ADL Faces Wikipedia ban over Israel and antisemitism

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaks at the group’s 2018 National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. Credit: Michael Brochstein, SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wikipedia’s editors have voted to label the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “generally unreliable” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in its addition to the list of banned and partially banned sources.

  • An overwhelming majority of editors involved in the debate also voted to deem the organization unreliable on the topic of antisemitism, its core focus, with a formal declaration on that count expected next.

Debate among editors: The reliability of the ADL has been debated for years, but scrutiny has intensified following the events of October 7th.

  • Critics argued that the ADL’s inclusion of pro-Palestinian protests in its antisemitism audit have compromised its objectivity.
  • They also pointed to controversial statements by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, including claims that student protests against Israel are proxies for Iran and comparisons of the Palestinian keffiyeh head scarf to the swastika.
  • The debate also touched on the ADL’s embrace of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which claims that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” and “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” are forms of antisemitism.

Impact on credibility: This decision places the ADL in the same category as sources like the National Inquirer, Newsmax, Occupy Democrats, TMZ, and Infowars, dealing a significant blow to its credibility.

  • “ADL no longer appears to adhere to a serious, mainstream and intellectually cogent definition of antisemitism, but has instead given into the shameless politicisation of the very subject that it was originally esteemed for being reliable on,” wrote a Wikipedia editor known as Iskandar323
  • James Loeffler, a professor of Jewish history at Johns Hopkins University, noted that “Losing this mark of trust will impair the ADL’s ability to reach digital audiences and counter online hatred.”
  • Loeffler continued, stating, “We desperately need solid, evidence-based data analysis of contemporary antisemitism. Without a trusted authority, we’re likely to see only more politicization and polarization to the detriment of all, especially vulnerable Jews.”

Why it matters: Wikipedia’s decision to classify the ADL as “generally unreliable” is noteworthy, particularly given its expanded role in ‘countering hate,’ following the decline of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

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