The new national director of the Anti-Defamation League has said that he is “deeply troubled” by some accusations made against opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran, which he wrote “can foster a hostile climate for the American Jewish community.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, who formerly worked in the Obama White House, wrote an op-ed Wednesday for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that criticized the rhetoric of both supporters and opponents of the deal, but specifically noted that supporters, including some members of the administration he used to work for, are attaching troubling stereotypes to opponents. He wrote that he was “deeply troubled” by those who called Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.) a “traitor” for opposing the deal.
As the debate over the Iran deal has gone forward, the administration has at times waded into characterizations that in the eyes of many members of the Jewish community recall malicious accusations about Jews. References to money and the well-funded opposition, while factually accurate, resonate negatively in a Jewish community that has been targeted for centuries as using its wealth for sinister purposes. This anxiety only is bolstered when one realizes that no one has raised issues about the finances and organizations of the deal proponents.
Moreover, claims that opponents of the proposed agreement are “the same folks who brought us the war in Iraq” remind many Jewish Americans of tired accusations against the “Jewish lobby” that has supposedly pushed for every failed policy in the Middle East. Yet there was no unified Jewish community position on the Iraq war, and the community was in no way a major factor in the Bush administration’s decision to launch the war. In fact, many Jewish Americans who are concerned about this deal with Iran actually were opposed to the Iraq war and bristle at accusations that imply “they got it wrong before, don’t listen to them now.”
At best, this assertion is simply inaccurate. At worst, it can foster a hostile climate for the American Jewish community as the debate intensifies. Long after the dust settles it may also leave lingering questions about the Jewish ability to partake in public debate.
Greenblatt ended his op-ed by calling for all sides “to reject personal attacks and to avoid innuendo and stereotypes.”
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized supporters of the deal Tuesday for “resorting to intimidation and demonization” to make their case.
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