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More Thoughts on Linking OWS and Israel

How big should the tent be, and where should it be pitched?

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I strongly encourage everyone to go read Occupy Judaism activist Daniel Sieradski’s interview with Mondoweiss’ Adam Horowitz; they both do a great job getting quickly to the core of their disagreement, which seems to me to be over whether it is worth jeopardizing the economic message of Occupy Wall Street in favor of pro-Palestinian activism. (I have to think that Horowitz would ultimately admit that this is what he is advocating: as Sieradski tells him, “Knowing how long you yourself have been working on these issues, I am surprised that you would even entertain the idea that OWS won’t be significantly hurt by being seen as anti-Israel.”) Readers of this blog (and, now, readers of Mondoweiss) know where I stand on this, but I certainly am sympathetic to Horowitz’ complaint, “Do you understand why many Palestinian activists viewed the tweet’s deletion [the tweet expressed solidarity with last week’s flotilla] as a sign they are not welcomed in the OWS movement?” The big tent certainly should cut both ways.

Yet again I have trouble seeing how the protest two nights ago of a Birthright event served the broader purposes of OWS, or even the narrower ones of the protesters. It’s notable that the Zuccotti Park occupation is explicitly intended not to disrupt the neighborhood: it’s an occupation not in the sense of exerting control over others but in terms of staking a claim in a place where they felt they had none. Shouting down a speaker at a prearranged event, by contrast, feels like just the sort of thing that people who don’t understand what free speech is label “free speech.”

None of which makes the latest right-wing propaganda about OWS’ fundamental anti-Semitic-ness okay. Particularly amusing is this collection of accusations on Pajamas Media, which includes some anti-Semitic asshole responding to a Jewish man’s obvious provocations, and, pricelessly, an anti-Israel/anti-Semitic protester (he compares the Israelis’ actions in the territories to the Nazis’) getting into an argument with … a pro-Israel protester. Pajamas Media doesn’t point that the existence of both types of protesters suggests it might be wrong to paint the entire movement with the brush of just one of them.

Occupy Wall Street and the Struggle Over Israel/Palestine [Mondoweiss]
Occupy Bursts In on Birthright [New Voices]
Fresh Anti-Semitic Videos Coming Out of Occupy Wall Street [Pajamas Media]

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Lansing Reed says:

Marc, you’re seriously at sea here while pretending that you have both feet firmly on dry land.

Here are the facts.

OWS, ODC and all of the other “occupies” are infested with and animated by the hard left. The hard left is anti-Semitic to its core. OWS’s soft left “fellow traverlers” are, if not anti-Semites in the classical Marxist sense, then certainly anti-Israel to their core -they have no time for the oppressed women of Iran or the children murdered by Islamists in Nigeria or the Copts in Egypt, oddly only the “plight” of the “Palestinians” (the world’s biggest welfare queens) moves their needle.

The Tea Party was damned as racist based on nothing. The evidence of OWS’s anti-Semitism is open and clear. At some point, you must open your eyes.

Lansing Reed says:

Oh, and one more thing. It is really shameful of you to give any air at all to Horowitz. Based on his writing, it seems fair to speculate that in Russia, he would have been a member of the Jewish section of the Izvekia. Hard to say if he would have been a kapo in Germany – one would hope not. Today, he favors “pro-Palestinian” activism. What next – Jews for David Duke and Rev. Wright?

Is Occupy Wall Street Anti-Semitic?

Well, here’s one vivid if a tad, er, enthusiastic answer:

Of course, Occupy Wall Street doesn’t have to talk about the Middle East at all.

It could do something useful for America, like come up with specific demands for regulatory reform in financial services. Or tax policy.

For example, how about ending the mortgage deduction?

Or marching to Albany to demand that Coumo keep the millionaires’ tax?

Or that Congress put together a budget to put people back to work building mass transit and renovation green urban housing for the 99%?

The fact that they instead of talking about jobs and housing they occupy the Israeli Consulate does reveal a sort of fixation on Jews.

I haven’t heard OWS occupying the Turkish Consulate with a demand that Turkey stop murdering Kurds.

Or occupying the Consulate of Bahrain with a demand to end apartheid against the Shia.

Or occupying the Embassy of Romania to demand equal rights for Roma.

Or occupying the Greek and Italian consulates demanding that their governments straighten up before they crash the world economy.

Or, well, any foreign policy demands, except those that relate ot the Jewish State. There must be a word for that…

It’s disingenuous of Horowitz and others to claim that the tweet deletion was “a sign they are not welcomed in the OWS movement.” The logical extension of this point is that in order for these Palestinian activists to feel welcome, they must have support for singling out one country: Israel. In order for them to feel welcome, they need official recognition that Israel (as opposed to all other countries) must be included as a protest target within this American domestic and economic protest. In order for them to feel welcome, they require that Zionists do not feel welcome. How would these same people feel if some Zionists demanded that anti-Palestinian advocacy be a part of the Occupy movement or else they would take it as “a sign they are not welcomed in the OWS movement?”

