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Since buying Twitter, rebranded as X, billionaire Elon Musk, who calls himself a "free speech absolutist," has welcomed hatemongers to the platform, including one who recently coined the trending hashtag #BanTheADL.
The ADL, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, was founded in 1913 during the trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager wrongly convicted of murdering one of his young workers. After Georgia Gov. John Slaton commuted Frank's death sentence to life imprisonment, Frank was lynched. Since then, the ADL has aimed to fight antisemitism and secure "justice not only for Jews but for all people."
Musk attacked the ADL on Sept. 4, 2023, saying that "Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL."
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As #BanTheADL trended on X, users tweeted that it is "anti-Christian." One said, "When you say #BanTheADL, what you really mean is #BanTheJews from power and organizing against white western civilization."
The tweets may be new; as a scholar of Jewish history, I know the ideas they contain are not.
The belief that Jews are "anti-Christian" comes from the Gospels, where Jews are blamed for the crucifixion of Jesus. As Christianity became the dominant faith in the Roman Empire in the late fourth century, Jews, condemned by the church for their treachery, faced discrimination. Beginning with restrictive legislation, it led eventually to locked ghetto walls and brutal attacks.
Immigrants to America carried ideas about Jewish enmity along with their rucksacks. In 1654, New Amsterdam Gov. Peter Stuyvesant tried to expel 23 Jews fleeing persecution who had just landed in the colony. He called them a "deceitful race – such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ."
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In October 2022, when white supremacists hung banners over Highway 405 in Los Angeles, some news sites blurred one. That particular banner pointed to the Gospel of John, where Jesus tells the Jews, "You are from your father the devil."
And a few days after Musk blamed the ADL for ad revenue losses, a user of X posted a video of ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and wrote, "Watch his demonic face recoil when he says the word Christian."
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