Jonathan Greenblatt, the Obama official who was chosen to head up the ADL, has been a complete disaster. Instead of fighting anti-Semitism, he's now mainly in the news for attacking Republican presidential candidates. And he decided to top that by penning an anti-BDS essay that is heavily sympathetic to BDS.
Greenblatt can't straightforwardly defy his organization's donors by endorsing BDS, but what he does say is very troubling and a departure from the ADL's positions on Israel.
"Think Twice Before Jumping on the BDS Bandwagon," is Greenblatt's title. While the ADL used to condemn BDS as bigoted, Jonathan Greenblatt describes it as due to "frustration with the stalemate that has taken hold between Israelis and Palestinians."
Greenblatt even states that, "The belief that Israel, as the occupier and stronger party, needs to act, combined with the appeal of an ostensibly non-violent movement like BDS — one that worked so well to bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa — makes for a compelling case for action."
I'm sure that BDS activists will be quoting that sentence. A lot.
Jonathan Greenblatt hedges. There are a lot of "buts" mixed in. He argues that the PLO is at fault. But so is Israel.
"The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not an issue purely demarcated along racial lines. It is a national conflict between two peoples, a conflict for which each side bears responsibilities."
"the stark truth of several rounds of failed negotiations reveals mutual culpability in the current status quo. And the ongoing incitement of the Palestinian leadership contributes as much if not more to the diminishing public will and widening diplomatic impasse as the actions of the Israeli government."
Israel is at fault. So is the PLO. Maybe the terrorists are more at fault. Maybe Israel is. Who knows. Not the ADL's new boss. Who goes on to praise BDS bigots and J Street.
"But many who are swept up in its currents do not look closely at the desired end-state of the BDS movement. Many envision a scenario in which Israel, compelled by pressure, would be more forthcoming to the Palestinians and ideally a two-state solution could result. One might not agree with this logic, but we should note that, at least among many young Jews, it is animated by a desire for justice. I believe it has impelled groups such as J Street and a number of other emerging grassroots initiatives in the Jewish community. Even if we disagree, even we should acknowledge the earnestness of their motives."
Should we? Should we also acknowledge the earnestness of the motives of ISIS recruits? Or the KKK? Or the Nation of Islam?
And the hedging is truly impressive. "One might not agree with the logic" of BDS, Greenblatt suggests. The default state might be to agree with it. And even if you disagree with the bigots smashing Jewish store windows and reviving the Nazi boycott of the Jews, please remember that it's "animated by a desire for justice".
And "we should acknowledge the earnestness of their motives."
Yes, this is what the ADL looks like now.
"The BDS movement has been able to capitalize on attracting to its ranks many who legitimately seek a lasting peace between the Israel and the Palestinians," Greenblatt writes.
Again, this is a significant break from the Foxman era at the ADL.
Then Jonathan Greenblatt praises Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl and their call for a boycott of Israel which ranted about "Jewish chauvinism".
"These professors, Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl published an article in theWashington Post endorsing boycott as a way to pressure Israel in its policies toward the Palestinians. Self-described “life-long Zionists” seeking a two-state outcome, their endorsement of the boycott represents well a variation of the “pressure school” which seeks through pressure to change Israel’s behavior and approach to negotiations... Regardless of the validity of their ideas — and I have deep doubts over the ability to achieve their desired outcome through one-sided penalties against Israel..."
Again, Greenblatt defends those who promote BDS while he mildly quibbles with BDS. He does get around to stating that the goal of BDS is the destruction of Israel. But before he gets there he has managed to make all sorts of excuses for it and even to offer praise for BDS proponents. He claims that the majority of BDS supporters don't understand that they're campaigning for the destruction of Israel. I rather suspect that they do.
"That is why ADL has joined with the Reut Institute in a new effort aimed at examining the entire array of factors driving the growth of BDS campaigns, an initiative that will help parse those who are genuinely committed to peace — even if their views are different from our own as to how to get there — from those who mean to inflict grave harm."
Jonathan Greenblatt is normalizing and mainstreaming hostility to Israel even while pretending to fight it. We are seeing the J Street U tactic of Soft BDS, fighting BDS by endorsing attacks on Israel, jumping over into the ADL.