Middle East Monitor / September 13, 2023
A coalition of over 300 rabbis has denounced the efforts to politicize anti-Semitism by pro-Israel groups. The Central Rabbinical Congress criticized Zionist organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for cynically exploiting concerns about anti-Semitism to shield Israel from accountability.
“The Torah is the Jewish people’s sole authority, and therefore the ADL and such organizations do not speak for the Jewish people,” said the rabbis. “They do what is beneficial for their agenda and not necessarily for the Jews.” Nevertheless, they insisted that, “Boycotts, sanctions and the like are not the way of the Torah; they run against our Jewish character.”
The rabbis’ coalition condemned the ADL’s public spat with Elon Musk as conflating political dissent with bigotry. “As American Jews, we are deeply opposed to politicizing anti-Semitism.”
Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter) threatened to take legal action against the US-based ADL after blaming the influential NGO for being “ironically the biggest generator of anti-Semitism on this [social media] platform.” Musk also attributed his slumping revenues to the ADL’s lobbying and pressure applied by the pro-Israel group on advertisers.
In the social media storm that followed, Musk was accused of anti-Semitism by pro-Israel advocates. Many accused the billionaire of “victim blaming” and peddling anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish power and influence.
However, the rabbis’ coalition explained that making false charges of anti-Semitism undermines Jewish safety and dignity while benefiting the Israeli government’s agenda of promoting Jewish migration. “Drawing attention to every minor infraction only gives rise to more hatred. The result is a loss for us, and a gain for the Israeli immigration agencies, who benefit from any rise in anti-Semitism in the Jewish Diaspora.”
Insisting that Judaism is a religion, not a form of nationalism, the rabbis said: “The Zionist movement arose with a goal of transforming Jews and Judaism into nationalism. For this they created a sovereign state, a state language and a culture. Naturally, this is painful for traditional Jews to see. Thus, Judaism demands that we show our disapproval of this movement.”
The rabbis affirmed the democratic right of all people, including Jews, to criticize freely the policies of any country, including Israel. “Equating such criticism with anti-Semitism brazenly undermines free speech,” they argued.