(JTA) — A Women’s March leader mired in controversy because of her association with the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has attacked Starbucks for including the Anti-Defamation League among its advisers on bias.
Tamika Mallory in a tweet Tuesday evening accused the Jewish group of “constantly attacking black and brown people.”
The coffee giant said Tuesday that it had solicited counseling from a number of groups, including the ADL, the NAACP and others, after national outrage following the arrest last weekend of two black men sitting at one of its Philadelphia outlets.
Starbucks announced Tuesday that it would close its more than 8,000 stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education with staff.
“So you are aware, Starbucks was on a decent track until they enlisted the Anti-Defamation League to build their anti-bias training,” Mallory tweeted. “The ADL is CONSTANTLY attacking black and brown people. This is a sign that they are tone deaf and not committed to addressing the concerns of black folks. Be clear about what’s happening here.”
Mallory wasn’t specific in her criticism, although the ADL had criticized her and Women’s March in February after Mallory tweeted enthusiastically about her attendance at a speech in which Farrakhan attacked Jews, women and the LGBTQ community.
The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, was one of several national and local experts Starbucks had asked to consult on racial bias following the weekend’s incident. The others include Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Mallory indicated that there are some “great” Jewish organizations that fight racism.
“My people … don’t be fooled … Pay close attention to the entire CHESS BOARD #boycottstarbucks,” she wrote in a second tweet, which also said that the ADL “should have never been enlisted in the first place. There are other great Jewish orgs who fight racism of All kinds every day: Jews for Racial Economic Justice (JFREG) [sic], Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Jewish Voice for Peace.”
The ADL’s defenders noted that it has a long record in reporting hate crimes and bias against all groups, and has trained law enforcement in recognizing and addressing bias for decades, often in partnership with African-American and civil rights organizations.
Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, backed the ADL in a tweet.
“I support the ADL’s work against white supremacists, politicians who feed hate and everyday acts of intolerance,” wrote Tanden, who is Indian American. “I appreciate that they’ve criticized political leaders at the highest levels who are attacking minority groups of all kinds.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, also offered her support for the ADL. While acknowledging that she often disagrees with the organization on some of the stands it takes, particularly on Israel, she said that dismissing ADL as racist “ignores history.”
“The @ADL National is one of the oldest & most respected anti-hate groups in the US,” Jacobs tweeted. “They’ve long understood that fighting anti-Semitism must include fighting racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. Their legal & advocacy work is a testament to this conviction.”
On Tuesday, Greenblatt, who worked in the White House as a special assistant to President Barack Obama, said he was “proud” to work with Starbucks and the other organizations chosen to provide advice on racial bias.
“This is a crucial next step in fighting implicit bias,” he tweeted.