Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are The Occupy Wall Street Protests Inherently Anti-Semitic? (Hint: No)

Oct. 10, 2011 - In this photo, hundreds gather at Occupy Wall Street to celebrate Yom Kippur.....

....and in this photo, a single anti-Semitic whackjob holds up his sign. Guess who got more press?

Do a Google News search with the words "Occupy Wall Street" and/or "Yom Kippur" or "Sukkot". Got it? Good. Now do another search with the words "Occupy Wall Street" and "anti-semitic".

Notice anything?

I did. The first search will get you about 60 blog posts about the various Yom Kippur and Sukkot services being held at Occupy Wall Street protests around the country.

The second search will get you three times as many articles from major mainstream TV, print, and internet news outlets (Washington Post, Politico, Forbes, The Daily Caller, etc...) describing Occupy Wall Street protests as having a "problem." with anti-semitism.

It's a pattern as predictable as it is infuriating. First, Rush Limbaugh, then conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks began cherry picking isolated anti-Semitic incidents to undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In an October 10 column dismissing the Wall Street protests as “trivial sideshows,” Brooks wrote:

Take the Occupy Wall Street movement. This uprising was sparked by the magazine Adbusters, previously best known for the 2004 essay, “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” — an investigative report that identified some of the most influential Jews in America and their nefarious grip on policy.

The Emergency Committee For Israel, a far-right Republican group run by Bill Kristol,  was next with this video showing three anti-Semites and two anti-Semitic signs among the protesters in New York - out of a crowd of thousands.

So what's the endgame here? The Jewish Journal lays it out.

I don’t know the first time the tactic was used, although it dates back almost to the beginning of the Jewish diaspora.

Perhaps its most famous use was by the viciously anti-Semitic Czar Nicholas, whose supporters concocted the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” at the start of the 20th century to prevent Russians from joining socialist movements and other reform efforts that were fighting to get the czar to cede some power to an elected parliament.....

The Protocols have had a long life, used by the czar, the Nazis, and even today by extremist and fringe Muslim groups opposed to the existence of Israel.

But they were primarily used not so much against the Jews as against reform and revolution. Linking a progressive movement to the Jews would destroy progressive movements and preserve the power of those in control.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a bizarre variant of this phenomenon is now being deployed against Occupy Wall Street.

Because utilizing anti-Semitism directly would not succeed in this country today, the reactionary defenders of the economic status quo are using the flip side of the coin: the fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. They are accusing Occupy Wall Street of anti-Semitism, relying on the old myth that Wall Street is Jewish and hence that opposition to Wall Street’s agenda is just opposition to Jews.

The mainstream media, whether through incompetence or ignorance, is more than happy to carry water for the likes of Limbaugh, Brooks and Kristol, and by extension, the corporations who pay them.

This story yesterday from LA Weekly is typical.

Anti-Semitism in the community of protesters came to a head this week after an LAUSD teacher identified as Shirley MacAllister unleashed her own rant at Occupy L.A. downtown. It was aired last night on CBS Los Angeles.

Here's what she said:

I think that the Zionist Jews that are running these big banks and the Federal reserve, which is not run by the federal government, need to be run out of this country.

What the LA Weekly left out however (but the CBS news report, which I posted above, did not), was that on the same day that video was shot, nearly a hundred people gathered just a few feet away for "A Just Sukkah", to celebrate the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. The event was co-sponsored by Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the American Jewish University, CLUE-LA, Habonim Dror, IKAR, PJA & JFSJ, Sholem Community, USC, and Workmen's Circle.

Look, anti-Semitism should be roundly criticized whenever it rears it's ugly head. And that includes Occupy Wall Street. But that's not what's going on here. This is the first in what will be a long line of smears meant to discredit a growing and popular movement.

The elites are scared as hell.

A photo is worth a thousand words. Below are some of my photos from the Occupy LA Sukkot services. THIS is what the real relationship is between Jews and the Occupy Movement.

Pass it on.

Holding up the etrog and lulav, used in a blessing ceremony

A member of ACCE discusses the mortgage and housing crisis with partipants
Participants break out into separate study groups to discuss issues brought up by Occupy Wall Street
Overwhelmed with emotion, this woman hadn't been involved in any
protest movement since the freedom riders.

You can see the rest of my photos here.


  1. "....and in this photo, a single anti-Semitic whackjob holds up his sign. Guess who got more press?"


    Consider that Tea Party reciprocity... G-d knows lefties and the media got plenty of play using isolated "whackjobs" (and a few "crashers" pretending to be tea partiers) to paint the whole group as fringe, racist, whatnots - and people like me "uncle toms."

    Cry me a river.

  2. Hey Oak Tree,

    How many Tea Party rallies you been to? Because between those and the health care reform rallies, I've to enough to last a lifetime. It's hard to cherry-pick whackjobs when you're marinating in them and literally can't turn around without being confronted by some racist piece of shit holding up a birther sign.

    Cry me a river indeed.