The Republican Jewish Coalition suggested Wednesday that the Anti-Defamation League went too far in its criticism of Donald Trump’s campaign and supporters during the 2016 presidential election.
RJC executive director Matt Brooks told the Forward that the nonprofit group could be in a “compromising position” as a result of its focus on the anti-Semitic imagery and rhetoric employed by Trump’s campaign and supporters.
“I think it bears watching,” Brooks said, “and I think that the ADL has put itself potentially in a compromising position going forward, in terms of its ability to interact with the incoming administration.”
He called for an “examination” of the ADL’s activity.
“I understand that they are an important watchdog on these things, but it seems to me that at critical times in the course of this campaign, a pattern emerged where the ADL put their thumb on the scale,” Brooks said.
Asked whether he interpreted those comments to be a threat to the organization’s tax-exempt status, Oren Segal, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said the group will continue to call out anti-Semitism where it sees it.
“People have attacked ADL on the right and on the left for many years based on our policies,” Segal told TPM. “Our consistent record of speaking out against bigotry and anti-Semitism and hatred is as relevant today as it has ever been and that’s not going to change. We’re not going to stop speaking out on effects that they have because once we do we cease to be an organization.”
An ADL task force published a report in October identifying a small cohort of self-designated Trump supporters, white nationalists and conservatives it said was responsible for the majority of anti-Semitic Twitter attacks on journalists over the course of the 2016 presidential election.
In November, the ADL released a statement blasting the Trump campaign for airing a closing ad that invoked “subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”
The ad featured audio from a speech that Trump gave at an October rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he warned voters about a global “power structure” of “special interests” conspiring to derail his campaign. His comments played over video footage of Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein – all of whom are Jewish, except Clinton.
Allegra Kirkland contributed reporting.