Jonathan Greenblatt's Testimony Before the House Committee on Homeland Security Regarding the Dynamic Terrorism Landscape and What It Means for America

Remarks by Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, ADL

February 02, 2022


February 2, 2022

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Katko, Members of the Committee, good morning. I am Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, the oldest anti-hate organization in America. It is an honor to appear before you today to address the current terrorism landscape and the dire threat that extremists pose to the United States.

Since 1913, ADL has worked to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. We have a world-class team including analysts and investigators who track extremist threats across the ideological spectrum.

Violent domestic extremism is on the rise and threatens all of our communities – and the Jewish community continues to be a primary target of extremists from all sides. 

Just two weeks ago in Colleyville, Texas, an Islamist-inspired terrorist fueled by age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power traveled thousands of miles to take four people hostage at gunpoint during a Shabbat service in a pathetic effort to free an Al Qaeda operative who herself repeatedly espoused hateful views about Jews in her public trial.

The crisis in Colleyville was a painful reminder that the threat to the Jewish community in America remains significant and lethal. In fact, ADL has recorded a 115 percent increase in antisemitic incidents from 2015 to 2020. That is an alarming spike by any measure, not to mention the data obscures the human toll: thousands of acts of hateful anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism; hundreds of acts of brutal assault against Jewish people; and at least 18 antisemitic murders that devastated families, shattered communities, and stunned the country.

In a country riven by political differences, I am sad to report that antisemitism knows no partisan bounds. As I have told this committee in previous hearings, neither side of the spectrum is exempt from intolerance nor above antisemitism. Politicizing the oldest hatred is a tool that we regrettably see from politicians on both sides – and it needs to stop.

We are particularly troubled by the rise of domestic violent extremism, including white supremacists, armed militia groups, accelerationists, sovereign citizens and other groups that demonize the Jewish people. Some of these actors trumpet the “Replacement Theory” that posits that a cabal of Jewish people are seeking to commit “white genocide.” It is frightening to think that this concept has been mainstreamed in recent years yet some prominent conservative voices continue to make outlandish, groundless claims that suggest Jewish philanthropists are seeking to flood America with migrants or other bewildering claims. From Charlottesville to Capitol Hill, this has played out with deadly results.

We also are troubled by the rise of hateful anti-Israel forces that demonize the Jewish state. From pro-Iranian outlets spreading hateful lies on social media to self-described activist groups targeting Jews in public spaces with false accusations of apartheid or genocide. It is frightening to think that this concept has been mainstreamed in recent years as some so-called progressive voices make outlandish, groundless claims that suggest that Zionists are seeking to enslave Palestinian people or other bewildering claims. From Times Square to Colleyville, this has played out with terrifying results.

We can, and we must, do more to prevent tragedies like these from ever happening again.

When I had the honor of appearing before you one year ago, I called for a whole-of-government approach and a whole-of-society strategy to combating domestic extremism. We have made progress since then, but so much more needs to be done to truly meet the moment right now.

With that in mind, I again respectfully call on Congress to adopt the principles of PROTECT, ADL’s comprehensive, seven-part plan to mitigate the threat posed by domestic terrorism while protecting civil liberties, staying true to American freedoms and values.

ADL’s recommendations include: passing the bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act… ending the complicity of social media services in facilitating extremism... creating an independent clearinghouse for online extremism content …and doubling funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

People should not be risking their lives when they choose to spend Shabbat in a synagogue or shop in a Kosher supermarket or simply living openly as Jews in America. So, yes, we need safety through security – and DHS grants can help – but also through solidarity. We can never build walls that are high enough or fasten our networks tightly enough to ward out all evil. This is why we need all of you and all public figures to call out hate when it happens regardless of the source and why we hope other communities will stand with the Jewish community as we have sought to rally by their side in the face of racism and intolerance leveled in their direction.

I look forward to your questions. Thank you.