20 November 2023
From apartheid South Africa to Elon Musk, defending Israel is more important than fighting anti-Semitism.
On Wednesday, an obscure social media account with the handle @breakingbaht posted a statement spreading the all-too-familiar “Great Replacement” theory: the conspiracy fiction that diaspora Jews are fueling mass immigration of non-white people to the West. Are. Destroy the white race. Writing on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, @breakingbaht Tweeted, “Jewish communities are promoting exactly the same kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim they want people to stop using against them. The Western Jewish population is now coming to the disturbing realization that the minority crowd that supports the influx into their country doesn’t actually like them very much.
Elon Musk, by some accounts the world’s richest man and owner of X, responded to the campaign with enthusiasm, Tweet“You have spoken absolutely the truth.”
Many were troubled to see a powerful man like Musk, whose company Tesla is a pioneer in the field of electric vehicles, still control the powerful social site . Within days of his tweet, major companies—notably IBM, Apple, Comcast, and Disney—began closing their advertising accounts with X.
Musk underlined this point by attacking the Jewish civil rights group Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on similar lines. Two hours after agreeing to @breakingbaht, Musk Tweeted, “The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the vast majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, in accordance with their principles, criticize the minority groups that are the primary threat to them.”
Yet Musk soon found an unexpected savior in ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Initially, Greenblatt was critical of Musk. He Tweeted on Thursday“At a time when anti-Semitism is exploding in America and rising around the world, using one’s influence to validate and promote anti-Semitic principles is undeniably dangerous.”
But Greenblatt has long been of two opinions about Musk, occasionally scolding him (as in the tweet above), but also trying to win Musk’s favor. A perverse example of this came last year when he bizarrely praised Musk, calling him “an amazing entrepreneur and extraordinary innovator.” He is the Henry Ford of our time.” Henry Ford, as Greenblatt has strangely forgotten, was a notorious anti-Semite and fascist fellow traveler.
On Friday, just two days after Musk openly praised anti-Semitism, the billionaire Tweeted, “As I said earlier this week, ‘decolonization’, ‘from river to sea’ and similar euphemisms inevitably imply genocide. Explicit calls for extreme violence are against our Terms of Service and will result in suspension.
Greenblatt’s performance here may seem surprising. After all, the ADL defines its mission as “preventing defamation of the Jewish people and ensuring justice and fair treatment for all.” Musk has a long history of racism and transphobia that goes far beyond his tweets last week. How can Musk possibly be considered to be showing “leadership in fighting hate”?
The answer, of course, is Israel. The ADL is not only an anti-racist and anti-Semitic organization, but also a fierce supporter of Israeli nationalism. And the ADL has repeatedly shown that when the pressure increases, it will abandon the fight against bigotry to support what it sees in Israel’s best interests.
As New Yorker Author Isaac Chotiner summed up“The most prominent organization fighting anti-Semitism in America would applaud your ‘leadership in fighting hate’ 24 hours after you endorsed disgusting neo-Nazi anti-Semitism…if you had taken a stronger stance against critics of Israel Are.”
This type of selective forgiveness of anti-Semitism on the part of Zionism is hardly unique to the ADL. The recent March for Israel rally in Washington featured as guest speaker John Hagee, a notorious anti-Semitic preacher of apocalyptic Christianity.
The ADL was formed in 1913 following the arrest of Leo Frank, a Jewish man falsely convicted of the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl. Frank was lynched in Georgia in 1915. For several decades, the group was at the forefront of fighting not only anti-Semitism but all forms of racism. But like many centrist and liberal Jewish organizations, the ADL changed its politics after the Six-Day War of 1967, when it became clear that Israel would face increasing pressure from liberals and leftists over the annexation of the large Palestinian population. From that point on, the ADL began to view leftist and pro-Palestinian organizations as the principal enemies.
In the 1980s, as reported in a 2014 article by Mark Ames pacific standard, Chip Burlett, a reporter who specializes in covering the far right, met with Irwin Suall, one of the ADL’s leading researchers. Berlet was hoping for a friendly exchange of information about anti-Semitic agitator Lyndon LaRouche. Instead, Sual filled out information about Berlet and one of his co-workers, indicating that the ADL had carefully monitored their left-wing political activism. This was an indication of why Sual was not eager to work with him. Sual summarized the organization’s politics by saying,
“The right wing is not the problem. The left is the problem. The Soviet Union is the world’s biggest problem for the Jews. It is the American left that poses the greatest threat to American Jews. You are on the wrong path. You’re part of the problem.”
Elon Musk was born in 1971 in apartheid South Africa. As it happens, the most obvious past example of the ADL’s support for radicalization involves South Africa.
In fighting the left, both Israel and the ADL began to view the apartheid regime in South Africa as an important ally. In 1976, Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres hosted a visit from South African Prime Minister B.J. Vorster, who was a commander in the pro-Nazi group in the 1930s.
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The ADL joined a barely secret alliance with South Africa. I am writing foreign policy In 2010, Glenn Frankel, a former Washington Post The reporter summarized the history: “The Anti-Defamation League engaged in a blatant propaganda campaign against Nelson Mandela and the ANC in the mid-1980s and hired an alleged ‘fact-taker’ named Roy Bullock to spy on the anti-apartheid campaign. The United States – a service it was simultaneously performing for the South African government. The ADL condemned the ANC as ‘totalitarian, anti-humanitarian, anti-democratic, anti-Israel and anti-American’ While defending the alleged constitutional reforms of white rule.
Bullock, an ADL researcher working with assets in the FBI and several police departments, had collected a vast file on American activists, politicians, and organizations. His files, which contained sensitive information, spanned more than 12,000 individuals and 950 groups. In 1992, Sual described Bullock as the ADL’s “number one investigator.”
Ames, who herself was spied on by the ADL for her anti-apartheid activism, noted in 2014,
By 1986, relations between Israel and South Africa had become so close that the ADL was regularly sharing confidential files with the South African Bureau of State Security, that country’s version of the Gestapo. The files contained detailed information about Californians who opposed apartheid. Then there was the file on Representative Ron Dellums, who was the head of the House Armed Services Committee and an African-American from Oakland. After the scam was exposed, an ADL employee admitted Los Angeles Times Spying on a black American Congressman for a racist foreign government was “not the most political thing to do.”
Ames describes in detail how malicious the ADL’s spying was, including this case: “The ADL spy ring also helped lead to the arrest of eight Los Angeles Muslims – seven Palestinian men and a Kenyan woman – in 1987 , who were falsely accused of supporting terrorism and ordered expelled from the United States. SWAT teams broke into the defendants’ homes, detaining them without charge or trial , and the group, known as the ‘Los Angeles Eight’, faced an ordeal that ended in 2007, when a Los Angeles judge ultimately dismissed all charges and condemned . This case is ‘a festering wound on the defendants and an embarrassment to the rule of law.’
None of this is ancient history. As reported by James Bamford Nation On Friday, ADL Today is working with pro-Israel groups that are spying on American students and activists.
Anti-Semitism remains a serious problem and is growing. But the ADL has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to fight anti-Semitism or racism, because its primary mission is something else: to defend Israel without pause against all criticism.