Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Lots of people, mostly conservatives, have been making a big  brouhaha about anti-Jewish sentiment at Occupy Wall Street.  They have a new poster child with the Jew hating remarks made by Patricia McAllister, a former teacher (she got fired for her remarks) in the LA School District in an interview during an Occupy LA rally. 

In an interview given last Wednesday to Reason TV during an Occupy LA protest, Patricia McAllister  said, "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."

She re-iterated this sentiment during a later interview with Fox11, in which she said "Jews have been run out of 109 countries throughout history, and we need to run them out of this one."

Again, she made these remarks during an interview with a right wing libertarian operation at the rally and then later with a local TV news program.  She wasn't a speaker at the rally.  She wasn't applauded by the rally.  She was a person in the crowd.  

You can't really be there to monitor what everyone attending a rally says.

Have their been Jew haters trying to infiltrate the movement.  Absolutely.  I have battled them on line right here in Kansas City.  Yes, they are there.  However, 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. 

They are not, however, the overwhelmingly mass of folks in the Occupy X movement.  

Is it a danger that the movement and others should keep an eye on and expose?  

Again, absolutely.

However, to accuse the movement of being anti-semetic is a joke.  Those who do it have an agenda of their own.  They are frightened by a growing movement that has the potential to become something scary to the powers that be, the reactionary forces in this country, maybe, who knows, one day to capital itself (it ain't there yet, but I hold out hope).  Those who make these accusations masquerade as defenders of the Jewish people, they pretend to be concerned about bigotry.  They could care less.  They are trying to use Jews and the issue "anti-semitism" for their own ends.  Jews mean no more to these people who cast stones at the Occupy Movement, then do blacks, latinos, other People of Color, or working men and women.  It is, after all, their side of the political spectrum whom have persecuted these people over the years with the most consistency.

When I called the Jew haters out in Kansas City Occupy movement, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive from the Occupiers.  

Last Saturday, one of the nazi types showed up at a rally in Kansas City, at the start of a march, and tried to pass out leaflets.  He was quickly surrounded by Occupiers who commenced to, shall we say, argue.  

Again, I for one will try to keep on top of this.  The same thing happened in the anti-globalization movement and in the protests of the war in Iraq.  Jew hating nazis, right wing populists, and some right wing libertarians are not stupid  (though we like to say they are).  They will seize on any opportunity to peddle their hate.  This is especially dangerous in what amounts to a populist movements with all kinds of people participating and many who are simply naive.  They can be fodder for the cleaver white supremacists, nazis and simple Jew haters and bigots.  They must be confronted by the movement head on.  

Somehow I doubt if the folks in the article below are sitting around ignoring Jew haters.  I'm not a religious man, not a religious Jew.  For me holding religious ceremonies at movement sites would is a little weird, but hey, it ain't my movement, and I understand why it happens.  Again, this isn't a Marxist or a left wing political movement.  It is a populist movement, hopefully, a progressive populist movement, but a populist movement all the same.  As such, it has plenty of religious participants and supporters.  However everyone must emphasize that this is not a religious movment and it shouldn't become one.   Also, the movement should be intolerant of those who might wish to preach, for example, an anti-abortion or an anti gay message under the guise of religion.  There should be no room for that.  

By the way, almost every populist movement which has ever existed in this country has had it anti-semetic elements.  This one will, too.  The question is what influence the Jew haters have and how the movement reacts to them

Anyway, does the article below from Jewish Journal make you think of anti-semitism.  I think not.

Jewish groups rally in sukkah at Occupy Los Angeles


Protester Joshua Zain participating in the blessing with a lulav and etrog in the sukkah at Occupy Los Angeles. Photo by Rachel Davidson
Protester Joshua Zain participating in the blessing with a lulav and etrog in the sukkah at Occupy Los Angeles. Photo by Rachel Davidson
As part of the Occupy Los Angeles movement, hundreds of Angelenos have been living in tents outside downtown’s City Hall for several weeks. On Oct. 16, Jewish groups rallied in a sukkah alongside these temporary shelters. 

