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Wikipedia declares Anti-Defamation League 'unreliable' on Israel, antisemitism: Report

Decision puts pro-Israel organisation in a group alongside Newsmax, TMZ, and the conspiracist website Infowars
US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the ADL annual conference on fighting antisemitism on 7 March 2024 in New York City.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the ADL annual conference on fighting antisemitism on 7 March 2024 in New York City (Spencer Platt/AFP)

Wikipedia's editors voted to declare the Anti-Defamation League "generally unreliable" on Israel and Palestine as well as the issue of antisemitism, adding the organisation to a list of banned sources, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).

The report said that an "overwhelming majority" of Wikipedia editors voted to deem the organisation unreliable.

Middle East Eye reached out to Wikipedia for comment on the report.

The decision puts the pro-Israel organisation, which has a long history of demonising Palestine activism, in a group alongside the National Inquirer, Newsmax, TMZ, and the conspiracist website Infowars.

"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, as reported by JTA.

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The ADL said in a statement reported by JTA that the decision is a "campaign to delegitimise the ADL" and that editors opposing the ban "provided point by point refutations, grounded in factual citations, to every claim made, but apparently facts no longer matter".

"This is a sad development for research and education, but ADL will not be daunted in our age-old fight against antisemitism and all forms of hate," the statement said.

Many editors at the online encyclopedia said that the ADL undermined its credibility as a reliable source of information by altering how it categorises antisemitic incidents, which include pro-Palestine protests.

The editors also cited controversial statements by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who has claimed student protests were proxies of Iran and compared the Palestinian keffiyeh head scarf to the swastika.

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They also debated the ADL's embracing of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

The definition was formulated in 2004 and published in 2005 by antisemitism expert Kenneth Stern in collaboration with other academics from the American Jewish Committee, a pro-Israel Jewish advocacy organisation founded at the beginning of the 20th century and based in New York.

Critics say some of the examples conflate antisemitism with criticism of current and historical policies that led to the creation of the state of Israel plus the continuing human rights abuses against Palestinians and the occupation of their lands by Israel.

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.

The ADL also has a long history of attacking Palestinian rights movements with labels of antisemitism, and has previously worked with US law enforcement to spy on Arab-American groups. 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 to use surveillance footage to prosecute protesters.

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