An organization that represents more than 2,500 traditional, Orthodox Jewish rabbis in U.S. public policy condemned Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt for comparing the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The ADL responded to the rabbi’s statement by emphasizing what it characterized as evidence of extremism at CPAC, rather than addressing his specific claims.

“Last week I attended my sixth CPAC representing CJV, and felt even more welcome than previously,” Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said Thursday in a written statement representing his organization.

Menken condemned what he called Greenblatt’s “attempts to characterize the conference based upon intruders who got past security instead of its events and speakers. That is gratuitous slander.”

CPAC, organized by the American Conservative Union, bills itself the largest annual gathering of conservative activists. The conference, first held 50 years ago, convened Feb. 21 to 24 just outside the nation’s capital. The Anti-Defamation League, which bills itself as the nation’s premier organization combating antisemitism, has faced harsh criticism in recent years for downplaying antisemitism on the Left while condemning what it characterizes as “hate” on the Right.

The coalition condemned the ADL leader’s post Monday on the social media site X that lumped in “conspiracy theories” and neo-Nazis at the Conservative Political Action Conference alongside various incidents of antisemitism.

“Quite a weekend,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Greenblatt wrote in the post. He mentioned Farrakhan, the antisemitic Nation of Islam leader, “in Detroit railing against [ADL] & the Jews” and protesters in New York City “screaming anti-Jewish hate at [journalist Bari Weiss] & [comedian Jerry Seinfeld],” before mentioning “disturbing conspiracy theories & neo-Nazis at [CPAC].”

“Just unbelievable,” Greenblatt added.

Neo-Nazis at CPAC?

In a story condemned by CPAC as “fake news,” NBC News reported Feb. 24 that a group of provocateurs who openly identified as national socialists attended a Young Republican mixer that evening and discussed “race science.”

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, told The Daily Signal in a Friday phone interview that the NBC News report “was not journalism.”

Schlapp said that Ben Goggin, the NBC News writer, attended CPAC “to undermine the organization” and “wrote a nonfactual story.” Schlapp added that he does not know “whether or not this cocktail party even existed.”

“Their basic thesis is wrong that somehow CPAC is chummy with neo-Nazis,” the ACU chairman said. “The record is clear. Whenever I’m made aware of any presence of some person espousing hate like that, they’re kicked out from our conference. We’ve kicked out [white nationalist and antisemite] Nick Fuentes from our conference.”

Schlapp said NBC News “hates” CPAC attendees, and he accused the outlet of facilitating antisemitism while trying to “blame conservatives for what they’re guilty of.”

“In psychology, they call that projection,” he quipped.

Schlapp noted that the news site Politico added a lengthy update to its Playbook newsletter citing Goggin’s NBC News report. He also said other NBC reporters apologized to him personally for the treatment CPAC received.

“I’ve talked to reporters at NBC who found NBC’s role at CPAC to be clownish and they’re embarrassed,” Schlapp told The Daily Signal. “For the NBC News reporters who have called me to apologize, I just want to say thank you.”

NBC News did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by publication time.

Support for Jews and Israel

Menken noted the many ways the Conservative Political Action Conference has embraced Jews and the state of Israel, including members of the Jewish state’s parliament, the Knesset.

“There were at least two dozen Jewish conservatives I know personally at the event,” Menken told The Daily Signal. “There were also two members of Knesset there, at least one of whom stayed for the Shabbat program. At which non-Jewish progressive conference would two members of the Knesset be welcome?”

The Coalition for Jewish Values’ public statement Thursday noted other ways that CPAC had embraced him and other Jewish activists.

“Its website announces that ‘CPAC Stands with Israel,’” the coalition said. “The general session included a panel on campus antisemitism and another featuring the father of an Israeli hostage. And, of course, there was the Shabbat at CPAC program, which Nick Fuentes attempted to disrupt last year after being ejected from the main conference.”

The coalition also noted an “ongoing pattern of partisan bias” at the Anti-Defamation League.

