On the first day of the DNC, there was an event held by the pro-BDS group known as “the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.” At this event (similar ones were nowhere to be found at the RNC), a U.S. Congressman spoke out against “Jewish people who come in to claim that land just because somebody [else] did not spend the night there.”
Rep. Hank Johnson, from Georgia, called Israeli settlers “termites” and, according to Adam Kredo, a reporter for The Washington Free Beacon, gave his speech to a crowd that agreed with what he had to say.
To be fair to the Congressman, it’s almost hard to criticize him for saying what he said. Johnson has proven in the past that he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, including that time in 2011 when he expressed his concern at a hearing that Guam, a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, would “become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” (No, I’m not making that up.)
But this little incident, and the subsequent mini-firestorm that surrounded it, exposed a more disturbing truth, and an important one to be aware of, at that.
Shortly after the remarks were reported, the ADL addressed them by tweeting that it was “an offensive and unhelpful characterization.” Just to get an idea of what an understatement that is, in denouncing Donald Trump’s campaign rollout they (rightfully) criticized him for using rhetoric they called “hate speech and stereotyping” and “called on him to stop spreading misinformation and fomenting hatred…”
That’s a double standard if there’s ever been one.
Perhaps seeing that the condemnation wasn’t so severe, Johnson “apologized” by saying (also in a tweet) that it was a “poor choice of words.” This was enough for the ADL, which (again, in a tweet) said “we appreciate… [his] clarification.”
The ensuing mini-uproar meant that Johnson had to “apologize” again, personally, to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt — as though he were the offended one, instead of a contributor to the offense. And, with that, the ADL hopes to put the issue to bed.
But it hasn’t been put to bed, and it shouldn’t be. What Johnson said was despicable, and any decent person ought to be able to recognize that it is indicative of more than just a “poor choice of words.” Accepting that kind of excuse is, indeed, an important clarification, but not a clarification as to Johnson’s thinking. It’s a clarification as to the way the ADL thinks.
You see, there’s a reason the ADL condemned Donald Trump (and Republicans) to a degree that they wouldn’t dream of condemning a Democrat — even if one calls Jews “termites” and levels false accusations which perpetuate anti-Semitic notions.
It’s because the ADL isn’t a Jewish organization as much as it is a progressive one.
Hiding behind and exploiting their Jewishness to advance their partisan agenda, the ADL picks and chooses battles they wish to fight; the battles they fight will, more often than not, have less to do with Judaism than progressivism. If a right-wing politician uses a “poor choice of words”, they will condemn the anti-Semitic language, but when a left-wing one does, they thank him for the clarification.
Think about it. Just a few years ago, when the Supreme Court issued a ruling (Hobby Lobby v. Burwell) which kept alive the protections of religious people to engage in commerce, the ADL condemned it.
When the National Basketball Association penalized the state of North Carolina for enacting laws to safeguard basic decency (on an issue Dayan Chaim Kohn has written about in these pages), they applauded the NBA.
When the Supreme Court ruled that infanticide is a “basic right” that must not be infringed upon in any way, they “hailed” the ruling as a “win.”
And while they were accepting the clarification and apology of Hank Johnson for his disgusting words, they issued a press release (which they did not do for l’affaire Johnson) condemning the passage of a law in Israel which would effectively stop Reform and Conservative Jews from using mikva’os for their “conversions.” They called that law, which will help maintain a minimum standard for conversions, “discriminatory” and an “insult.”
Because what matters for the ADL is not that minimum standards for conversions be preserved, that basic human decency be encouraged, that every life — no matter how small — be protected, or that the rights of religious people to practice their religion not be threatened.
What matters for them is protecting something else entirely. A different religion. The religion of progressivism.