Jonathan Greenblatt, the Obama vet chosen to lead the ADL, has been an unmitigated disaster. He’s jettisoned what little Jewish civil rights and pro-Israel commitments the old ADL had, while trying to chase intersectionality, turning the ADL into a dime store SPLC.
Greenblatt failed to win over the Left and very blatantly alienated the Right.
But these latest accusations from the Zionist Organization of America are truly shocking.
Indeed, Greenblatt sees institutional memory itself as an obstacle. In May, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations convened a panel to hear complaints by three member groups: the ADL, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the Zionist Organization of America. ADL and HIAS brought complaints about the ZOA’s criticism of their work. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Greenblatt “submitted to the Presidents Conference a six-page letter and an Excel sheet with 36 complaints against ZOA dating back to 2007.”
He wanted the Presidents Conference to muzzle criticism of those who said the ADL was losing its way.
ZOA’s complaint was far more serious. It alleged that after a 2016 panel discussion on BDS at the United Nations, Greenblatt was so angry about criticism of his ADL that he physically accosted the ZOA’s Liz Berney. She told JTA that Greenblatt “came up to my right side, put his arm around my back, grabbed me with his left hand on my left shoulder. He starts pushing me with the force of his arm down the hall. I was trying to get away from him, and he was restraining me.” Berney said Greenblatt brought her to the Iraqi and Syrian missions and yelled that they—not ADL—were the real enemy. Greenblatt and the ADL unequivocally denied the allegation, though JTA spoke to six people to whom Berney related the story right after it happened.
Here’s the damning part of the JTA account.
JTA spoke to six people who said Berney described the event to them, on the day of the U.N. meeting or within two days of it. None actually witnessed it. All but one recalled her describing Greenblatt gripping her while guiding her to the office; one recalled only that Berney described an altercation. Two of those interviewed, Klein and Susan B. Tuchman, are ZOA staffers. The others spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared reprisals within the Jewish organizational world
The odds are good that Berney commiserated with other women afterward, some of whom hold positions in the Jewish non-profit sector, but are terrified of being seen as being on the right.
This wouldn’t be the first time leftist men have attacked pro-Israel Jewish women. The number of such incidents by prominent men is genuinely shocking. And there tend to be zero consequences.
Chaim Seidler-Feller continues to be a respected figure and a signatory to numerous anti-Israel letters despite admitting fault.
A prominent local rabbi has apologized to a Jewish writer who alleged in a lawsuit that he attacked and injured her after they argued about Middle East politics, the Jewish Journal and Daily Bruin both reported last week.
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, who is currently on sabbatical from his post as director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life at UCLA, apologized to Rachel Neuwirth as part of a settlement reportedly reached last month.
In addition to the apology, Neuwirth and her attorney told the newspapers, there was a “substantial” cash settlement by the rabbi and Hillel, the actual amount of which is confidential.
In the letter, Seidler-Feller wrote:
“I am deeply sorry that I hit, kicked, and scratched you and called you a liar. By taking these unprovoked actions, I have contradicted the pluralism, peace and tolerance about which I so often preach. I have also violated the humanitarian teachings of Judaism regarding kindness and respect for others that I am bound to uphold. “
He added that he was taking “100% responsibility” for his actions.
This time around there will also be no consequences. Unless the ADL is actually held accountable.