AS ISRAELI GOVERNMENT Jewish establishment organizations are preparing to annex parts of the West Bank and are planning how best to protect Israel from political consequences. The same week that Jason Isaacson, the Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer of the American Jewish Committee, issued a op-ed With the title “We will defend the annexation if necessary – but here’s the thing”, the ADL seems to formulate its own answer. A leaked ADL strategy memo from Jewish currents sheds light on how the nominal civil rights organization is preparing to address the critics of the annexation.
The “Stakeholder Analysis Memo”, which was published by the Government Relations, Advocacy and Community Engagement department of the ADL and marked as a draft, warns that the group must find a way to protect Israel from criticism without other civil rights organizations alienate. elected color officials and activists and supporters of Black Lives Matter. The memo suggests that the group hopes not to be open to public criticism of the annexation as it works to block laws that severely censor Israel or lead to material consequences, such as conditioning US military support States. At the time of going to press, the ADL did not respond to requests for comments on the memo.
The memo lists the annexation of the “eight most important effects on political and social engagement”, including: “The relationship of ADL to the Tri-Caucus (the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus) and the To complicate progressive caucus ”; “Pit ADL on the wrong side of the movement of black life matter”; “Describe Israel as an occupier, racist and apartheid state”; and “question the relationship between ADL and many civil rights organizations and coalitions.”
According to the memo, a particular concern of the ADL is that the group must find a way to credibly protect Israel from the charges of formalizing a system of discrimination and submission based on ethnonational identity. “The reference to apartheid or” separate but equal “systems to describe Israel will be an important political focus,” the memo said. “As a company, it will be critical how ADL responds to these attacks.” The memo suggests as “next steps” that the communications team and the ADL executive office “find out how to respond to Israeli accusations as racist and an apartheid system and when to respond publicly and when privately”.
The memo suggests that the ADL hopes to avoid the kind of public controversy that has erupted in the past year and a half, such as that of representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has repeated subject these Congressmen on hard indictments for their willingness to criticize the policies of the Israeli government; this in turn has led to this accusations that Greenblatt picked out the color’s female leaders for criticism. In the case of an annexation, the memo warns: “Complications with minority assemblies and elections are likely to worsen if our response to critics of Israel is inconsistent, the target group is the color leader, or is considered disproportionate.” The ADL appears to be particularly concerned that “the annexation could further worsen the relationship with the Congressional Black Caucus,” chaired by Rep. Karen Bass, strongly condemned Israel’s decision to block entry to MPs Omar and Tlaib last year.
In a sign of the growing importance of the continuing nationwide black-led uprising, the memo repeatedly emphasizes that similarities between Israel’s occupation techniques and institutionalized racism in the US will lead to increased criticism of Israel. “At this moment in our country, when we are going through a racial settling moment, Israel is portrayed as an ethnonationalist country that continues to oppress and subdue the Palestinians,” the memo said. “When violence breaks out, the Middle East is viewed from the prism of the George Floyd movement.”
The memo makes it clear that the ADL does not want to be seen publicly as a defender of the annexation, even if it hopes to appease the critics of the annexation. “ADL must offer local and national leaders a space where they can voice their criticism of Israel’s decision,” advises the memo. “Don’t give the impression that ADL is an ally of PM Netanyahu and an advocate of annexation.”
The last page of the memo lists the elected officials that ADL CEO Greenblatt should call before the annexation to “proactively anticipate flash points”. These officers include Sens. Chuck Schumer, Chris Van Hollen, Chris Murphy, and Brian Schatz, as well as representatives Pramila Jayapal, Hakeem Jeffries, Mario Diaz Balart, Steny Hoyer, Karen Bass, Jamie Raskin and Ted Deutch.
If the memo is a clue, the aim of the ADL is to react superficially to rhetorical reprimands in response to criticism of the annexation, while working to neutralize what it calls “anti-Israel legislative proposals”, e.g. Condemn and pick out his human rights record and condition his military aid. “As an example of strategies that the ADL should support, the memo quotes a“ measured, appropriate and consistent ”letter on annexation put into circulation by MPs Jan Schakowsky, Ted Deutsch and others, including moderate criticism of Israel, which the ADL hopes will “prevent the far left from signing anything more extreme on the annexation issue”. While the memo states that the ADL plans to seek “engagement for progressive groups” like J Street, Bend the Arc and the NY Jewish Agenda, it says it will coordinate “the ADL’s response to politics” with AIPAC announced publicly This annexation will not change its approach to “strategic US-Israel relations”.
The leaked ADL memo shows the position some established Jewish groups are now in. The ADL seems to acknowledge that the annexation would violate the basic human rights of the Palestinians and would enforce a codified regime of submission to discrimination based on nationality – and that, as a group allegedly concerned with civil rights, contradicts their stated values. Despite the apparent contradiction, the ADL has spent a long time and energy to cool criticism of Israeli politics and to protect the Israeli government from the consequences. The annexation will apparently not change that.
An earlier version of this article said Jason Isaacson of the AJC “explicitly stated” that the AJC would defend the annexation. Isaacson claims that he did not choose the headline for the article, listing the arguments the AJC will use to defend the annexation.
Joshua Leifer is an editorial assistant at Jewish currents.
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