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ADL Needs To Stop ‘Jewsplaining’ To African-American Political Leaders – OpEd

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Apparently, some Jewish racists have been hunting through the photo archives to find pictures of Louis Farrakhan or other known anti-Semites, which also include other prominent African-American leaders.

They then trot the photos out to right-wing media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Algemeiner, Free Beacon or even Breitbart (which has become an honorary pro-Israel shmatteh), which splash them across the front page.

Reporters then dutifully call national Jewish leaders and ask them to express their outrage at the temerity of Barack Obama or Keith Ellison having lunch or dinner or cocktails privately with Louis Farrakhan.

Haaretz’s misleading headline implying Ellison and Farrakhan enjoyed a tete a tete in 2013
Haaretz’s misleading headline implying Ellison and Farrakhan enjoyed a tete a tete in 2013

Anything to smear the reputations of African-American leaders and force them to toe a pro-Israel line.

It’s unseemly, it’s hypocritical, it’s pure unadulterated chutzpah.  Barack Obama owes neither Greenblatt nor anyone an explanation for why he attended a Congressional Black Caucus luncheon in 2005 (three years before he ran for president) at which Louis Farrakhan was an invited guest.

Similarly, Ellison owes no one an apology for attending a dinner hosted by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York City, along with hundreds of other Iranian-Americans, Muslims, and many others–just because one of those hundreds of individuals was Louis Farrakhan.

Haaretz described the event as a “private dinner” with Farrakhan and Ellison.  It was only private in the sense that people were invited to attend, thousands of people were invited.  So in that sense it was quite a public dinner.  I know people who were invited and believe me I’m not the best connected person in the world when it comes to such things.

The Wall Street Journal wrote this misleadingly alarming description: “In September 2013…Messrs. Ellison and Farrakhan dined together.”  Yeah, they dined together with 1,000 of their closest, most intimate friends.  People, this is much ado about nothing.

To blame Ellison or claim he’s insensitive to anti-Semitism because a single guest held views offensive to Jews is beyond ridiculous.  I, for example have attended scores of similar major fundraising dinners when I was a fundraiser for several Jewish community federations, a hospital, and university.  Did I vet all guests to determine whether they’d ever made racist, misogynist or anti-Semitic remarks, or even whether they’d committed criminal acts?  Of course not.  Is it possible there were such individuals at such dinners?  Sure. What does Greenblatt expect?  That prominent guests at such events must demand the guest list from the hosts to determine whether they’re rubbing shoulders with unsavory characters?  Or should such guests demand veto power over who attends the events lest someone embarrass them?

Greenblatt had the chutzpah to tweet that Obama owed him (or us) an apology (his actual words were “it’s time [for Obama] to denounce bigotry again,”) but he was essentially demanding an Ashamnu from the former president for his “gaffe” in showing his face at an event featuring Farrakhan.  Get over it, Greenblatt.  He’s a former president of the United States.  He doesn’t owe you anything.  He doesn’t owe me anything.  He doesn’t owe American Jews anything on this score.

I strongly advise the Jewish leaders having hissy fits over this to calm down, take a deep breath, go study a blatt of gemara, and find other ways to spend their time.  This doesn’t do the Jewish community any good.  It’s Jewsplaining of the worst sort.  If Jews want to stay alert for real, dangerous, toxic anti-Semitism take a look at the White House or Breitbart or Orange County, where a nice Jewish college boy was murdered by a neo-Nazi thug (not a word from Greenblatt about that heinous murder).  Because telling Black leaders who they can and can’t consort with is obnoxious.  Cut it out, now.

This article was published by Tikun Olam.


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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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