The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced Wednesday that it had awarded fellowships of up to $25,000 each to “Jews of Color,” though the Jewish faith recognizes no distinctions of color whatsoever.
We’re excited to announce the inaugural class of Collaborative for Change fellows, Jews of Color who will receive up to $25,000 to counter bias and hate through film, research and other projects. Read about them here: https://t.co/XVhqnsyQ8V
— ADL (@ADL) January 26, 2022
The ADL, which was once widely respected as a non-partisan civil rights organization fighting anti-Jewish prejudice and supporting the broader civil rights movement, has moved to the left under the leadership of former Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt.
“Jews of Color are, unfortunately, often subjected to the dual evils of racism and antisemitism,” Greenblatt said in an official statement on Wednesday. “Through the Collaborative for Change fellowship, we’re proud to provide an opportunity for Jews of Color to share their experiences and increase understanding of the unique challenges they face.”
Though many American Jews are of European origin, Jews come in a variety of “colors,” and include populations from the Middle East and Africa.
There is no theological recognition of race or color, and skin color is barely mentioned in the Bible. The few mentions are generally considered positive: “I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (Song of Solomon / Song of Songs 1:5).
Critics warned that the ADL was playing into a racially essentialist narrative that could hurt the fight against antisemitism:
Dividing the Jewish people by skin color (ie. “Jews of Color” and “White Jews) is profoundly unJewish and destructive. In fact, it is a common tactic of the enemies of the Jewish people and Israel.
Beyond foolish for the ADL to adopt it. https://t.co/3Vff9ho5pI
— Abigail Shrier (@AbigailShrier) January 26, 2022
The ADL’s “Jews of Color” controversy comes a day after another controversy over previous statements by Tema Smith, the ADL’s Director of Jewish Outreach & Partnerships, who claimed that Jewish concerns about black antisemitism were racist:
One of these days we need to talk about how the Jewish community’s reactions to antisemitism coming from Black people is inherently tied to (implicitly racist) fears of Black violence.
— Tema Smith (@temasmith) July 25, 2020
While it is likely true that there are more white perpetrators of antisemitic attacks than black, some recent attacks have taken place in neighborhoods where religious Jews live near black communities, and where there is a history of mutual tension.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.