I wanted to make sure you saw this email we sent last week from JVPer Lesley Williams. It's a powerful message that deserves to be heard. Please read and then click here to sign our petition to the ADL to end their Deadly Exchange programs. Thank you! —Stefanie
I am an African-American Jew by choice. I grew up in Chicago in the ‘60s and ‘70s with public school teacher parents who were very involved in civil rights. To us, the Anti-Defamation League was one of the organizations you could really trust— one of the few white organizations that was looking out for African-Americans.
I started to become disenchanted in the early ‘80s when the ADL began opposing Affirmative Action during the Bakke case. It was a shock, and a moment when a lot of African-Americans were beginning to ask: if the ADL is supposed to be our ally, why would they not support us?
More recently, seeing the ways the ADL has systematically attacked Palestinian students and censured critique of Israel, their extensive espionage efforts— spying not just on pro-Palestinian organizations but on the ACLU and the NAACP… more and more I saw that the focus on overall civil rights seemed to be diminished in favor of single-minded advocacy for Israel, and my thinking really began to change.
So when I learned about the ADL’s law enforcement exchange programs that bring U.S. police, border patrol, and ICE officers to train with Israeli military and police, and how they promote racial profiling and militarized policing, I was saddened— but not terribly surprised.
Although the stated goal is “counter-terrorism” training, to me it seems clear that the ADL’s Deadly Exchange programs have two actual goals. One is legitimizing violent policing in the U.S. and Israel. The other is building up more unconditional support for Israel within the U.S. Sadly, they've been very effective at both.
When U.S. police go to Israel on these ADL trips, they come back and talk about how wonderful Israel is, how ahead of us they are, how we should be copying their techniques… but they don’t see the effects of those techniques on Palestinians, the effects of surveillance on those communities. Israelis likewise do not see what's happening in Englewood and the West Side of Chicago, how these police techniques are affecting and disrupting those communities. Both Israeli and U.S. law enforcement come away with a skewed idea, encouraged to double down on their already harmful practices.
If the ADL is really standing up for the rights of immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans, why do they oppose Affirmative Action? Why do they publish a dossier attacking the Council of American Islamic Relations, the largest civil rights organization for Muslims in the United States? Why do they celebrate someone like Daniel Pipes, who is responsible for a great deal of institutionalized Islamophobia? Why do they create educational materials for schools that equate the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement with far-right antisemitism? Why are they leading trainings that encourage racial profiling and overly aggressive, military-style policing against communities of color?
And why do they throw all their supposed values out the window when it comes to Israel?
When ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt talks about African-American civil rights, he is talking about a romanticized view of the past. He's encouraged legacy tours where African-Americans and Jews go together to the South to look at all the sites where we collaborated, and talk about Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman, and Rabbi Heschel. But he seems to have no respect for young African-Americans who are the face of the civil rights movement today, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement.
And he fails to understand why people who are involved in anti-racism and anti-colonial struggles globally would not see this relentless, unquestioning cheerleading for Israel as problematic.
My message to the ADL is: take a good hard look at yourselves. If you want to be an Israel advocacy organization, fine. If you want to be in bed with some of the most reactionary and right-wing people in the United States today, okay. Then stop pretending to be a civil rights organization.
If you want to return to your original mission of protecting the civil rights of all minorities, then join us and do the real work. Start by ending these Deadly Exchange programs, now.
Click here and send the ADL a message of your own. Tell them if they stand with immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans, and against bigotry, they need to put a stop to the Deadly Exchange.