Anti-Semitism in U.S. as Bad as It Was in 1930s, ADL Chief Tells Israeli Lawmakers

Jonathan Greenblatt also warns Israeli leaders not to abandon the two-state solution out of belief they will have a freer hand under a Trump administration.

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.
Mike Segar, Reuters / Steven Vucci, AP

Anti-Semitic rhetoric in the United States has reached levels unprecedented since 1930s Germany, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned a gathering of Israeli lawmakers in Jerusalem on Monday. 

“Anti-Semitism has wound its way into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying,” he said at the Knesset meeting, which was convened to discuss the plight of American Jewry under the incoming Trump administration.

Since the U.S. election, Greenblatt noted, “hundreds of hate crimes,” including against Jews, have been reported throughout the U.S.

Greenblatt took particular aim at the so-called alt-right, which he described as “a new name for an old idea – white supremacy.” 

Clearly referring to Steve Bannon, the controversial former head of Breitbart News who was recently appointed senior counsel to the U.S. president-elect, Greenblatt said: “And now one of the main cheerleaders of this movement will sit in the West Wing, literally down the hall from the Oval Office, in just a few weeks, just steps away from the president’s son-in-law.” Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an Orthodox Jew.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
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The resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States, said Greenblatt, was evident on the far left as well. “One singular aspect of this trend is the rise of anti-Semitism from both ends of the ideological spectrum, both from the extreme right and the radical left,” he said. 

Many right-wing Israelis have welcomed Trump’s victory, Greenblatt noted, because the U.S. president-elect and his advisers had suggested during the election campaign that they would not pressure Israel into any territorial concessions.

Greenblatt warned the lawmakers not to abandon the idea of a two-state solution out of a belief that they would now have a freer hand. “Israel would be well served,” he said, “by considering steps that preserve its options in the future and demonstrate its commitment to peace.”

At the same time, he said, it would be presumptuous to draw conclusions about future U.S. policy in the region based on statements issued during the campaign.

“The new administration has not yet articulated a well-developed view of the conflict, let alone one contextualized within any overarching vision of the region – or a foreign policy that clearly explains America’s place in the broader world.  Thus anyone who tells you that we know what the future will bring is incorrect. The only thing that is certain today is the degree of uncertainty.”