The Anti-Defamation League has pleaded with US President Donald Trump to quit “throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism” in his attacks on four progressive congresswomen – two of whom the ADL has also smeared with the term.
“While ADL has publicly disagreed with these congresswomen on some issues, the president is echoing the racist talking points of white nationalists and cynically using the Jewish people and the state of Israel as a shield to double down on his remarks,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a press release on Monday.
As Greenblatt acknowledges, the ADL led the charge condemning Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her pointed criticism of the Israeli lobby’s influence in Washington, even congratulating Congress on passing a resolution in March condemning anti-Semitism that was drawn up in response to her comments.
And the ADL accused Rashida Tlaib of deploying “anti-Semitic tropes” when she spoke up against a bill that would authorize states to punish companies for participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement by claiming senators who supported the bill “forgot what country they represent.” The ADL regularly attacks the BDS movement and its participants as anti-Semitic, pushing Congress to pass laws condemning and even criminalizing it, even though the movement, which has many Jewish participants, opposes the Israeli government, not Jews as an ethnic group.
“Politicizing the widespread, bipartisan support for Israel and throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism is damaging to the security of Israel and the Jewish community,” Greenblatt continued, urging the president to “lead by example, stop politicizing these issues and stop smearing members of Congress.”
The ADL has targeted Trump himself with spurious accusations of anti-Semitism, blaming what it called a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on the president having “emboldened and given encouragement to the worst antisemites and bigots.” The group even urged him to ditch his “America First” slogan because the “America First Committee,” which opposed American entry into World War II, used it, and that movement’s leader Charles Lindbergh “sympathized with the Nazis.”
However, when Trump obligingly put America second in one of his Monday tweets attacking “the four ‘progressives’” for their “hate of Israel and the USA,” the ADL suddenly drew the line, further blurring the border between acceptable (if factually dubious) accusations of anti-Semitism and “racist talking points.”
While Greenblatt has a point about the threat that “crying wolf” about anti-Semitism poses to the Jewish community, the ADL hasn’t been above crying wolf itself from time to time. Its accusations of anti-Semitism were central to both Trump’s decision to disinvite cartoonist Ben Garrison from the White House social media summit and the New York Times’ decision to discontinue its political cartoon page entirely, contributing to the rise in “anti-Semitism fatigue.”