[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
In August 1991, racist mobs roamed the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, attacking anyone they thought might be Jewish. Black rioters stabbed, stoned and beat their victims. Community members huddled in their homes watching gangs smash their windows. Al Sharpton appeared to denounce the Jews at an event that included the banner, “Hitler did not do the job.”
In August 2023, the ADL ignored the anniversary of the Crown Heights Pogrom and instead joined Sharpton in Washington D.C. The ADL urged its members to take part in Sharpton’s ‘March on Washington’ headlined by his National Action Network and co-chaired by the ADL.
The ADL not only failed to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Crown Heights Pogrom, it partnered with the hatemonger who was front and center at the pogrom. ADL president Jonathan Greenblatt issued a press release together with Al Sharpton about the recent murder of three people in Florida, while forgetting about the three people who died in Crown Heights.
They include Yankel Rosenbaum, a visiting Australian student, who was surrounded and stabbed to death, Anthony Graziosi, an Italian-American salesman, dragged from his car and murdered because his hat and beard make him look like an Orthodox Jew, and Bracha Estricher, a Holocaust survivor who seeing the thugs pounding on her door committed suicide rather than fall into their hands. Not to mention a woman who suffered a miscarriage after being chased by the mob.
“Hate still exists,” Greenblatt declared in D.C. at an event headlined by the most lucrative bigot who used the Crown Heights Pogrom as a springboard to running for president, becoming a Democratic Party kingmaker, and securing a role as Obama’s envoy. He implied that critics of the ADL’s relationship with Sharpton were practicing “cancel culture”, when what we really needed to do is “embrace them” and “educate them about our history.”
Like the time that Sharpton taunted, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”
The ‘March on Washington’ was not Greenblatt’s first collaboration with Sharpton. The two men have repeatedly worked together and participated in joint appearances, events and press releases on various leftist causes, often having nothing to do with either Jewish or black issues, such as condemning the Trump administration’s efforts to secure the border in 2018.
But co-chairing an event with Sharpton’s hate group on the 32nd anniversary of the Crown Heights Pogrom is an unforgivable expression of contempt for the victims of the violence. On another August after a mob shouting, “There’s a Jew! Get the Jew! Kill the Jew.”, chased down and killed Yankel Rosenbaum, the ADL boss is eager to dismiss this as a mere matter of “differences”.
While it’s entirely conceivable that Jonathan Greenblatt, an Obama administration veteran ignorant of Jewish issues who steered the ADL into intersectional wokeness, did not know what else Sharpton had done in August (the last time the ADL commemorated the worst antisemitic riot in America history was in 2021), this is not the first time that this has happened.
The ADL and Greenblatt had come under fire for taking part in Sharpton’s ‘March on Washington’ in 2020 some months after BLM riots had targeted Los Angeles synagogues. When the pogrom was first taking place, a rabbi had blasted the ADL for ignoring the violence and instead “issuing a press release about skinheads in Idaho”.
In 2016, Norman Rosenbaum, an Australian prosecutor who had come to America to fight for justice for his murdered brother, condemned the ADL and future New York City Mayor Eric Adams for marking the pogrom with a “community festival” offering fun for all.
After securing a federal civil rights trial for his brother’s killer, who had gotten a pass from a friendly local jury, Rosenbaum passionately held establishment groups like the ADL accountable. When Sharpton was invited to events, he would challenge those who did it, reminding them that, “it completely disregards the pivotal role that Al Sharpton played in inciting the riots which took my brother’s life.”
Norman Rosenbaum passed away in July 2020, freeing up the ADL to work on Sharpton’s March to Washington that year. With him gone, the ADL boss felt no shame in using the 32nd anniversary of the pogrom to party with Sharpton in Washington D.C.
In one of his last messages, Norman Rosenbaum wrote in 2019 that, “It was a mob of about 30 who attacked and murdered Yankel, of which 28 have never been brought to justice. And as he parades around as a supposed leader and champion of civil rights, Sharpton has never once called on his supporters to turn in to law enforcement the remaining 28 people. But that is not a priority in Al Sharpton’s world.”
Nor is it a priority for the ADL.
The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt claimed that he had come with Sharpton to Washington D.C. to stand up for justice. Sharpton has never faced justice, not for Crown Heights, for the Tawana Brawley hoax, or the Freddie’s massacre in Harlem which killed 7 people.
The last time the ADL commemorated the Crown Heights Pogrom was two years ago while refusing to use the correct term “pogrom”, instead choosing to use the media’s distorted politically term “riots” in order to evade the responsibility of the political establishment, including Mayor David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor, in having the police stand down.
The ADL’s press release stated that “one of the enduring lessons of the Crown Heights Riots is in acknowledging the responsibility to confront antisemitism, no matter where it is and who is perpetrating it.” Two years later, the ADL is co-chairing an event with an antisemite who was at the epicenter of the worst antisemitic riot in the nation’s history.
In Washington D.C., Sharpton began his speech with, “No justice, no peace”, the same slogan that he had brought to Crown Heights three decades ago and which Charles Price, who was convicted of inciting the Rosenbaum murder had shouted, along with, “Let’s get the Jews”.
The Jews were on the ground, courtesy of Greenblatt and fading actor Sacha Baron Cohen, most famous for singing “Throw the Jew down the well” in the persona of ‘Borat’. “Many of you are probably wondering what the hell is a white Jewish comedian from England doing here,” he asked, after first opening with a tiresome joke about performing at the Rosenberg bar mitzvah.
“I promise that this is not a prank on you,” he assured the crowd. “It might be one on me.”
That was an adequate summary of Jews showing up to Sharpton’s event.
“Today was a day to show our strength,” Sharpton boasted and vowed to fight for racial preferences in corporations. “We are not going to let you take affirmative action.”
While Sharpton and his allies show their strength, the ADL and the Jewish organizational establishment show their weakness. That is as true today as it was 32 years ago.
The ADL’s actions are not only a moral disgrace, they’re also a betrayal. Why is the ADL joining an antisemite’s campaign in support of racial preferences which primarily discriminate against Asians and Jews? (The successful campaign against affirmative action was waged by Edward Blum, a Jewish conservative, and Asian-American plaintiffs.) What interests are served here?
When the Crown Heights Pogrom took place, the ADL had waited a week and a half to condemn it. Abe Foxman, the ADL’s longtime leader, explained that the group had remained silent in the face of days of antisemitic violence, assault and murder out of “a quest for social justice”. Social justice, or more accurately, leftist politics, is still the priority for the ADL.
Jewish lives don’t matter, social justice does.