ADL’s Curtiss-Lusher, however, denied any shift away from the organization’s prioritization of fighting anti-Semitism.

“We do advocate for civil rights for all people, and have done so since our founding in 1913,” he said. “But what makes ADL special is distinctly our focus on anti-Semitism. That is needed in today’s world more than ever, and our succession committee had that in mind when we selected Jonathan.”


Leading up to ADL’s leadership transition in the summer of 2015, it is Foxman’s voice rather than Greenblatt’s that will likely continue to come under scrutiny. Amid this year’s controversy over the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer, ” Foxman said in June that “[w]hile the opera is highly problematic and has a strong anti-Israel bias, it is not anti-Semitic.”

“If ADL can’t recognize the Klinghoffer opera as anti-Semitic, do we really need an ADL?” said Sprayregen. “Let’s hope Greenblatt can restore ADL’s reputation to what is was under former national executives [Benjamin] Epstein, [Arnold] Forster, and [Nathan] Perlmutter.”

ZOA’s Klein called it unwise for ADL to hire a visibly partisan figure such as Greenblatt.

“How will he be able to criticize President Obama when he takes over [for Foxman]? He’ll never do it,” Klein told JNS.

Further partisan-related concerns have surfaced regarding the ties of the Aspen Institute think tank, Greenblatt’s former employer, to liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The think tank has received at least $400,000 in funding from Soros’s Open Society Institute.

Soros has funded a number of anti-Israel organizations that are aimed at delegitimizing Israel globally, shifting U.S. public opinion against Israel, and promoting fringe political opposition groups inside Israel, according to the watchdog group NGO Monitor.

Soros also funds the left-wing lobby J Street, which says it exists to bring about a two-state solution but has often come under fire for partnering on programming with anti-Israel organizations such as the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine.

Sprayregen said Greenblatt’s ties to Obama and Soros “are cause for concern, but Mr. Greenblatt is entitled to be judged on what he accomplishes for ADL.”




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