The Troubling History of the ADL

Emmaia Gelman and Lara Kiswani talk about the little-known history of the Anti-Defamation League and why progressive groups have launched an information campaign to publicize the ADL’s history of surveilling and undermining marginalized groups. More than 200 groups have signed on to the Drop the ADL Campaign, which seeks to discourage progressive groups from working with an organization that is far different from what it purports to be. The author of an article in the Boston Review called “The Anti-Defamation League Is Not What It Seems,” Gelman is one of the organizers of the campaign as is Lara Kiswani, the director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Committee. They discuss how an organization focused on combatting anti-Semitism has over the years seeded bigotry and discrimination against Arab-Americans, blacks, queers and other minorities. The ADL is not a social justice organization, they contend; it is a foreign policy organization dedicated to upholding Israeli and U.S. state power and hostile to the democratic and human rights of any and all groups in this country that challenge its fiercely Zionist agenda.

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