“I think of a sukkah as a structure that’s full of vulnerability,” said Elissa Barrett, chief of regional operations for Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jewish Funds for Justice (PJA & JFSJ), a participant in the demonstration. “It forces us to look at what’s happening in the world around us.”

In solidarity with the protestors of Occupy Los Angeles — an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street and similarly anti-corporate — several 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.” 

The collaborators included Rabbi Jonathan Klein of CLUE-LA (Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice); Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen of Temple Ner Maarav; Lauren Henderson, a rabbinical student at American Jewish University (AJU); Rabbi Aryeh Cohen of American Jewish University; Charlie Carnow, a CLUE-LA board member; and Maya Barron of PJA & JFSJ. 

Around 1 p.m., approximately 100 people, with many more filtering in and out, gathered around the 10-by-10-by-8-foot sukkah located, as it happened, in the “anarchist section” of Occupy L.A., Klein said.
Participants recited chants, sang, danced and broke off into chevruta groups to study texts about Sukkot from Leviticus and the Mishnah. 

Approximately 300 tents have been erected as part of Occupy Los Angeles, and most house several people. On Oct. 15, the Occupy Los Angeles movement reached its greatest number of participants, with nearly 15,000 people taking part in a march from Pershing Square through the financial district and back to the Occupy site at City Hall, according to news reports.

Planning for the Occupy Los Angeles sukkah began earlier this month.
“Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen calls me and says, ‘We’ve got to do a sukkah down at Occupy L.A.,’ and I immediately thought of some of the people who would really get into that idea,” Klein said in an interview outside the sukkah. “Voila! A week-and-a-half later, we have a sukkah with over 100 people, probably 200 people, here learning Torah and learning about foreclosures and learning about the plight of tomato growers.”

Throughout the day, Henderson and fellow AJU rabbinical student Joshua Corber — who said they planned to sleep in the sukkah that night — answered questions from passers-by about what, to many, looked like a strange, but welcoming, structure. Etrogs, lulavs, challahs and handouts about the day’s program covered a table, the only furniture in the sukkah. 

“The food hanging [from the ceiling] makes it look like it’s raining plentiful food. I think it’s great,” said Shane Portman, 31, who, with his fiancée, stopped to visit.
The sukkah builders didn’t need a permit, but Occupy Los Angeles organizers requested that the sukkah be approximately 10 feet by 10 feet, in accordance with city regulations; a height requirement wasn’t specified, Klein said.

Early that day, Klein and the others showed up with their materials. “It was wonderful ... we parked across the street in a no-parking zone, and five guys with tattoos and lip piercings and everything ran across the street, pulled all the stuff, brought it over here, and we created our sukkah,” Klein said.
Prayer sessions were planned to take place each evening and, provided there are enough people, minyans in the mornings.

The “Just Sukkah” event participants hailed from numerous Jewish organizations, among them Habonim Dror, IKAR, the Sholem Community, PJA & JFSJ, The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring and the Jewish Labor Committee.
Members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (the latter advocating for the rights of farm workers) — neither of which is a Jewish group — also attended the rally in the sukkah. Beverly Roberts, a South Los Angeles resident and a member of ACCE, discussed her financial problems, her inability to get a loan from the bank and the possibility that she will face foreclosure on her home.

Barrett said the Jewish presence at Occupy L.A. did not automatically indicate her organization’s support for the movement. Because part of the mandate of being Jewish is to ask questions, she said, PJA & JFSJ came to learn more about what’s been happening on the ground.

“We’re happy to have people engaging in the conversation. This isn’t about validating or invalidating,” she said.
Klein, meanwhile, threw his full support behind the Occupy Los Angeles demonstrators. “It’s purely around the question of economic justice …  So, from a CLUE perspective, we’re completely on board.”

Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR weighed in on the motives of the people behind the movement.

“I think many people are driven here for a lot of different reasons — some of which I agree with, and some of which are much more challenging for me personally,” Brous said. “But what I think is great is there is a rising of voices in this country and around the world calling for economic justice, for more opportunity, for more possibility and for a better future ... I think that’s a very good thing.”

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