Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

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The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an anti-hate organization founded in 1913. Its main agenda is apparently to accuse anyone criticizing Israel of being “anti-Semitic” and of spreading “hate speech”. As a very influential organization, the ADL can coerce social media platforms to ban and deprive critics of Israel of their freedom of speech.

ADL supports Israel as “a Jewish and democratic state”1, and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, negotiated by both parties.2 The organization opposed the 1975 United Nations resolution (revoked in 1991) which stated that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The ADL has blocked attempts to revive the resolution’s definition at the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.3

Cracking down on pro-Palestinian activism

Since 1993, the ADL has lobbied for many Palestinian groups to be recognized as “terrorist threats” to America. Consequently, lobbying by the ADL led to the 2001 closure of the Holy Land Foundation (which was the largest Muslim charity in America) on accounts of supporting the Palestinian group Hamas. It was led by Palestinian-Americans.

While the ADL has long lobbied for congress to forbid any American enterprise and business from joining the Arab League economic boycott of Israel4, it has simultaneously taken steps to undermine the BDS movement and has supported many anti-BDS laws.

In 2010, the ADL published a list of the “ten leading organizations responsible for maligning Israel in the US”, which has included groups such as ANSWER, the International Solidarity Movement, and Jewish Voice for Peace for promoting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign.5 The organization also blacklists individuals who criticize Israel or fail to condemn those who do so.6

The ADL supported Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it as the capital of Israel.7ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt traveled to Israel to join Trump administration officials at the official opening ceremony of the embassy in Jerusalem.8

In August 2020, a group of progressive foundations started the #DropTheADL campaign, claiming that ADL is not an ally in the “struggle for social justice”. The most important groups which supported this campaign were Democratic Socialists of America, Movement for Black Lives, Jewish Voice for Peace, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Council on American–Islamic Relations.9 An open letter published by the campaign stated that the ADL “has a history and ongoing pattern of attacking social justice movements …, while aligning itself with police, right-wing leaders, and perpetrators of state violence.”10

The ADL said those who contributed to the campaign were “many of the same groups who have been pushing an anti-Israel agenda for years.”11 Around sixty organizations joined the campaign on its primary launch, and an additional hundred groups joined by February 2021.

9.Khalel, Sheren (August 12, 2020). “‘Don’t work with Anti-Defamation League,’ progressive groups urge”. Middle East Eye. Retrieved January 3, 2021.

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