Anti-Defamation League Seeks to 'Defame' PalAD

I found out this week that Palestine Advocacy Project, along with a slew of other Palestinian rights groups, earned some much-appreciated press from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the form of a page titled ‘Misleading the Public: The Rise of Anti-Israel Ad Campaigns.’ For those of you who don’t know, the ADL, whose tagline is ‘Imagine a World Without Hate,’ purports to be crusaders against global anti-semitism. They have done some important work in pursuit of that important goal. Unfortunately,  their recent attacks on Palestinian students and legitimate political organizations are as hateful as the anti-semitism they claim to challenge. This has led a great many people to believe that the ADL’s work is not so much geared toward opposing anti-semitism, but towards advancing Israeli propaganda and policy. I am therefore proud that our work, along with campaigns by esteemed human rights advocacy groups such as Friends of Sabeel, Students for Justice in Palestine, American Muslims for Palestine, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, has been noticed by the Anti Defamation League. If we are attracting their attention, then our work must be pushing the right buttons.

To be fair, the ADL spent their first several decades focused on their goal of ridding the world of anti-semitism. However they seem to have fallen into a common trap - the idea that anti-Zionism and anti-semitism are the same thing. Today, the ADL is a member of the Congress of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, one of the most powerful Zionist lobbyist groups in the United States.

The ADL’s road into politics has been full of potholes. The first and perhaps most scandalous one came in the early 1990’s, when the FBI revealed that a privately hired spy named Roy Bullock had been passing on information to both the ADL and the Apartheid Era South African Government about a number of ‘suspicious groups’. While some of these organizations may have actually held threatening political beliefs, the majority of the groups on which Bullock spied where charities, labor organizations, and civil rights leaders such as the NAACP. The ADL has had curiously little to say about this illegal espionage and about their suspected collaboration with the incredibly hateful Apartheid regime in South Africa. The idea that an anti-racist group in the U.S. would  involve themselves in the workings of one of the most blatantly discriminatory administrations in recent history seems ludicrous. For the ADL, this would prove to be the beginning of a long decline from fighting for social justice.

Since then, the ADL has been involved in a number of slightly more legal, but equally nefarious schemes to undermine those working for social equality, both in the US and in Palestine/Israel. For example, they have urged American universities to consider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions rallies ‘hostile events’ and ‘security threats’, and applauded the firing of Steven Salaita, a University of Illinois Professor, who was dismissed after tweeting criticisms of Israel. In other instances, they have privately funded trips for American police officers to visit Israel and train with Israeli Defense Force soldiers. The police would go on to use the brutal IDF tactics against Black Lives Matter protestors in Ferguson, MO. In fact, just days before the one year anniversary of Michael Browns death, the ADL honored the St. Louis Police Department for participating in their anti-bias training. Local Black Lives Matter activists condemned the endorsement, presumably because the anti-bias training did not seem to make the department any less racist.

The ADL lists our campaigns as ‘Ads Alleging Israeli Human Rights Violations’ (the other categories are: Ads Calling for an End to U.S. aid to Israel, Ads Distorting Israeli History, and Miscellaneous). The ads they highlight, from our One Word and Gaza campaigns, are actually meticulously researched; they carefully adhere to facts established by the United Nations and credible human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. The ADL’s contention that abuses we highlight are ‘alleged’ and not ‘definite’ seems almost laughable. Indeed, the ADL offers absolutely no information that could refute any of the facts that we state.

So congratulations to us, as well as the other fine Palestinian rights groups that are being defamed by the Anti-Defamation League. If a group that claims to promote tolerance, but is actually demonstrably partisan, hostile to academic freedom, and which has supported violent suppression of racial equality activists has a problem with us, we must be doing something right!

Posts by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect the position of Palestine Advocacy Project.