Orthodox and politically conservative Jewish groups are criticizing CNN’s special report on anti-Semitism that aired on Sunday night, alleging that it whitewashed anti-Semitism directed at Orthodox Jews coming from the political left.
The hour-long “Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America,” hosted by the network’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash, focused on rising incidents of violence and hatred against Jews.
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Agudath Israel of America said that they appreciated that CNN chose to focus attention on anti-Semitism through the creation of the report but was disappointed that attacks on Orthodox Jews—who represent the most likely victims of the attacks due to their visible attire—was addressed only tangentially.
“While the show mentioned anti-Semitism on the far right and the political left, Ms. Bash’s comments on social media seem to minimize the violence on the left by simply calling it ‘troubling discourse emerging,’ ” Agudath Israel said in a statement to JNS. “We are hopeful that this is just the beginning of a wider discussion on the topic that will transcend party-line politics in order to effectively combat anti-Semitism.”
Another Orthodox group, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents more than 2,000 traditional rabbis, called the special report a “deliberate whitewash,” claiming that the opinions the report shows did not represent traditional communities.
“Though the program acknowledged that hatred can come from both the left and right, it also seemed to suggest that 90% of anti-Semitism can be tied to white supremacy: [attacks in] Poway [Calif.], Charlottesville [Va.] and former President Donald Trump not condemning David Duke ‘enough’ for their liking,” said CJV vice president Rabbi Dov Fischer.
“There was no mention of [Democratic] Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, [Nation of Islam leader] Louis Farrakhan, or the perpetrators of the clear majority of shootings, stabbings and other random attacks that have become sadly common in places like Brooklyn, N.Y.; Monsey, N.Y.: and Jersey City, N.J. This was a deliberate whitewash—one that enables left-wing anti-Semitism to fester unchecked.”
The group wrote that according to statistics and leaders in the affected communities, the overwhelming majority of anti-Semitic attacks are not coming from white supremacists. It pointed to two separate incidents over the weekend where Orthodox Jews were attacked by African-American teens and noted that the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas in January, which the special report covered, was a result of hateful beliefs aligned with the political left.
The special report’s reliance on ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt was a common thread among those who criticized it.
“CNN appeared to rely inordinately upon Jonathan Greenblatt, a former Obama [administration] staffer who has taken the ADL in a highly partisan direction, and even brought in Jill Jacobs, head of an organization seen by most of the Jewish community as providing political cover for anti-Semitism,” CJV southern regional vice president Rabbi Moshe Parnes said in a release.
“CNN failed to speak with a single Orthodox rabbinic leader—whether from the Simon Wiesenthal Center or a rabbinic organization like our own—and hid from its audience the predominant cause of the current crisis.” JNS