A protester holds a sign reading "Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism"
A protester holds a sign reading "Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism" during a November 4, 2023 demonstration in Berlin.
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

ADL Report Decried for Equating Anti-Zionism With Antisemitism

"This is a well-documented strategy by the pro-Israel camp to weaponize antisemitism to shield Israel from accountability," said one critic.

The Anti-Defamation League came under fire Wednesday after publishing a report that significantly expanded the group's definition of antisemitic incidents to include demonstrations against Israel's U.S.-backed genocidal war on Gaza.

"For the first time, the ADL is counting pro-Palestinian rallies that do not feature overt hostility toward Jews in its count of antisemitic incidents," Jewish Daily Forward antisemitism reporter Arno Rosenfeld noted on social media in response to the organization's new report, which lists what it claims are 3,283 anti-Jewish occurrences in the United States in the three months after the Hamas-led attacks on Israel that left more than 1,100 Israelis and others dead and over 200 others taken hostage.

That three-month figure tops every full-year total except 2022 and represents a 360% increase over the same period a year ago. In an embargoed statement viewed by Rosenfeld, ADL national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that the tally highlights a threat to Jews that's "unprecedented in modern history."

Antisemitic—and Islamophobic—incidents have undoubtedly surged in the wake of the October 7 attacks and Israel's bloody collective punishment in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, in which more than 90,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing. However, critics accuse the ADL and many other pro-Israel groups and individuals of conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

In a statement to the Forward, the ADL acknowledged that its report includes pro-Palestine protests at which "anti-Zionist chants and slogans" were observed. Rosenfeld said that these events appeared to account for 1,317—or over 40%—of the total incidents in the report.

Zionism is the settler-colonial movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. A growing number of Jewish Americans are rejecting Zionism for what critics say are its inherent racism, settler-colonialism, and the illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and genocide perpetrated by Israel in the name of divine right and favor. Jewish Americans and groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow have been at the forefront of pro-Palestine demonstrations since October 7.

"Today you will see many journalists and pundits promoting a number: 360%. It is from the ADL's report on the increase of antisemitism," Yonah Lieberman, co-founder of the Jewish-led peace group IfNotNow, wrote on social media Wednesday. "While antisemitism has risen, the number is vastly inflated because of the ADL's intentional conflation between anti-Israel and antisemitism."

"This is a well-documented strategy by the pro-Israel camp to weaponize antisemitism to shield Israel from accountability," Lieberman added.

IfNotNow co-founder Simone Zimmerman wrote: "There is no doubt that antisemitism in America has increased since October 7th. What is dubious is the reliability of data published by the ADL, who repeatedly makes clear that they care more about criminalizing pro-Palestinian speech and activism than fighting real antisemitism."

Hadar Susskind, president and CEO of the left-wing nonprofit Americans for Peace Now, said that "two things can be true at the same time. Antisemitic incidents have greatly increased, and the ADL is not a reliable source of determining what is or is not antisemitism."

Last month, just 13 U.S. House Democrats and one Republican voted against a resolution conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

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