ADL Faces Wikipedia Ban Over Controversial Definitions of Anti-Semitism

Wikipedia’s decision to ban the ADL over its controversial definitions of anti-Semitism highlights growing backlash against the organization’s stance on anti-Zionism and Palestinian rights.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has long been regarded as a trustworthy source on anti-Semitism by Western corporate media. Its reports have often been central to discussions about the rise of attacks against Jewish people. However, the ADL now faces significant backlash for its brazen conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Wikipedia has added the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to a list of banned and partially banned sources due to its conflation of anti-Jewish hate crimes and anti-Israel critiques. After editors voted it “unreliable” as a source of information, the ADL now finds itself alongside sources like Newsmax and Occupy Democrats. This development places the ADL, considered part of the vast network of groups that form the Israel Lobby, in the category of unreliable information sources.

“ADL no longer appears to adhere to a serious, mainstream, and intellectually cogent definition of antisemitism. Instead, it has succumbed to the shameless politicization of the very subject it was originally esteemed for being reliable on,” said Wikipedia editor Iskandar 323.

The labeling of the ADL as unreliable is a major blow to the narrative pushed by Western media since December. This narrative cited the NGO’s reported data on an unprecedented spike in anti-Semitic incidents following October 7. The ADL claimed that anti-Semitic incidents rose by 360% after the beginning of the war on Gaza and that 140% more incidents occurred in 2023 compared to the previous year.

However, the ADL has admitted to changing its definition of what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident. This new definition now includes pro-Palestinian protests that featured “anti-Zionist chants and slogans.” According to The Forward, these accounted for around 1,317 of the total incidents reported.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, has also repeatedly come under fire for his comments regarding anti-war student protests across the United States. During an interview with MSNBC, he claimed that “Iran has their military proxies like Hezbollah, and Iran has their campus proxies like these groups like SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] and JVP [Jewish Voice for Peace].”

In response to this, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) protested the platforming of Greenblatt. Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell stated, “Falsely claiming that Jewish and Palestinian student organizations are literal proxies of the Iranian government is a dangerous and defamatory slander that has no place on MSNBC or any other television network.”

Mitchell also addressed other comments by Greenblatt, who describes the ADL as a civil rights group. He asserted, “No civil rights leader would ever equate Jewish and Palestinian college students with Hezbollah, analogize the Nazi swastika to the Palestinian keffiyeh, or question whether Hamas sympathizers were writing MSNBC scripts.”

In January, an ADL staff revolt occurred after CEO Jonathan Greenblatt praised Elon Musk, who had seemingly endorsed the anti-Semitic theory that minority communities are responsible for anti-Semitism and that Jewish people are to blame. Greenblatt also sparked controversy when a leaked call revealed him stating that “we have a major TikTok problem” and generational issues in garnering public support for Israel. The subsequent targeting of TikTok by the U.S. Congress, involving politicians receiving donations from Israel Lobby groups, suggested that anti-Israeli content was a factor in the legislative push to ban the app.

The pushback from Wikipedia against the ADL and its definition of anti-war activists protesting Zionism is a rebuke of the controversial definition of anti-Semitism put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This IHRA definition, now adopted by hundreds of universities, companies, governments, political parties, and the U.S. House of Representatives, includes examples of criticism of Israel and Zionism. Thus, the conflation between criticism of Israel and hatred of Jewish people is not just an ADL problem, as the pro-Israeli group could argue that it is following this widely accepted definition.

Feature photo | Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaks during 2023 National Action Network (NAN) Triumph Awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on October 16, 2023. Lev Radin | AP

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47