Action Alert:  Oppose ADL for “anti-bias” training on California campuses

Action Alert:  Oppose ADL for “anti-bias” training on California campuses

Something is happening at the University of California and California State University systems that we need to halt!

Following lobbying by the Anti Defamation League (ADL)  and the Jewish Public Affairs Committee last year, the University of California and the California State University received a $1.2 million legislative grant for anti-bias training on campus.

ADL is a powerful zionist organization that has lobbied for years to shut down criticism of Israel; it has a history of spying on and smearing progressive organizations and minority communities; and has repeatedly pressured universities to punish students and faculty who advocate for Palestinian rights.

The bidding process for the training is set up so that almost certainly only ADL will qualify for the grant.   The award is scheduled to be announced on June 7th.

If ADL is selected, it will bring a deep anti-Palestinian bias to its “anti-bias” training for California students and faculty – and be paid $1.2 million to do so!

It is critical that we use our voices to oppose ADL’s efforts to indoctrinate students. 



The California Legislature awarded $1.2 million to the University of California and California State University systems to conduct anti-bias training; the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) played a prominent role in lobbying the Legislature for this training.

ADL may well be selected to conduct this anti-bias training, although it is far from a neutral voice. ADL is well-known for its highly partisan position in the debate over Israel-Palestine, casting support for Palestinians as “antisemitic.” Because the organization openly supports a racist, oppressive occupation, it is hardly the right choice to run anti-bias training.

In addition to its clear position on Israel/Palestine, ADL has  undermined the rights of Black, immigrant, queer, Muslim, Arab and other marginalized communities. See here, here and here).

ADL has subjected a number of progressive orgs to unlawful surveillance and smear campaigns over the years, including the National Lawyers Guild, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, United Farm Workers, Vanguard Public Foundation, San Francisco Labor Council/AFL-CIO, NAACP, MADRE, Greenpeace, Center for Constitutional Rights and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. More recently, the groups targeted by the ADL include the Movement for Black Lives, Chicago Dyke March Collective and Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

ADL also takes aim against progressive individuals, particularly people of color. For example, it has run campaigns against Representatives Keith Ellison, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib ,the first Muslim-American Congress members, parroting false accusations of antisemitism. (See here, here and here.)

The ADL has put out a campus guide about how to censor events that would educate students about Palestine, and has fueled Islamophobia.

In its zeal to control the narrative about Israel/Palestine, ADL has had frequent confrontations with UC and CSU faculty, students and administrations. A few prominent examples include:

  • In 2009, ADL targeted a professor at UCSB who had assigned readings critical of Israel’s occupation and military assaults on Gaza. It pressured university officials to open an investigation. (The university eventually dismissed the case.)
  • In 2011, ADL and other pro-Israel groups pressured UC Hastings Law School to cancel a conference on legal avenues for pursuing Palestinian rights. (Hastings ultimately withdrew sponsorship over the objections of nearly all its tenured faculty and student government. The conference was held at Hastings, although without Hastings official sponsorship.)
  • In 2012, ADL was hired by then UC President Yudof to do a Jewish Student Campus Climate Report. Its main recommendation: censorship. (The report was never adopted.)
  • In 2016, ADL pressured UC Berkeley to cancel a course titled “Palestine — A Settler-Colonial Analysis,” even though it had been vetted and approved by the appropriate authorities. (Faculty and student protest compelled the administration to reinstate the course.)

Although administrations have largely resisted ADL pressure thanks to campus and community outcry, the time and resources diverted to fending off these threats to academic freedom have had a significant negative impact on university life and operations.

University administrators should consider ADL’s track record at their own schools as well as in the larger arena. Recall that Starbucks recently sacked the organization as an anti-bias trainer; ADL supports unconstitutional, anti-free speech legislation aimed at supporters of boycotts for Palestinian rights; it also sponsors exchange programs that bring American police to learn “best practices and lessons learned in fighting terror.”

Regardless of its likely use of neutral language in the bid, an award of funding for anti-bias training to ADL would be a betrayal of students and faculty who have been adversely affected by its actual biased intervention in campus discourse. The leadership in the universities should contract instead with a group or groups that have a reputable record of anti-bias training and no history of political enmity toward progressive and minority communities.

Please go here (it’s easy and fast!) to contact the administrators of the University of California and California State. Let them know that ADL is a bad choice and you expect them to do what’s right.

ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt with Israeli president
Photo tweeted by ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt of him with Israeli president. (photo)

Our operations are funded solely by generous individuals like you. Your contribution will help us continue shining a light on the Israel/Palestine situation and the U.S. connection.


Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.