The Coalition for Jewish Values has repeatedly condemned ADL’s Greenblatt for weaponizing charges of antisemitism against conservatives while turning a blind eye to antisemitism on the Left. Menken’s statement cited ADL’s attack on Chaya Raichik, the Orthodox Jewish woman behind the popular Libs of TikTok account on X, over her CPAC speech last year, and ADL’s decision to put Raichik in a “Glossary of Extremism” until she threatened to sue.

In November, the Anti-Defamation League claimed that the National Center for Public Policy Research and the National Legal and Policy Center had employed “conspiracy theories or conspiratorial language … that could be interpreted as an antisemitic dog whistle.”

The coalition condemned this attack, arguing that “both of these organizations are robust fighters for Israel and against antisemitism.” The rabbis also noted that ADL condemned a Jewish writer, Ethan Peck, by name even though Peck opposes antisemitism and terrorism.

“The ADL appears as concerned with a target’s politics as whether he or she is actually hateful—much less antisemitic,” Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, chairman of the coalition’s Rabbinic Circle, added in the Thursday statement from the Coalition for Jewish Values.

“In the Raichik case, its accusations were not merely blatantly partisan but, by the ADL’s own admission, indefensible,” Gordimer said. “But it appears the ADL learned precisely the wrong lesson from its debacle; it used couched weasel words to avoid a similar reaction from Peck, rather than sticking to what is both true and protects Jewish interests.”

ADL’s Response

“ADL calls out antisemitism and extremism regardless of whether it is coming from the Right, the Left, or anywhere else,” a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement Friday.

“Just a few examples from CPAC include multiple known white supremacists in attendance including Jared Taylor and members of the Groyper Army,” the ADL spokesperson said. “Video shows one known white supremacist, Ryan Sánchez, wearing a CPAC credential, openly giving the Nazi salute. None appear to have been ejected as they have been in previous years.” (Schlapp contested that video, since it appeared in NBC News’ reporting.)

“Additionally, the John Birch Society, an extremist group long considered too extreme by many on the right, officially returned to CPAC this year after a 12-year ban,” the ADL statement added.

The group also cited remarks from Jack Posobiec, senior editor at the conservative publication Human Events.

“Also, the ‘end of democracy’ was cheered from the stage by Jack Posobiec who went on to say ‘we didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it,’ and later ‘clarified’ that, ‘We’re not destroying all of democracy, just their democracy,’” the ADL said.

“Furthermore, a pinball machine was on display which allowed players to reenact the January 6th attack,” the ADL spokesperson added. “The creator of the game made clear it was not meant as a joke, stating, ‘I decided to make a game that actually expresses what really happened on Jan. 6th. It’s very suspicious, and there was not any kind of serious investigation of what went on.’”

Responses to ADL

Posobiec told The Daily Signal that his comments about the “end of democracy” were meant as a joke. He sent the video of the speech, which shows laughter as he speaks.

Schlapp told The Daily Signal that the John Birch Society “for a number of years” has been only one CPAC co-sponsor among many, “with no objection from the ADL, which seems more intent on playing politics than fighting antisemitism.”

He also accused the Anti-Defamation League of “colluding” with NBC News “to smear the great Americans who make up CPAC.”

“They are relying on leftist propagandists intent on disrupting our event,” Schlapp added, referring to CPAC. “All the photos and videos I have seen are outside our event and therefore out of our control. If we determine someone to be a neo-Nazi, all can be assured they will not be sold a ticket in the future.”

“Sadly for the ADL, they put out no statement praising our efforts to combat Jew hatred but instead fell in line with the pro-Hamas fake news: Tragic that institutions continue to fail us and aid those intent on destroying Israel and America,” Schlapp said.

“Hey ADL, who moved the American Embassy in Israel? Call me if you need guidance,” he quipped.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated after publication to reflect that the Coalition for Jewish Values statement represents the entire coalition, not just Menken.

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