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The Drop The ADL working group is continuing to document how the ADL is causing harm in BIPOC, Muslim, Jewish, Arab, immigrant, queer, and progressive/social justice spaces — and documenting community efforts to push back on the ADL. To share a story, please get in touch by emailing Contributors’ names will be kept confidential.

The following stories occurred or came to the attention of the Drop The ADL working group following the publication of the open letter and primer:

2022 – A leaked internal ADL memo shows the ADL seeking to evade criticism from antiracist movements while doubling down on its policing and militarization programs. In the memo, the ADL considers permanent suspension of police exchanges with Israel because of the bad optics and high cost of defending them. The ADL admits that the exchanges could exacerbate violent policing but reporting confirms the ADL will continue to deepen its close relationship with law enforcement in spite of the call to defund the police from Black-led organizations. Progressive movements celebrate a temporary pause on police exchange programs due to collective organizing.

2021 – As the ADL defends Israel’s deadly bombardment of Gaza, attacks on Muslim holy sites, and violent expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, five social justice leaders resign from the prestigious Civil Society Fellowship over its ties to the ADL.

2021 – After educators win a major victory to develop a curriculum for K-12 schools on the stolen land known as California to teach Ethnic Studies — a discipline created to center the voices of Indigenous and racialized communities in examining the history, legacy, and ongoing resistance to U.S. racism, colonial conquest, and enslavement — the ADL helps lead a campaign to white-wash and gut the entire curriculum. As a result, all original writers of the curriculum — Ethnic Studies practitioners and scholars — condemn the revisions and demand their names be removed from the final document. The ADL campaign, which coalesces with right-wing organizations such as Hindu American Foundation, Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Stand With Us, advocates removing Arab American Studies and Palestine altogether, and removing mention of capitalism, in the process undermining the entire anti-colonial, critical race theory framework of the curriculum. The ADL makes way for the veto of a bill that would have made Ethnic Studies a high school requirement in California. The campaign also advocates removing words that might make people uncomfortable and adopting a definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel. For two years, a multiracial coalition of grassroots movements, with support from leaders like Angela Davis, Cornel West, and Robin D.G. Kelly, and the California Teachers’ Association, one of the largest teacher’s unions in the country, work to defend the right of California’s 6 million students — more than 80% of them kids of color — to a curriculum reflecting their own experiences and histories. In March 2021, with the support of the ADL, the California Department of Education approves a sanitized, gutted, all-lives-matter curriculum that completely erases Palestine.

2020 – After more than 100 racial and economic justice organizations issue an open letter to progressives to #DropTheADL, the ADL claims “The idea that we surveil progressive movements or target them is patently false.” Two days later, a FOIA request reveals that the ADL hired a private investigative firm to track and surveil Occupation-Free DC and Jewish Voice for Peace’s Washington DC chapter — which organize to end DC police participation in U.S.-Israel police training exchanges — and passed reporting from the ADL’s “intelligence team” to a private conduit to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. 

2020 – Looking to enhance its relationship with law enforcement agencies, the ADL hires longtime FBI agent Gregory W. Ehrie, who headed up the FBI’s “domestic terrorism” work from 2013 to 2015 and oversaw detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison camp from 2003 to 2005.

2017 – In its guide to protecting religious and communal institutions, the ADL suggests that congregations volunteer their sites to serve as locations for local SWAT teams to train.

2017 – FBI Director James Comey delivers a “Love Letter to the ADL.” 

2015 – The ADL sends U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Department of Homeland Security Executive Associate Director Peter Edge, later promoted to ICE Acting Deputy Director under President Trump, to Israel as part of the ADL’s National Counter Terrorism Institute Seminar. These seminars offer U.S. law enforcement officials the opportunity to trade techniques with the Israeli military and security. In the participant booklet, Edge shared that a career highlight was serving as a “field agent with the U.S. Customs Service conducting financial investigations and undercover operations,” and that he was most looking forward to learning how Israel’s law enforcement “manages” threat levels effectively and “how those techniques can be applied more broadly.”

2010 – The ADL opposes construction of Park51 in lower Manhattan, saying while bigotry is wrong, construction is just “not right” and “counterproductive,” and asserting that the Muslim community’s leaders could have connections to groups whose “values” were questionable.

1982 – When the National Education Association develops a national anti-racism curriculum focused on state violence, the ADL denounces the materials as anti-American, joins with the American Federation of Teachers (which opposes affirmative action and whose president says the U.S. has “from time to time treated minorities badly”) and provides a replacement “anti-bias” ADL curriculum that highlights racial justice progress instead.

1960s – The ADL selectively supports civil rights organizing while opposing affirmative action, the Black Power movement, and the Black-led movement for community control of schools. As the Reagan administration sets out to suppress leftist popular movements in Central America, the ADL falsely accuses Nicaragua’s Sandinistas of forcing Jews to flee. The ADL’s story is debunked by a delegation of U.S. Jewish activists and U.S. embassy reports.

1950s – The ADL cooperates and share files with right-wing anti-communist crusaders including Senator Joseph McCarthy. They denounce claims that the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were motivated by antisemitism; in fact, the judge who sentences the Rosenbergs to death is a member of the ADL’s national Civil Rights committee. 

1913 – The ADL is founded as a conservative effort to subvert grassroots organizing by working class Jewish immigrants.