Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Kamala Harris, under the auspices of the Anti-Defamation League, is to be rehabilitated after her recent antisemitic oopsie. At least that was my impression on reading that the vice president was to be the featured speaker at the annual Anti-Defamation League (ADL) conference. Perhaps you remember the vice president’s “faux pas” in which she smiled and nodded as a student accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.” After which Harris congratulated the student for speaking her “truth.”

Now the ADL, under former Clinton and Obama appointee Jonathan Greenblatt, is giving Harris cover for her unforgiveable behavior, and attempting to blind us to the poor optics of that event.

Even before the conference, held Tuesday night, we were already told what Harris would say during her address. Harris was to denounce “the singling out of Israel ‘because of anti-Jewish hatred.’” Elder has already commented on the fact that such a statement is a tautology, that anything that is singled out because of Jew-hatred is antisemitism. As such, this makes Kamala’s denouncement, well, not very smart, and also meaningless.

As Elder rightly states, there is another issue with Harris’ denouncement. Harris is saying that the singling out of Israel is only antisemitism when it’s done out of anti-Jewish hatred. In so saying, the vice president is actually suggesting that it’s okay to single out Israel as long as you don’t do it out of anti-Jewish hatred. That means that any individual or group can claim their harsh, overweening focus on Israel is righteous, because it has nothing to do with Jews or antisemitism. Which of course, is a lie.

Just like Harris’ denouncement is a lie, framed so neatly to impress and mollify the Jews.

Note that Harris refers to “anti-Jewish hatred” as opposed to “Jew-hatred.” The distinction between the two phrases is important. “Anti-Jewish hatred” is about hating the Jewish religion or perhaps Jewish culture, like hating, for example, bagels. “Jew-hatred,” on the other hand, is about hating JEWS. Actual, live people.

The phrase “anti-Jewish hatred” was crafted with care to suggest that the singling out of Israel is never about hating people. And in fact, in making this linguistic distinction, Harris is pretty much saying that antisemitism isn’t really about a people, but their religious beliefs.

This kind of reminds me of the way parents are advised never to tell children that they are bad. Instead, the parent is supposed to say, “That is a bad thing you did.”

In other words, refer to the thing, never to the person.

It is the same with Kamala’s crafty phrase “anti-Jewish hatred.” When you characterize “antisemitism” as not being about people but about their religion or their culture, you pretty much suck all the meaning out of the word. Antisemitism is not about hating a religion or a culture. It’s about xenophobia. It’s about hating people.  

By referring to Jew-hatred as “anti-Jewish hatred,” Harris, in effect, delegitimizes antisemitism as a concept. It’s as if she is saying there is no such thing as hating Jews because they are Jews, but only because of their beliefs. And she said as much in her address to the ADL conference: “I want to be very clear about this: When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is anti-Semitism.”

Yes, Kamala. Crystal clear. According to you, Harris, Jews are not targeted because they are Jews—they are targeted for their beliefs or because they identify as Jews.

This is not about missing the point, but a deliberate feint. Imagine you are a secular Jew in Germany and you identify not as a Jew, but as a proud and patriotic German. Do you think Hitler gives a crap how you identify? He hated and wanted to eradicate Jews not because of how they identified or what they believed in but because they were Jewish.

I am sure that many liberal Jews will point to the vice president’s remarks with satisfaction and put that little episode with the student behind them. They’ll say, “We knew she couldn’t be an antisemite. After all, she’s married to a Jew.”

And the people at JStreet will fawn all over themselves because they now have official government sanction to single out Israel, as long as they say they’re not singling out Israel from “anti-Jewish hatred.”

What of the ADL, the host of this vice presidential theater? Back in 1913, when Sigmund Livingston founded the Ant-Defamation League with a $200 budget, his stated mission was “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people.” Livingston understood that antisemitism is first and foremost about people—Jewish people. This became even clearer when around the time of the ADL’s founding, Leo Frank was lynched for a crime he did not commit. He was lynched because he was a Jew—and not because of his culture or religion.

Today, however, the ADL is presided over by Jonathan Greenblatt. Greenblatt makes no secret of  his political leanings. In fact, the ADL leadership, as Jonathan Tobin put it, “seems to think they no longer even have to pretend to be anything but a Democratic Party auxiliary group.”

Support for Harris in spite of her nodding approval at a student’s statement that Israel is engaged in genocide is just the tip of the iceberg for Greenblatt. According to Tobin, “Greenblatt tweeted his opposition to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court within seconds of the announcement, no matter that there was no discernable Jewish issue at play, let alone one involving the ADL’s brief on anti-Semitism.”

Greenblatt also shared a stage with notorious Jew-hater Al Sharpton on the MSNBC show “Politics Nation With Al Sharpton” in July of 2020. Greenblatt’s excuse for appearing with Sharpton was that he was on the show only to promote the ADL's call for a corporate ban on Facebook because of the social media giant’s unwillingness to ban hate speech. No one else thought this partnership between the ADL and a flagrant and unrepentant antisemite was a good idea, except perhaps for Al Sharpton.

And then there’s this:

The ADL, under the heading "Tools for Dealing with Anti-Semitic & Anti-Israel Incidents on Campus," has a resource entitled, “Six Proactive Strategies to Prevent Anti-Israel Activity,” which proclaims JStreetU as “pro-Israel activists" and a "tremendous resource and support" for Jewish students.”

Yeah. That’s the same JStreet that jumped on the bandwagon to defend John Kerry when he said that if Israel didn’t sign on to Obama’s fake peace agreement, it would become an “Apartheid state.” From the NY Times:

J Street, a pro-peace Jewish organization, defended Mr. Kerry. “Instead of putting energy into attacking Secretary Kerry, those who are upset with the secretary’s use of the term should put their energy into opposing and changing the policies that are leading Israel down this road,” it said in a statement.

In other words, if Israel doesn’t stop building homes in its indigenous territory and doesn’t allow terrorists to overrun the country and murder Jews, then that makes the Jewish State an Apartheid state. And JStreet signed on to that idea. What a “tremendous resource and support” for Jewish students to have these “pro-Israel activists” on campus.

Under the heading of “our values,” the ADL website makes a now ludicrous claim, “We stand up for the Jewish State of Israel—the only democratically-elected government in the Middle East.”

If that were true, the ADL would have condemned Harris for applauding that misguided, possibly evil student who accused Israel of genocide. Instead, the ADL gave Kamala Harris pride of place at its conference: what appeared, at least, to be the best possible cover for her bad optics with that student.

Sigmund Livingston may not have been able to even imagine a Jewish State back in 1913 when he founded the ADL. But dollars to donuts he would never have stood for turning the organization into a partisan mouthpiece that carries water for either political party. As such, he never would have allowed the ADL to be used as a platform for a Kamala Harris makeover. 


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