Thursday, August 05, 2021

Jonathan Greenblatt's Epiphany

ADL CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt (JNS)
I have had my issues with ADL Chief, Jonathan Greenblatt. Greenblatt, a Democrat and  former member of the Obama administration has impeccable left wing credentials. As such he has focused the ADL’s attention on right wing antisemitism. 

The ADL is given near iconic status by the mainstream media as the premier organization that not only fights antisemitism, but actually defines it! So when its CEO says it’s a huge problem on the right, and not such a huge problem on the left… not surprisingly the mainstream media happily takes it as gospel.

Let me first acknowledge that the antisemitism on the part of right wing extremists has been responsible for a lot of the more deadly antisemitic attacks over the last few years. Most notably the Eitz Chaim Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh where a lone extremist right wing gunman murdered 11 Jews. 

There can be no doubt about right wing antisemitism. It’s real; it is dangerous; and it has not gone away. But the antisemitism of the left should not be minimized. It exists in spades. Often disguised as anti Zionism. So, for example,  when  someone on the left accuses Israel of Apartheid; Nazi-like atrocities, or even genocide he can always pull out the ‘anti-Zionism card’ and get a free pass. 

In an unexpected move, Jonathan Greenblatt has finally admitted that the antisemitism of the left is a real problem too. In a Newsweek op-ed he listed a number of incidents and rhetoric by the left – including a few fellow Democrats in congress - and called them all out as antisemitic. To use the title of his piece, ‘It’s time to admit it, the left has an antisemitism problem’. 

All I can say is ‘Finally!’ Is about time Jonathan had that epiphany and recognized that it’s a real problem. 

What he said is something most of us already know.  One would have to be intentionally blind, deaf, and dumb, not to. Apparently those distinctions belongs to the left. Until now. I for one am glad to hear it. And I thank Jonathan for finally having the courage to come out and say so. Better late than never. 

And yet there are those among us that find it necessary to harshly criticize him anyway. It’s almost as though a Democrat can never be given any credit by the right. Finding it necessary to find fault with even such an amazing turn around. This is where I differ with Ruthie Blum. I think its safe to say that we are both on the same page with respect to antisemitism in this country. But we are not on the same page with criticizing Greenblatt. 

Apparently Ms. Blum does not believe in Teshuva – the concept of admitting one is wrong and by inference apologizing for not saying so sooner. She calls his epiphany about left wing antisemtism disingenuous. Which is another word for a lie. I don’t see how she can say that. Her major complaint as I understand it is that his epiphany is so obvious to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention, that doing so now is practically meaningless. Not only that, by virtue of touting his left wing credentials he has not really changed his attitude at all. 

I agree with her criticism of his equating antisemitism with all other forms of group prejudices. Antisemitism is a unique form of prejudice that has been with us in deadly ways ever since we became a people at Sinai. Far more than any other group. No where was this more evident than during the Holocaust. We should not be putting all ‘group hatreds’ in a single ‘package’. But that is a relatively minor point compared to the major admission of antisemitism in his own camp. 

Jonathan is not suddenly going to abandon his left wing credentials and become a conservative Republican. He is clearly a dyed in the wool liberal Democrat and will remain so. However, instead of criticizing him for this belated epiphany, I give him credit for admitting the truth despite those credentials. That is something that should be appreciated and not condemned. 

I therefore want to thank Jonathan Greenblatt for the courage to face his fellow left wing travelers and finally recognize the truth.