Columns Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

Lay off the ADL!

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz speaks during the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Seattle, Washington on March 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters/David Ryder

Up until this past week, the worst thing that ever happened at a Starbucks was that a barista screwed up the order for the triple skim chai latte.

Then, last week, at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, several black men, waiting at the store for an appointment to begin, were forcibly ejected — for the crime of standing around waiting for an appointment.

To its credit, Starbucks is appalled. They have committed themselves to training their employees in diversity.

They have invited the ADL, as well as the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. to be consultants in that project.

Then, it hit the fan.

Leaders of the Women’s March have blasted Starbucks for bringing in the ADL.

Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour accused the civil rights group of bias against “black and brown people.”

Jewish Voice for Peace is also involved in this protest.

“Lots of people are bringing up these concerns about the ADL in various communities, and it’s a real reflection of a deep-seated concern about the role that it plays portraying itself as a progressive organization,” the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, told the Forward.

A little history.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded a little more than a century ago, in the aftermath of the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jew living in Georgia.

It was founded as a response to anti-semitism. Over the subsequent decades, it substantially broadened its reach, fighting hate crimes against:

  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • Asians
  • Sikhs
  • Muslims
  • LGBT
  • Immigrants.

The ADL tracks and infiltrates white supremacist groups. The ADL is one of the largest providers of anti-bias education programming in the country. Its programs, including anti-bullying programs, reach 1.5 million schoolchildren — and 15,000 law enforcement officials — every year.

The ADL is a liberal Jewish organization. It is perhaps the premier civil rights organization in the United States, and in the world.

(Full disclosure: I am proud to say that I worked for the ADL, as the New Jersey director. I greatly enjoyed the work, and learned a great deal from the ADL’s former national director, Abraham Foxman. I derive inspiration from the work of its current national director, Jonathan Greenblatt.)

So, what could possibly have aroused the ire of Linda Sarsour and Tamika Monika?

And where could they have gotten this business about the ADL oppressing black and brown people?

It’s intersectionality.

Just not the kind that people usually talk about.

The intersection is the police – and Israel.

First, the police. The ADL has strong, crucial relationships with local and state police departments, as well as the FBI. Why? Because the police and the FBI pursue the perpetrators of hate crimes. Pure and simple.

But, if you believe the narrative that the police are anti-black, that is enough to raise a red flag.

Second, Israel. The ADL sends police officers on trips to Israel. They learn about the state. On some programs, the visiting police officers engage in conversation with, and learn tactics and techniques, from the IDF.

Here is the bizarre mental process.

  • The ADL works with the police.
  • The police (they think) hate black people.
  • Therefore, the ADL must hate black people.
  • The ADL takes the hated police to the hated Jewish State.

In the Manichean universe of those on the far left, that would be enough. The ADL is now demonic.

In the minds of Sarsour and Mallory — ADL, no.

But, Louis Farrakhan, who has made vile anti-semitic and homophobic statements — yes.

Mallory has called Farrakhan “the greatest of all time.”

To quote Yair Rosenberg in Tablet:

Anyone who associates with anti-Semites, praises anti-Semites, publicizes anti-Semites, and bizarrely goes after the #1 Jewish organization devoted to combating anti-Semites, is definitely not entitled to present themselves as an opponent of anti-Semitism—whether they are the president of the United States or an organizer of the Women’s March.

I wish that I was surprised.

I am not.

Because, while the right has more than its share of anti-semitic history — in the form of racism and nationalism — the far left has its own sobering pattern.

  • Karl Marx believed that the God of the Jews was money.
  • In eastern Europe, it was common for peasant groups to turn against the very Jews who were helping them in their nascent revolution against their oppressors.
  • Joseph Stalin did a wonderful job of repressing both Jews and Judaism in the former Soviet Union.
  • The Soviet Union basically ran the anti-Israel propaganda machine at the United Nations.
  • The New Left in the United States made common cause with anti-Israel groups.
  • The European Left fought by the side of Palestinian terrorists, as at Entebbe.
  • In certain quarters of black activist groups, especially after the death of Dr. King, militant black groups decided that they didn’t need, or want, Jewish groups helping them. The Jews were white, privileged, interlopers.

Mallory and Sarsour, et al. because of their own political agenda, reject the honest, sincere, time-tested efforts of the ADL.

It is their right to do so.

It is also their right to invent myths about the ADL — myths that have more in common with medieval blood libels than modern truths.

It is also our right to say that we are outraged.

It is also our honor to say: Despite what you do, say, and embody — and as much as you tempt and tease us, we Jews will not walk away from the cause of racial justice.

Because, ultimately, we care more about racism than we care about Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.


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  • Sometimes I wonder if these folks hate the ADL because it is successful? That success, if it spreads would undermine their self-righteous indignation, basically putting the fear and hate mongers out of business. Though they don’t see themselves as fear and hate mongers.

