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Elon Musk considers banning Anti-Defamation League from X

Hashtag trend BanTheADL, promoted by far-right accounts, comes years after 'Drop The ADL' campaign highlighted 'pattern of attacking social justice movements'
Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on 24 January 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on 24 January 2023 in San Francisco, California (AFP)

Elon Musk, owner of the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, has questioned whether to ban the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in response to a trending hashtag against the group.

"Perhaps we should run a poll on this?" Musk said on Saturday, responding to a far-right account discussing the hashtag #BanTheADL that was trending over the weekend.

On Monday, Musk said of the ADL: "Because they are so aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts for even minor infractions, [the ADL] are ironically the biggest generators of anti-Semitism on this platform."

The #BanTheADL began circulating on the social media platform after a meeting last Thursday between ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and X's new CEO Linda Yaccarino.

"I had a very frank + productive conversation with @LindayaX yesterday about @X, what works and what doesn't, and where it needs to go to address hate effectively on the platform. I appreciated her reaching out and I'm hopeful the service will improve. @ADL will be vigilant," Greenblatt posted after the meeting.

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The hashtag campaign had been boosted by a number of far-right accounts on the platform formerly called Twitter, including former congressional candidate and "proud Islamophobe" Laura Loomer.

The hashtag was condemned by Israel's foreign ministry.

However, while this recent campaign has been promoted by far-right social media accounts, progressive organisations and Palestinian activists have for years raised concerns about the ADL and its efforts to undermine social justice movements in the US.

In 2020, more than 100 human rights groups signed an open letter asking progressive organisations to stop working with the ADL.

'Don't work with Anti-Defamation League,' progressive groups urge
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Middle East Eye reached out to the ADL for comment on the recent hashtag campaign and also asked the group about the 2020 open letter.

The groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Dream Defenders, previously said in the 2020 letter that their call came "in light of a growing understanding of the ADL's harmful practices".

"Even though the ADL is integrated into community work on a range of issues, it has a history and ongoing pattern of attacking social justice movements led by communities of color, queer people, immigrants, Muslims, Arabs and other marginalised groups, while aligning itself with police, right-wing leaders and perpetrators of state violence," the groups warned at the time.

The groups also posted resources to back up their stance on the website

The ADL has a long history of describing Palestinian rights movements as antisemitic and has previously worked with US law enforcement to spy on Arab-American groups, among others. It has also facilitated and funded US police training trips to Israel.

The ADL has also denounced Black rights organisations including the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). In 2016, not long after the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, Greenblatt published a letter in New York Jewish Week highlighting and condemning the movement's solidarity work with Palestinian activists.

The ADL has also advised police forces to plant undercover agents within anti-racist demonstrations in order to use surveillance footage to prosecute protesters.

Palestine Legal, an advocacy group representing Palestinian-American interests, highlighted the ADL's pro-law enforcement work that it said advances "global militarism" and targets "movements for justice led by Black and brown communities".

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