Culture

Starbucks Cut the ADL From Black Lives Matter Anti-Bias Training. Is Anti-Semitism to Blame?

Protestors demonstrate outside a Starbucks on April 15, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Black Lives Matter activists, not content with Starbucks shutting down locations on May 29 to host an anti-bias training in response to an incident with police in Philadelphia, later pushed the company to drop the nation’s most prominent Jewish defense group from that training. On Monday, Starbucks announced it would drop the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of America’s most well-respected civil rights groups, from the training.

The ADL will still take an advisory role in Starbucks’ long-term efforts to combat discrimination, but the group will not help develop the curriculum for Starbucks’ mandatory anti-bias training, according to company spokeswoman Jamie Riley. This is peculiar, as the ADL has long taken a stand against police abuse, especially on racial issues.

Riley insisted that Starbucks was not caving to political pressure in dropping ADL from the curriculum. “We are architecting a multi-phase approach to addressing bias,” she told POLITICO.

“When Starbucks asked for assistance, we agreed to help,” ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick told POLITICO. “As to whether Starbucks may or may not now want to utilize our expertise, you should ask them.”

The Black Lives Matter movement has a long history of anti-Semitism. In 2016, the Movement for Black Lives, an umbrella of BLM-affiliated groups, accused the state of Israel of committing genocide. The ADL supports the state of Israel and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, told ABC News, “You can’t be a piece of an anti-bias training when you openly support a racist, oppressive and brutal colonization of Palestine.”

Indeed, many liberal activists have accused Israel of being a “white supremacist state,” but Lonnie Poindexter, a black radio host who recently spent a week in Israel with a group of 30 African-American pastors, told PJ Media that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“We saw an Ethiopian community, it’s really something to see,” Poindexter said. He described meeting a group of “IDF [Israeli Defense Force] troops between 20 and 25 years old, all female, with a lieutenant who was a black Ethiopian Jew, with an AK strapped on her back.”

Nonetheless, many BLM activists are dead-set against Israel, and against the ADL. Tragically, this seems to stem from anti-Semitism spread by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black supremacist group the Nation of Islam. Black Lives Matter joined a March protest in support of Farrakhan in Washington, D.C.

“So you are aware, Starbucks was on a decent track until they enlisted the Anti Defamation League [sic] to build their anti-bias training. The ADL is CONSTANTLY attacking black and brown people,” Tamika Mallory, a Woman’s March organizer and champion of the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeted. “This is a sign that they are tone deaf and not committed to addressing the concerns of black folks.”

Mallory herself came under fire for attending a speech by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, an infamous anti-Semite, on February 25. In that speech, Farrakhan declared that “the Jews have control over” the FBI.

As for the allegation that ADL is “CONSTANTLY attacking black and brown people,” this seems to stem from the group’s work with police.

The Washington, D.C. chapter of Black Lives Matter also complained about ADL’s participation in the Starbucks training. “[ADL] is ultra pro-cop. They testified in favor, with glowing accolades of [D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham]’s nomination and wouldn’t confirm this shirt worn by [D.C. Police] gun recovery unit officers included a KKK ‘suncross’ replacing the letter ‘O,'” the BLM chapter tweeted.

This seems an odd complaint against the ADL. The Jewish group has long warned about the symbol, and news outlets cited ADL when identifying it as a KKK symbol. Newsham, for his part, did not defend the cop who wore the shirt, but explicitly attacked him.

“This is disgraceful and does not represent the hard working and committed officers of the Seventh District,” Newsham tweeted.

ADL did not support the shirt, but it did welcome Newsham as the D.C. police chief — months before the incident occurred.

The D.C. BLM chapter also cited a statement from ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt about Black Lives Matter. In that letter, Greenblatt declared that his organization is dedicated to advocating “for the fair treatment of African-Americans at the hands of police.”

“Police brutality, mass incarceration, racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline are legitimate topics of discussion both in an educational setting and in the larger community. That is why we have developed educational materials that encourage critical thinking skills among students tied to these and other current events,” Greenblatt added. He made clear that ADL firmly supports the fundamental cause at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement.

So why didn’t Greenblatt endorse BLM in that statement? “We are well aware that a small minority of leaders within the Black Lives Matter movement have supported anti-Israel — and at times anti-Semitic — positions,” he noted.

“We have repeatedly made clear that we take offense at those positions and have strongly condemned statements made by those who have expressed support for efforts to boycott and divest from the State of Israel,” Greenblatt added. “We will continue to call out such statements because they often are rooted in bigotry and do nothing to advance a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Rather, they only perpetuate hostility and hate.”

Indeed, the D.C. chapter of BLM declared, “We expected to be called antiSemetic [sic] for telling the truth about [the ADL] it comes with the work. We get death threats for fighting the IDF trained occupying forces of [D.C. Police] in our Black neighborhoods but we’ll continue exposing the trainers and their supporters.”

While American police often train in Israel, this does not implicate Israel in any of the high-profile police shootings of black men. Furthermore, BLM’s characterization of D.C. police (who took a special class in the area’s African-American history last month) as an “occupying force” is needlessly aggressive and likely to foster more distrust between African-Americans and the local police.

Starbucks claimed that dropping the ADL from the anti-bias training had nothing to do with political pressure from Black Lives Matter. Even if that is the case, it is tragic that the nation’s foremost Jewish defense group was cut out of this discussion, and that there are troubling ties between many BLM leaders and Louis Farrakhan.