WASHINGTON — Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks called out the Anti-Defamation League Wednesday, suggesting that the venerable Jewish organization had unfairly intervened in a political campaign. The ADL, he suggested, had “put their thumb on the scale” when it singled out alleged anti-Semitic messaging by Trump supporters and in campaign material.
Speaking with reporters during an election post-mortem, Brooks said that “we need to have an examination” into the ADL’s statements that it issued in recent months.
“I understand that they are an important watchdog on these things, but it seems to me that at critical times in the course of this campaign, a pattern emerged where the ADL put their thumb on the scale,” Brooks continued.
The ADL’s non-profit tax status precludes it from endorsing a specific candidate for office or intervening in election campaigns. Since the ADL began issuing statements calling out anti-Semitic elements within and around the Trump campaign, some Trump supporters – including neo-Nazi groups – have called for an investigation into abuse of the organization’s tax status.
While the ADL initially called for clarifications by Trump of rhetoric seen as anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican, the Jewish organization’s criticism increased in recent months as Jewish journalists were routinely targeted by Trump supporters.
In October, the organization published a lengthy report describing anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish journalists during the election period. Much of the harassment originated with Twitter accounts held by self-avowed Trump supporters.
The organization largely refrained from direct criticism of Trump or his campaign, but blasted the then Republican candidate’s closing advertisement, which it argued referenced anti-Semitic tropes of Jews controlling politics and the economy. The Trump campaign rebuffed the criticism, telling the ADL to “focus on real anti-Semitism.”
In a statement released as voters completed early voting, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that “whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”
“This needs to stop,” Greenblatt continued. “In the final days before the election, tensions are extremely high. It’s a time when all candidates need to be especially responsible and bid for votes by offering sincere ideas and policy proposals, not by conjuring painful stereotypes and baseless conspiracy theories.”
“I think it bears watching, and I think that the ADL has put itself potentially in a compromising position going forward, in terms of its ability to interact with the incoming administration,” Brooks complained. He implied that Greenblatt, had taken the organization in a direction different from that under the ADL’s longtime former leader, Abraham Foxman.
Earlier Wednesday, the ADL congratulated Trump on his victory, but stressed that “work begins today to reinvigorate the idealism of e Pluribus Unum and to ensure that America remains a land of economic opportunity and personal freedom for all people regardless of their gender, race, class, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political preference” – a comment that seemed to reference various comments made by Trump seen as disparaging toward women, people with disabilities, Muslims, immigrants and others.