As much as I appreciate the dogged reporting on OWS and antisemitism from a fair and realistic perspective, I’d prefer having further coverage Mondoweiss-free. Reputable sites shouldn’t be boosting site hits for a conspiracy-laden hate den.

Was the Birthright protest officially associated with Occupy or only peripherally related because the two protests had common protesters? The article you link to says:

“The protest was organized by two JVP members, Carolyn Klaasen and Liza Behrendt, who recently moved to New York and are interested in focusing some of the Occupy Wall Street energy on their cause. The mic check was a call for Jews to put an end to the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.””

Seems to me like opportunists trying to use Occupy’s success and national attention to direct the spotlight on their pet issue. What exactly is their “association with Occupy Wall Street?” The protest reflects badly on JVP.

andrew r says:

“which seems to me to be over whether it is worth jeopardizing the economic message of Occupy Wall Street in favor of pro-Palestinian activism.”

Have you ever heard anyone call the Civil Rights Movement pro-black?

andrew r says:

The main reason to “single out” Israel, IMO, is that in US officialdom there’s a vested interest in pretending Israel is not a chronic human rights abuser, i.e. that it’s a liberal democratic state with equal rights. Which is a load of crap. I’m not an Israeli citizen yet I can theoretically lease a plot of land there with no problems. An Israeli citizen who is not Jewish typically can’t without going through years of litigation (search for Adel Kaadan).

debrarae says:

I have already had the ‘displeasure’ of dealing with #ows activists. And if I had known these miscreants were in the area where I was, I would have avoided them.

As it was, I didn’t. And these people are antisemitic to the core. They hate Jews, the jews with them now are FOOLS to think they’ll ever be ‘liked’ by #OWS or any other liberal!

People should be free to protest and Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians should not set above or entitled to some kind of privileged exemption for being protested against for their policies.

Thanks Jules,

If anybody had any doubts that OWS is antisemitic, this video should remove them. Jules, you evidently hate Jews so much you can’t even recognize Jew hatred.

kol hakavod.

@andrew r In other words, protesting Israel has nothing at all to do with an economic and domestic protest. The correct term is singling out if no other countries are targeted. Given that the historical themes of antisemitism already coincide with the themes of the protest, a broad movement to single out Israel will absolutely tip the scales when it comes to benefit of the doubt most Jews are going to be willing to give the movement. Jews, including myself. Jews who at this moment also seem to include Marc Tracy.

There is a U.S. interest in pretending many things about many different allies. China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for example. Yes, singling out. For some strange reason, the people who keep trying to co-opt OWS for their own anti-Israel purposes conveniently don’t get any of the above. Don’t think that pretense doesn’t raise even further suspicions.

Mike it’s so simple for you to tar and feather these protestors and to go even further and demonize the entire OWS movement, but that’s exactly what narrow minded demagogues always in the face of dissenting opinions.

andrew r says:

“In other words, protesting Israel has nothing at all to do with an economic and domestic protest.”

Nope, military aid has nothing to do with any of that stuff. Or the fact that the USA claims to be a land of equal opportunity and supports a segregationist regime.

So if I understand you right, you are willing to give OWS the “benefit of the doubt,” yet “the historical themes of antisemitism already coincide with the themes of the protest” So I just gotta ask: When Ronnie called the Soviet Union an evil empire, wasn’t he sounding kinda like Hitler there? Hitler thought the Soviet Union was evil.

Yeah, I can tell you care more about protecting capitalism than fighting anti-semitism.

andrew r says:

Mike, maybe you can make this interesting and quote verbatim an anti-semitic line from that video. And if you think the anti-semitism is implied, explain where it’s coming from.

Seriously, you people aren’t even trying. Anti-semitism used to mean Jews aren’t supposed to live in gentile countries; now it means saying things about Israel that you don’t want to hear.

No, you did not understand me correctly and from your second comment you obviously need a refresher on what the definition of antisemitism is.

I support OWS. If I feel it is becoming antisemitic, I will not support it. Not too complicated. What you pretend not to understand is revealing.

Haaretz had an update on the Birthright protest. It was ten people.

andrew r says:

“So give me the definition. Put up or shut up.” That’s what I’d be saying if you didn’t already make clear “singling out” Israel is antisemitic which is ludicrous.

“If I feel it is becoming antisemitic, I will not support it.”

The thing is, I understood that much on the first take. What I don’t understand (and probably never will) is why you were compelled to liken the themes of OWS to historical themes of antisemitism if you actually support OWS.

Bill Pearlman says:

JVP is a bunch of assholes who would have made terrific kapos in the concentration camps.

Bill Pearlman says:

But its intersting to know that 70 years after Babi Yar the spiritual decendants of the shooters live. That’s Jewiish CVoice for Peace. Which should be known has kissing the ass of jihad


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