  • Jews helped Joseph Stalin persecute Russians. They ran gulags and led the secret police.

  • You say you monitor your comments, but Jew Hatred being expressed with Jew Hating lies, is perfectly ok with your moderators. I point to Otto T. Goat. Why are his posts acceptable to you? They are disgusting lies, and you lie to your readers.

  • This board is not big on banning people unless they post directly threatening content to others, doxxing, or something really egregious. The infestation of Neo Nazi Nabobs is a function of our current M0r0n in Chief supporting and enabling such to come out in the open.

  • Aw poor Neo-Nazi nabob feels left out and wants to feel special. Poor little snowflake.

    Just remember “White Genocide” really means racist guys are too inadequate to procreate.

  • yeah, you Nazi [email protected]#, come and get me. You are the lowest form of life on Planet Earth, You and your ilk enslaved my parents, murdered my 18 month old brother, killed my grandparents and aunts and uncles, and you are walking around free? They should lock you up, you murderous wannabe. Get your AR15 and come and shoot me dead. That’s what you really want to do. Stick your words where the sun don’t shine, and put yourself into the action. Make yourself the BEST AMERICAN NAZI EVER. C’mon. What are you waiting for SNOWFLAKE? Big mouth, big fancy pants Nazi that you are. i AIN’T DEAD YET, WHAT IS TAKING YOU SO LONG TO GET HERE AND MURDER ME? NAZI PIG.

  • The problem with the reaction against Starbucks using someone from the ADL as a resource for their workshops used to address racism is that the judgment is an all-or-nothing judgment. Salkin is right in listing some of the above contributions of the ADL.

    At the same time, there are serious questions to be asked about Israel training of some of our police forces especially when we see how force has been misused by some or our police officers. Thus, why should our police officers be trained by a military that implements an ethnically based occupation? Here we should note that certainly there are legitimate questions to be raised about how Israel has been treating the Palestinians.

    Thus I would modify Salkin’s article, especially its title. Yes, the ADL merits criticism. At the same time, it also merits recognition for its contributions. And finally, all-or-nothing thinking is part of what caused the incident at Starbucks. So why employ it when trying to find how to prevent a repeat of that incident?

    Also see

  • I dare Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour to bring their Anti-Semitic selves to THIS forum for 2 minutes. Alt-Left Cultists need good fresh deprogramming with homemade BBQ Sauce!!

  • All extremists, Jewish and otherwise, will rant against the establishment whether or not it is good.

  • Instead of relying on propaganda groups you should read the actual case materials. Pay attention to the layout of the pencil factory.

  • The Alt Left is a lot like reverse racism and political correctness. It is something you hear a lot of opposition to but zero evidence of actually existing in real life.

  • Since there is no way in hell you ever read the actual case materials, the question is which Neo-Nazi site can you link to pretend you did?

  • and you, Otto, should learn more about the leo frank case . at best you seem to rely on jaundiced, one sided reports of the case . to the contrary the evidence was shaky enough that the governor took the death penalty off the table at the time, and in recent years the georgia board of pardons granted frank a pardon as georgia failed in its responsibility to keep frank safe so his appeals to higher courts could have happened.

    the governor noted at the time that he had not given a full pardon to frank as he was certain that frank would have won in the appeals .

    yet you with an arrogance, that seems only to grow in some quite distant in time and place, tell us you know he was guilty .

    you were able to goad jeanettefriedman into deep anger . but you have not made your case in the least . and you deserve the anger directed at you .

  • Bull! I’m a liberal and I see the changes and with whom the Democrats now align themselves and it disgusts me. BLM, Women’s March, etc. I find myself disagreeing with some of the SPLC’s designations of hate groups.

  • I see nothing “ALT” about BLM or Women’s March. They are fairly middle of the road liberal protest groups by all objective standards.

    ” I find myself disagreeing with some of the SPLC’s designations of hate groups.”

    And…? So does some of the left. Especially when it comes to the sore subject of “Ex-Muslims”. Its a point of debate, not grounds for exclusion. Unlike say a Republican who is pro-choice, anti-NRA, or critical of the Religious Right.

  • my assumption as “Otto” does not show his past comments and has done an average of 28 comments a day .

    tells us that he has little substance and doesn’t want to be responsible for any of it .

  • But it was only subsequent to his more harrowing efforts that Mr. Brooks was able to exercise that ridicule, and admirably so.

  • The whole reason behind this is that most “civil rights” groups/people are pro-Palestinian thereby anti-Israeli (Jewish). They would like us to believe that it is not about the Jewish people, but it is and it is one of the many hypocrisies the left will not see. Their whole victim based philosophy is a pyramid scheme where one day they will denounce those they once professed to support. It’s quite sobering when you finally see it and understand them. It’s turned me away from the whole lot of them, and I no longer support the current manifestation of the alt-left or most of the left for that matter.

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