CAIR Calls On MSNBC to Ban ADL Boss Over ‘Iranian Proxies’ Remark

JP Yim/Getty
JP Yim/Getty

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling for MSNBC to ban Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt from its airwaves over recent comments he made about college students protesting against the war in Gaza.

During an appearance last Friday on Morning Joe, Greenblatt railed against the pro-Palestinian protests raging at Columbia University and other college campuses, describing them as antisemitic and threatening to Jewish students. He also took a shot at the two main organizations behind the demonstrations—the Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

“Iran has their military proxies like Hezbollah, and Iran has their campus proxies like these groups like SJP and JVP,” he declared.

In a statement on Thursday, CAIR Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell claimed that Greenblatt was defaming the groups and urged the network to stop booking Greenblatt.

“Falsely claiming that Jewish and Palestinian student organizations are literal proxies of the Iranian government is a dangerous and defamatory slander that has no place on MSNBC or any other television network,” Mitchell stated.

“No civil rights leader would ever equate Jewish and Palestinian college students with Hezbollah, analogize the Nazi swastika to the Palestinian keffiyeh or question whether Hamas sympathizers were writing MSNBC scripts,” he added. “Mr. Greenblatt’s increasingly unhinged and outrageous comments must be condemned, and MSNBC should no longer give him a platform to peddle his hate speech.”

Responding to CAIR’s comments about Greenblatt, an ADL spokesperson told The Daily Beast: “Let’s be clear about SJP and JVP. In the days following the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, SJP explicitly endorsed the actions of Hamas and their armed attacks on Israeli civilians and JVP’s leadership stated multiple times that Israel was the “root cause” of the violence. This is not criticism of the war or Israel, this is glorifying terrorists and blaming the victim.”

CAIR claims that this is at least the third time that Greenblatt has made inflammatory remarks on MSNBC’s airwaves without being challenged by the network’s hosts.

Shortly after the October 7 attacks that sparked the war, Greenblatt appeared on Morning Joe and blasted the channel’s reporting on the conflict and wondered if the network’s scripts were written by Hamas sympathizers. (MSNBC featured three Muslim anchors during that weekend’s coverage of the attacks on Israel.)

In a separate interview later that day, Greenblatt explained to another network that he had been “literally watching the words scroll down on the camera” during his Morning Joe appearance and thought, “Who are the people in the back who think it is reasonable to describe this as quote, unquote, resistance, or to make these claims as if there is some moral equivalency?” He also insisted that he was “looking for journalism not activism.”

Earlier this month, dozens of Muslim and Arab civil rights groups—including CAIR—condemned the ADL after Greenblatt seemingly compared the Palestinian keffiyeh to a swastika, urging the organization to fire him.

“This pattern of behavior must end,” the joint statement read. “The ADL should terminate Mr. Greenblatt, apologize for its history of bad-faith attacks on various communities, and stop attempting to defame, silence and endanger those who express support for Palestinian human rights. Until then, it is no ally in the fight against hate.”

Greenblatt reacted to this condemnation by claiming his comments were “unsurprisingly being taken entirely out of context by CAIR, an organization that seems to specialize in fiction rather than fact.” Saying hate speech shouldn’t be “tolerated whether the person is wearing a Nazi armband or a keffiyeh,” Greenblatt added that he was “not comparing the garb” but rather “comparing the hate speech and how it shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone.”

MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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