ADL head smears Tlaib as antisemitic for pointing out Israel blocked ambulances

Michael Arria

Mondoweiss  /  July 5, 2023

Despite clear video evidence and statements from aid groups, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt says Israeli forces blocking Palestinian ambulances is “complete fiction.”

On Monday Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and implied she was antisemitic for criticizing Israel’s deadly invasion of Jenin. He also dismissed evidence that Israel has prohibited Palestinians from receiving medical attention, despite video evidence and testimony from multiple individuals in the area.

“Israeli forces are now blocking ambulances from reaching the dozens of wounded Palestinians after at least eight people were killed in Jenin,” tweeted Tlaib. “Congress must stop funding this violent Israeli apartheid regime.”

In her tweet Tlaib included a video showing a Jenin street being destroyed by the Israeli military. Palestinian officials say the destruction of roads has prevented ambulances from traveling on them.

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“Even for Rashida Tlaib, the level of dishonesty here is truly staggering,” responded Greenblatt. “For starters, it’s a complete fiction. But equally important, this was a targeted action against armed terrorists who brutally murdered innocents, recklessly hid weapons under a mosque and intentionally located their ops center next to a school. But when members of congress knowingly slander the Jewish state in a time of rising anti-Jewish hate, they should be held accountable for fanning the flames and endangering Jewish people everywhere.”

In addition to videos of roads being destroyed and statements from Palestinian officials, aid groups and those living in the Jenin camp have detailed the lack of ambulance access. “I heard bulldozers, and suddenly we saw them destroying the roads leading to the refugee camp to prevent people from leaving or entering it,” one resident told Haaretz. “There are still forces there, and the residents are very afraid. The vast majority aren’t opening their windows…There are wounded people who still haven’t been evacuated from the camp because the medical crews can’t enter.”

In a statement World Health Organization spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said that “first responders have been prevented from entering the refugee camp,” as a result of the restrictions imposed by Israeli forces “including to reach persons who have been critically injured.”

The Palestine Red Crescent reported that Israeli forces had “confiscated” their ambulance keys and mobile phones in Jenin. They were responding to more than 4,000 calls.

Greenblatt faced immediate backlash over the tweet. “Without fail, after every Israeli military assault into a densely populated Palestinian city, after every forced expulsion, after every violation of human rights and international law, the ADL demands accountability for…Rashida Tlaib for tweeting about it,” wrote B’Tselem’s Josh Kadish.

“Come on, surely your years of education did you slightly better than that,” tweeted attorney and author Noura Erakat. “Bulldozing homes, aerial missile strikes, sniping at journalists, impeding medical access is not a ‘targeted action.’ Anti-Palestinian racism makes it 2 easy for you to say ‘terrorist’ and rest your case.”

“Once again, the head of the ADL jumps to smear the only Palestinian member of Congress during an Israeli military attack,” wrote JVP Action’s Beth Miller. “You could listen to his baseless claims, or you could watch the video evidence and hear the reports directly from emergency workers.”

In recent years activists have launched a campaign targeting the ADL over its long history of anti-Palestinian racism and support for racist policing. “We are deeply concerned that the ADL’s credibility in some social justice movements and communities is precisely what allows it to undermine the rights of marginalized communities, shielding it from criticism and accountability while boosting its legitimacy and resources,” read a 2020 open letter to progressives signed by numerous civil society groups. “Even when it may seem that our work is benefiting from access to some resources or participation from the ADL, given the destructive role that it too often plays in undermining struggles for justice, we believe that we cannot collaborate with the ADL without betraying our movements.”

Since taking over the ADL, Greenblatt has consistently attacked anti-Zionists and smeared them as antisemites. “Anti-Zionism as an ideology is rooted in rage,” he told attendees of the ADL’s 2022 National Leadership Summit. “It is predicated on one concept: the negation of another people, a concept as alien to the modern discourse as white supremacy. It requires a willful denial of even a superficial history of Judaism and the vast history of the Jewish people. And, when an idea is born out of such shocking intolerance, it leads to, well, shocking acts.”

Last month, on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Greenblatt suggested that it was antisemitic for people to tweet “Free Palestine” at him. “When I tweet about the weather, or when I tweet about my mom, or in a tweet about anything, the vitriol directed at me from right-wing extremists and radical white supremacists and QAnon enthusiasts, and radical people on the left who say ‘free Palestine’ to me, is really stunning,” he said. “And it is indicative of the deep dysfunction in these platforms.”

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss