WASHINGTON – Two major left-wing groups issued a stinging denouncement of the Anti-Defamation League’s list of “Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America” Wednesday, arguing that the lineup “exacerbates unnecessary confrontation” in an increasingly polarized Jewish community and that the choice of organizations cited was “shortsighted and unproductive.”
On Monday, the ADL released its annual list of the 10 groups who, according to ADL National Director Abraham Foxman “are the most significant players in the domestic anti-Israel movement today.”
The ADL said that the organizations on the list were selected on the basis of a number of criteria, including “the groups’ ability to organize, sponsor and endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel; their sponsorship of and participation in anti-Israel rallies, panel discussions or conferences; and their ability to pursue anti-Israel policy initiatives and lobbying efforts against Israel.”
“The groups are fixated on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated,” Foxman said.
But left-leaning organizations J Street and the New Israel Fund complained in a release Wednesday that the ADL’s list “exacerbates, rather than quiets, unnecessary confrontation.”
NIF and J Street both oppose the BDS movement, but say that “simply dismissing organizations which seek to end the occupation and resolve its human rights issues by other means – even if we disagree with such means – is taking an easy way out.”
The bulk of the two organizations’ critique, however, focuses on what they claim was a list that included “organizations which truly oppose Israel’s right to exist with others that harshly criticize Israeli government policy,” a move that they described as “shortsighted and unproductive.”
The ADL stated that many of the groups listed “are known to employ rhetoric that is extremely hostile to Israel, Zionists and/or Jews” including “offensive parallels to the Holocaust, calls for the dismantlement of the state of Israel and expressions of support for terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction.”
However, the J Street and NIF memo claims that many of the groups, including CodePink and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, simply made the list for their support of an Israel boycott.
“This is guilt by association and an unfair indictment of an organization that seeks dialogue with our community,” the two organizations said, adding that “issuing such blanket denunciations is ultimately self-defeating.”
Both J Street and the NIF noted that “such condemnations have been issued, and are occasionally still issued, against our own organizations by various self-appointed guardians of ideological purity, who often turn out to be fronting an ultra-nationalist, pro-settlement agenda in Israel.”
The organizations called on the ADL to stop publishing the anti-Israel list in future years.
The groups stated that they “have the deepest respect for the ADL and the important role it has played in combating anti-Semitism and racism in the United States,” but then warned that the organization should “be wary of devaluing the reality of anti-Semitism by applying the charge broadly against political organizations whose aims and tactics it disagrees with or suggesting that vigorous criticism of Israeli policy equates to anti-Semitism.”
They invoked the much-talked-about recent Pew survey of American Judaism, suggesting that such lists could “further alienate the majority of American Jews” who, they argue “care deeply about Israel, but are no longer convinced that Israel or the Palestinians are sincerely searching for peace.”
The ADL did not respond to a request for comment by press time.