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Wikipedia claims American Jewish organization ADL is “unreliable”

A group of Wikipedia editors disagrees with the ADL’s approach to covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the organization and other Wikipedia contributors argue that the criticism is unfounded.

Wikipedia (Lionel Bonaventure / AFP)

The ""Wikipedia"" logo is seen on a tablet screen on December 4, 2012 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

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According to American media, Wikipedia editors have decided to declare the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism, as a “generally unreliable source” due to disagreements over the ADL's approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As a result of the decision, Wikipedia will no longer allow citing information from the ADL in articles, except in exceptional cases.

Consequently, the ADL is now included on Wikipedia's list of “generally unreliable sources” ALONGSIDE Russian state media, Fox News political coverage, and Amazon reviews.

Wikipedia editors will also vote on whether to classify the ADL as an unreliable source on antisemitism. If approved, this could significantly undermine the credibility of one of the world's most important organizations dedicated to combating antisemitism.

The ADL has consistently defended Israel for decades, especially after the October 7 massacre, which has made it a frequent target of harsh criticism from anti-Israel groups.

The editors have not provided any evidence to support their claim that the ADL provides unreliable information 

Wikipedia editors justified the decision in a forum discussion, arguing that the ADL's dual role as a research organization and what they consider a pro-Israel advocacy group, hinders its ability to provide unbiased reporting on Israel and antisemitism.

One of the editors, known as Loki, stated that the ADL is “heavily biased” and that it acts as a “pro-Israel lobbying organization.” She added that it can and does "compromise its ability to accurately report facts regarding people and organizations that disagree with it on this issue, especially non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jews and Jewish organizations."

However, editors who opposed the measure claimed that no evidence has been provided to support the claim that the ADL published false, unreliable or incorrect information.

The ADL's forceful response

An ADL spokesperson said in a statement that "it is deeply disturbing that the many editors who flagged the severe flaws and inaccuracies in both the reasoning and sources being used in this campaign to delegitimize ADL are being ignored."

The spokesperson added that those editors who opposed the decision "have provided point-by-point refutations, grounded in factual citations, to every claim made, but apparently facts no longer matter."

The ADL called the decision a sad development for research and education and stated that it is "devastating for the Jewish community and society."

The organization stressed that, despite this setback, it will continue working to fight antisemitism. However, it warned that Wikipedia's decision will prevent reliable information about antisemitism from reaching the public.

Wikipedia editors blamed ADL director Greenblatt

Some Wikipedia editors took issue with ADL leaders equating antisemitism with anti-Zionism.

The editors cited a statement by Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the ADL, at an organization event last March. He said, “Let’s make this very clear: Anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Anti-Zionism is a negation of Jewish history, a denial of Jewish humanity.”

A Wikipedia editor, known as Sameboat, called Greenblatt's statements “biased" opinions. Additionally, he claimed that the ADL leader presents the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a “manipulative” way.

In statements to CNN, James Loeffler, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, argued that the ADL has taken a much more aggressive stance than most academic researchers in blurring the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. He added that the Wikipedia editors' conversation reflects that they are heavily influenced by the comments of ADL leaders.

Loeffler also praised the ADL's work, emphasizing its role in monitoring antisemitic threats and hate groups. The professor claimed that the organization has done beneficial work in providing the world with information and data on antisemitism, particularly because there are very few groups that engage in this type of research.

The disagreements between the ADL and the conservatives

While the ADL's work is valued by many, the organization has faced increasing disagreements with conservatives in recent years.

According to the conservative outlet Breitbart, the ADL was once supported by both conservatives and progressives but has since distanced itself from the former.

Jewish lawyer and journalist Joel Pollak of Breitbart said the ADL has grown closer to the Democratic Party over the past decade.

Pollak, a strong supporter of Israel, illustrated his point by noting that in 2021, ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt urged Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson after the host suggested that Democrats were importing large numbers of illegal immigrants to boost their voter base. However, Pollak pointed out that Greenblatt did not address MSNBC's Rev. Al Sharpton's numerous antisemitic statements, despite frequently appearing on his show.

In any case, it's also important to note that the conflict between Tucker Carlson and the ADL may stem from some of Carlson's controversial statements, which several analysts have deemed antisemitic.