ADL incensed at criticism
Yesterday afternoon I received an irate phone call from Anti-Defamation League spokesman Todd Gutnick. He was incensed that I had written such a critical piece on the ADL. I asked him what his specific gripe was. He said, "Well, for starters, it wasn't a 'press release.' It was a 'media advisory." Ah, I see. But really, not so much.
Then he insisted that the invitation to reporters to consult with ADL experts on "right-wing extremists" was justified. He claimed that it was ridiculous not to see the connection between right-wing extremists and anti-Semitism. But do the Arizona shootings have anything to do with anti-Semitism? Oh no, he assured me. In fact, the ADL has issued a statement saying the shootings have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
Now I'm confused again. If the mass murder did not have anything to do with anti-Semitism and can't be linked to right-wing (or any) political rhetoric, why then is the ADL using the opportunity to peddle its experts? Gutnick said, indignantly, "People are interested in our work, and we consider this part of our work." He said the ADL is talking to lots of journalists. I bet.
But it is obvious what is going on here. By tying the shooting to its own expertise in combating rightwing extremism, the ADL is promoting the view -- and certainly feeding the left's storyline -- that conservatives are to blame for the tragedy.
A conservative pro-Israel activist is flabbergasted. He told me that the ADL "is voluntarily defining itself as WAY left. Why is that good for them? How does that help them? The Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, B'nai Brith and AIPAC are all so much more careful."
Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is similarly appalled. He e-mailed me: "At a time when everyone is calling for civility and a change in the public discourse, sadly, the ADL itself is playing to the worst kind of fear-mongering by trying to link the tragic events in Arizona to conservative groups. It's sad and disappointing that the ADL would engage in this. Rather than leading by example, the ADL is engaging in precisely the kind of behavior that we are trying to avoid now. With no facts or evidence to back up their narrative that Loughner was driven by conservative ideology, the ADL should be part of helping the nation heal rather than inflaming people's passions further."
One additional note: I received a number of e-mails from mainstream journalists on the piece. To a person, they were all shocked by the ADL "media advisory." Perhaps the ADL just doesn't get it. Perhaps the group is so insulated that it doesn't even realize its own actions are feeding the blame game. Or, then again, perhaps the group is so desperate to remain relevant that it doesn't mind insinuating a false connection between Jared Loughner and right-wing ideology.
| January 12, 2011; 9:36 AM ET
Categories: Arizona shooting
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