew, Leo Frank, was put on a show trial and was convicted amid mob violence outside the courtroom. He was sentenced to death. The governor, John Slaton, whose name had been bandied about as potential vice-presidential material, heroically brought his rising political career to an abrupt end by commuting Frank’s sentence. His life and family threatened, Slaton had to leave Georgia for 10 years. Meanwhile, armed Jew-haters invaded the jail where Frank was being held, kidnapped him, and lynched him in August 1915 in Marietta, Georgia.
Thus emerged the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith. America’s Jews desperately needed a defense organization, and B’nai B’rith, the fraternal order, was their biggest group, so best situated to act. They formed the ADL. ADL emerged to defend German Jews in America, and they defended East European Jews because, when anti-Semitism arises, haters do not distinguish. For the next century, ADL became identified with Jewish legal defense.
But this no longer is the case. As Jew-hatred of the Marietta, Georgia, sort abated in America, ADL increasingly lost sight of its fundamental purpose. Expanding its mission to focus on opposing other forms of hate, ADL became more of a general all-purpose human-rights organization. That can be a good thing if implemented fairly. Unfortunately, ADL’s demise as a Jewish organization was cemented in July 2015, ironically almost 100 years to the day of the Leo Frank lynching, when the organization named Jonathan Greenblatt to be its new national director. Greenblatt, a hardened “progressive,” had just served as special assistant to the president in the Obama White House. He is an Obama acolyte through and through. From the day that he arrived, he converted the ADL into a markedly left-focused organization. Under Greenblatt, ADL has focused almost exclusively on combating right-wing hate and also attacking conservative non-haters among Republicans, Fox News anchors, and the like — while giving virtually free passes to the Left.
For example, ADL presented data on anti-Semitism during the Trump presidency that defied reality. In one egregious case, they reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents during Trump’s first year when other data showed a decrease. Notably, in blaming Trump’s emergence, they included in their tally some 150 bomb threats made to American Jewish institutions by a mentally disturbed Israeli Jewish teen who ultimately was convicted by a Tel Aviv court of phoning in thousands of such threats from overseas.
The demise of ADL as a Jewish organization and its conversion into a mouthpiece for Obama acolytes has been mourned for the past five years. Seth Mandel has written about it in Commentary. Liel Leibovitz, another leading American Jewish commentator, wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal. Investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield exposed further details in David Horowitz’s FrontPage Mag. Likewise Andrew Harrod in Jihad Watch and the Orthodox Jewish online source Matzav. Most recently, Jonathan Tobin has written about ADL’s pronouncedly left bias and “overhyped statistics” in several articles in JNS, a national Jewish news service.
In an era of white supremacist hate and an extraordinary outbreak of rabidly anti-Jewish hate on the left, especially on college campuses with the Nazi-like BDS movement to boycott only the one country in the world with a Jewish majority, and even among Democrats in Congress like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and others, it is regrettable that the Jewish community has lost a defense organization to the politics of unbridled progressivism. But that is the reality of the day. Just as devout Catholics endeavor to persuade non-Catholics that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are not who and what they say they are, so it now has had to fall on the Coalition for Jewish Values, representing 1,500 American traditional rabbis, to speak out against Greenblatt’s and ADL’s latest outrage, the totally unwarranted and unjustified attack on Tucker Carlson for his condemning Biden’s effort to import millions of new voters to “replace” the landed electorate by imbalancing future American elections. As Jeffrey Lord has explained thoroughly in The American Spectator, Carlson is absolutely correct. Voter “replacement” is exactly, precisely what the Biden–Pelosi–Schumer Democrats now are endeavoring to do, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s nine seats next in their sights.
One looks at the conservative red California that once dependably elected governors like Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, and Pete Wilson. Or at Nevada and Arizona, dependably Republican until supplanted by the coordinated Democrat effort to open the borders and then to convince the likes of even a Reagan, and certainly Bushes, to grant mass amnesties and rapid “paths leading to citizenship” — i.e., paths leading to voting for the party that promises unlimited government payouts and services. Of course we now are watching, before our very eyes, a concerted effort to replace the electorate that was electing Republicans. And look where newcomers are being sent, all those unaccompanied children who are wrapped up by Biden’s administration in aluminum foil and placed initially in Obama–Biden cages — places like San Diego, one of the last redoubts of conservatism in California, and Texas, the red state with the most electoral college votes. Understandably, North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has spoken out forcefully, telling Biden that she will not let her state be next.
How can anyone objective not see what is happening? The reason that Biden insists that the chaos at the border is not a “crisis” is plain to see: it is planned chaos, aimed at overrunning the system to leave no choice but to move millions of future Democrat voters ultimately into states where they can turn those tides as they have in the American Southwest. Along with aiming to add two new guaranteed Democrat states, thus four new Democrat U.S. senators, and packing the U.S. Supreme Court, it marks a concerted Democrat effort to turn the entire country into a California with one-party rule.
Yes, white supremacist haters in Charlottesville spoke of “replacement” theory, and they falsely and wrongly targeted the slogan with bigotry. But because a white supremacist says that it gets warm in the summer and cold in the winter does not mean that Tucker Carlson is racist for observing the same. If white supremacists oppose tax increases, that does not make it racism for normal people to oppose tax increases, too. If white supremacists protest being banned by Facebook or Twitter, that does not make Dennis Prager an anti-Semite when he blasts YouTube for taking down some of his fabulous five-minute Prager University segments, like their absurd censoring of his segment on the Ten Commandments on grounds that it violated YouTube standards by speaking of murder (“Thou Shalt — uh … — Not Murder”).
Jonathan Greenblatt’s and ADL’s attack on Tucker Carlson must be deplored by all fair-minded Americans. And, as 1,500 Orthodox rabbis have made clear — and has been reported across online news media but suppressed uniformly by the Left mainstream media — ADL does not speak for Jews and no longer even is a Jewish organization.