Lobby Watch 29 June 2020
For those who yearn for an end to systemic racism, these are exhilarating times as Black activists and organizations lead a global uprising against symbols and structures of white supremacy.
But if you are a racist group masquerading as a civil rights organization, these days are fraught with the danger that you’ll get found out.
It’s a balancing act that has for years bedeviled the Anti-Defamation League, a major Israel lobby group in the United States.
Its counterparts in the UK are facing the same challenge.
The crisis is particularly acute right now as the ADL tries to portray itself as an ally of Black Lives Matter while also shielding Israel from criticism over its plans to annex Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, further entrenching the system of apartheid.
A leaked memo obtained last week by Jewish Currents writer Josh Leifer highlights the dilemma of ADL leaders.
The memo sets out how the lobby group can, in Leifer’s words: “find a way to defend Israel from criticism without alienating other civil rights organizations, elected officials of color and Black Lives Matter activists and supporters.”
The gist of the strategy is to allow some soft criticism of Israel while fending off more precise and accurate descriptions of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights as “apartheid” and “separate but equal” – the latter a term long used to whitewash violently enforced, legalized racial segregation and subjugation in the United States.
The authors of the memo fear that a clash with progressive forces over annexation could put ADL on the “wrong side” of the Black Lives Matter movement and “challenge relationships between ADL and many civil rights organizations and coalitions.”
It is ironic that the ADL fears Israel being associated with apartheid.
While the Israeli-armed South African apartheid regime was still destroying Black lives in that country in the 1980s and 1990s, the ADL ran a massive spy ring in the United States.
As well as infiltrating Palestine solidarity groups, the ADL spy passed on confidential files about anti-apartheid activists to South Africa’s brutal intelligence agency.
The latest ADL leak confirms concerns that were revealed in a private report obtained by The Electronic Intifada in 2017.
That report – jointly written by the ADL and the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank – lamented that Palestinian rights campaigners have been “able to frame the Palestinian struggle against Israel as part of the struggle of other disempowered minorities, such as African Americans, Latinos and the LGBTQ community.”
The report recommended that Zionist groups try to disrupt this dynamic by “Partnering with other minority communities based on shared values and common interests such as on criminal justice reform, immigration rights or in fighting against racism and hate crimes.”
Today the ADL sees Black Lives Matter as a chance to burnish its “civil rights” street cred while advancing its anti-Palestinian agenda […]