While I understand the concerns raised by Ben Sales in “The Two Sides of ADL,” they are based on a number of misunderstandings about our mission and the interests and concerns of the next generation of Jewish leaders (Opinion, Dec. 10).
First, the Anti-Defamation League has in its original charter a dual mission: to fight anti-Semitism and work for the security of Jews and for equality for all groups. We have never seen these two missions in contradiction of each other. The work we do to defend Jews resonates in the broader world, and what we do to speak out on behalf of other minorities benefits those we speak out for and the Jewish community.
Second, Sales fails to understand how the security of Israel is intimately connected to the security of Jews worldwide and to the explosion of anti-Semitism. ADL’s speaking out on these matters, while also not hesitating to use our voice when bad things happen in Israel — such as the disturbing recent statement by rabbis opposing non-Jews living side-by-side with Jews — is critical to living up to our mission. It’s sad that Israel has become the Jew amongst the nations, depriving Israel of rights that the world’s community grants to all other nations, including the right to self-defense.
Third, Sales cites the Avi Chai study showing that anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel are lesser concerns among Jews in their 20s and 30s relative to their parents’ generation. This was one finding of the study, but not the complete picture. The survey also found that many emerging Jewish leaders — indeed, nearly half of young establishment leaders — are in fact very much concerned about anti-Semitism and Israel. And other recent surveys on American Jewish attitudes, including one by Brandeis University, have concluded that while younger Jews are somewhat less attached to Israel, the level of attachment and concern increases as they grow older, and is primarily a result of ignorance and not social attitudes.
Since we believe, and I think possibly Sales himself may believe, that these are real challenges, the solution does not lie in running away from these matters but to find better ways to communicate with young people about why they should care about these issues.