WASHINGTON D.C. — Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that there had been a substantial rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and linked that rise to President Donald Trump and his supporters.
In his written testimony, ADL Chief Jonathan Greenblatt stated:
Nearly 30 percent of all [2016 anti-Semitic] incidents (369) occurred in November and December 2016, spiking immediately after the election. Our Audit includes 34 incidents linked directly to the election. For example, in Denver, graffiti posted in May 2016 said “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” In November, a St. Petersburg, Fla., man was accosted by someone who told him “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.” Much of the vandalism and harassment used slogans sourced from the Trump campaign such as “Make America Great Again.”
Greenblatt omitted any the anti-Semitism perpetrated by Democrats in the 2016 election, including Democratic National Committee (DNC) discussions to target Clinton’s opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for a being a Jew, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton embracing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization, whose platform accuses Israel of “genocide.” (Indeed, Greenblatt’s statement ignored BLM altogether.)
Referring to the 2016 election, Greenblatt noted:
We saw a level of anti-Semitism and a normalization of bigotry that deeply concerned us. This included stereotyping of many groups, including women and immigrants, threats to ban Muslims from entering or living in the country, pronouncements that Islam “hates” America, mocking of disabled people, and political candidates attacking one another based on their physical appearance.
Moreover, the subsequent denial or dismissal of such rhetoric by the candidates and their supporters was unlike anything we have seen in recent history.
Greenblatt also blamed Trump and his supporters, over Muslim extremists and white supremacists, for the rise in anti-Semitism in America, saying:
The majority of anti-Semitic incidents and other hate crimes are not carried out by extremists or organized hate groups. But the extraordinarily polarizing and divisive election campaign — which featured harshly anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti- Semitic dog whistles — has coarsened the public discourse and fostered an atmosphere in which white supremacists and other anti-Semites and bigots feel emboldened and believe that their views are becoming more broadly acceptable.
The campaign’s repeated flirtation with these elements — retweeting their content and quoting their heroes — and the President’s initial reluctance to address rising anti-Semitism, have helped to mainstream their ideas.
Greenblatt also appeared to accuse Trump and his followers of fueling “a resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States.”
Meanwhile, Greenblatt said almost nothing about anti-Semitism on campus, including anti-Semitism associated with anti-Israel activism.
Citing the ADL’s recently released 2016 audit, Greenblatt told senators that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States last year “increased by more than one-third in 2016, to a total of 1,266 acts targeting Jews and Jewish institutions.”
The ADL’s data stand in stark contrast to data released last month by the global experts at Tel Aviv University in Israel, who documented only a slight increase in violent anti-Semitic incidents, and concluded that there were “no indications so far of a major increase connected to the tense U.S. election or Donald Trump’s new presidency.” (Indeed, the ADL’s own audit concedes that violent anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. fell last year.)
The ADL chose to include hundreds of fake bomb threats aimed at Jewish community centers — even though the vast majority of those threats were perpetrated by a Jewish, Israeli-American teen as a hoax. The ADL tries to justify the inclusion of that data as follows:
Some have questioned whether these truly should be counted as anti-Semitic incidents because of the identity of the suspect. ADL does so because of the impact such threats had on the Jewish community. We never know the faith or nationality of someone when they are wearing a white hood or hiding behind their computer. But regardless of the alleged culprit, systematically targeting institutions of only one faith and terrorizing the members of that community bears all the hallmarks of hate crime.
The ADL gives no credit to President Trump for prioritizing the investigation into the bomb threats, even though they had been going on for two years, dating back well into President Barack Obama’s administration.
Echoing Greenblatt, fellow congressional witness Vanita Gupta, the incoming president and CEO of the Leadership Conference For Civil And Human Rights, also blamed Trump supporters for the rise in hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, and immigrants.
Like the ADL director, Gupta, who served as former President Barack Obama’s top civil rights prosecutor overseeing federal hate crimes prosecutions at DOJ, suggested Trump supporters are primarily responsible for the rise in the number of nationwide hate crimes.