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Thursday, October 20, 2011
BILL BERKOWITZ'S TAKE ON CHARGES OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT
my friend Bill is a happy guy
Bill Berkowitz is my friend and he quotes me quite a bit in this piece. So, what do ya think? Of course, I am going to post it. Anyway, it is not a bad follow up on my post here yesterday on duplicitous charges relating to anti-semitism in the Occupy movement. This one was posted at BuzzFlash.
And yes, I know I misspelled anti-semitism yesterday. What can I tell you?
Conservatives Try to Smear Occupy Movement with Charges of Anti-Semitism
There may be isolated incidents of anti-Semitism within the Occupy movement but there is little evidence that it is a driving force.
During an Occupy LA protest, Patricia McAllister, a substitute teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), told Reason TV that "the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our federal reserve -- which is not run by the federal government -- they need to be run out of this country." In a later interview with Fox11, she said "Jews have been run out of 109 countries throughout history, and we need to run them out of this one."
Whatever else she may be, McAllister, who was not a speaker at the rally and who was subsequently fired by the District for her comments, has become the poster child for the right; proof positive that the Occupy Movement is brimming with anti-Semites.
Are there a significant number of participants in the Occupy Movement engaged in anti-Semitic behavior? Where is the anti-Semitism coming from? How does a "leaderless" movement deal with its outliers?
Just as it was important to point out the anti-Semitic and racist signs that were visible at Tea Party rallies and events, it is important to scrutinize the Occupy Movement as well. It is also important to note that incidents of Tea Party racism were broadly spread across the movement. (See "Race and the Tea Party Movement" -- http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributors/2159.)
Conservatives try to discredit Occupy movement
Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began a little over a month ago, conservatives have denounced it, and repeatedly attempted to marginalize and discredit it from all sorts of angles. Last week, David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com ran a piece titled "ACORN: Puppet Master of Occupy Wall Street." Rush Limbaugh and other right wing talk radio hosts have fulminated against it numerous times.
Now, the right has seized on some evidence of anti-Semitism amongst Occupy Wall Street participants. They have produced videos of demonstrators making anti-Semitic remarks and carrying anti-Semitic signs, and have written columns and blog posts expressing their "outrage," and calling on Democrats to denounce the movement.
In an effort aimed at characterizing the Occupy Movement as rife with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks, The Emergency Committee For Israel (http://www.committeeforisrael.com/) has posted a video of a young man taunting an elderly Jewish man wearing a yarmulke. In the video, the young man says, "I work, earn seven dollars an hour. You have the money. You don't speak English? You are from Israel? Go back to Israel." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIlRQCPJcew&feature=youtu.be).
The featured headline at the Emergency Committee's website is "Hate at Occupy Wall Street Protests." According to its website, the group's board is made up of longtime conservative William Kristol, the founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, Gary Bauer, the former head of the Family Research Council, and Rachel Abrams, a contributor to a number of conservative publications.
In a New York Times column dated October 10, David Brooks wrote that the Occupy Wall Street movement "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."
Commentary magazine's assistant online editor Alana Goodman pursued that theme in a piece that charged "the main organizer behind the movement - Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn - [with having] a history of anti-Jewish writing." Goodman ended by writing that she wasn't saying "the Occupy Wall Street movement itself is anti-Semitic. But if the top organizer behind the Tea Party turned out to have published a blacklist of American Jews he claimed had dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel, the backlash from the media would be massive. And if the top leader of the Tea Party fought a legal battle with the U.S. Holocaust Museum over an offensive collage he made using Warsaw Ghetto photos, politicians certainly wouldn't be lining up to support the movement" (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/10/13/occupy-wall-street-kalle-lasn/).
"Democratic leaders have spent the last week championing the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement, yet in the midst of protestors' extreme anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments, they've been silent," Sean Spicer, Communications Director for GOP.com wrote earlier this week. Spicer called on Democratic Party leaders to denounce the Occupy Movement.
JWF, a guest blogger for the conservative publication Human Events, wrote: "I hope Democrats and their 'occupier' mob are happy. Unfortunately for Obama, this won't count as a job saved or created. Democrats who have embraced this pathetic movement have said nary a peep about the ugliness we're seeing on a daily basis. The media seemingly has little interest in holding their feet to the fire."
On The O'Reilly Factor, journalist Bernard Goldberg said that while he didn't "know how widespread this [anti-Semitism] is," he allowed that "There were signs out at 'Occupy Los Angeles' that were clearly anti-Semitic."
Charles Wolf, writing on his Daily Mail blog, warned Jews to stay away from a movement that is "anti-democratic, anti-liberal and goes against mainstream Jewish thought."
"The movement is anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic," Wolf wrote. "There has been no shortage of vile anti-Semitic slogans at the occupy Wall Street protest. These are more than just insinuations, but signs equating Jews with banks and the rich, protesting U.S. foreign relations with Israel (especially defence funding), mention of the Rothschild family and asking people to Google 'Jewish Billionaires.'"
The right is 'exploiting anti-Semitism'
On the flip side, MJ Rosenberg, writing in the Jewish Journal, wrote that "An ugly old tradition is back: exploiting anti-Semitism to break the backs of popular movements that threaten the power of the wealthiest 1 percent of our population." Rosenberg noted that "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."
And Ryan Torok recently reported in the Jewish Journal that a group of "Jewish clergy, community organizers and rabbinical students came together to organize the protest in the sukkah, billed as 'Not Just a Sukkah: A JUST Sukkah at Occupy L.A.'"
Randy Gould, a longtime activist based in Kansas City, Missouri, who has been in close contact with people in the Kansas City Occupy movement, told me that when he "called the Jew haters out in Kansas City Occupy movement, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive from the Occupiers." Gould noted that "Last Saturday, when one of the Nazi types showed up at the start of a march and rally in Kansas City, and tried to pass out leaflets, he was quickly surrounded by Occupiers who quickly isolated him."
Gould, who publishes the online publication SCISSION (http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/), formerly, The Oread Daily, pointed out that there has "been Jew haters trying to infiltrate the movement." They are there, but "they represent no one but themselves and the normal Jew haters and some of the Ron Paul supporters as well. Some are Nazis, some are conspiracy theorists, some are right wing libertarians, some are this that and the other thing."
In an email Gould made it clear that he doesn't think the movement is anti-Semitic. Those expressing anti-Semitic views do not represent "the overwhelmingly mass of folks in the movement."
The issue of anti-Semitism "is being used by those who want to attack the movement for their own reasons," Gould said. Both anti-Semitism and the right-wingers trying to smear the movement are a "danger that the movement should keep an eye on and expose."
Whenever a mass movement is launched, all sorts of people with all sorts of political agendas will try to attach themselves to it, especially if it looks to. That was evidenced during the first Gulf War, at the WTO protests, and during the protests before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
As Gould noted, "Jew hating Nazis, right wing populists, and some right wing libertarians will seize any opportunity to peddle their hate. This is especially dangerous in what amounts to a populist movement with all kinds of people participating and many who are simply naive. They can be fodder for the clever white supremacists, Nazis and bigots. That being said, they must be confronted head on by the movement."