Is the ‘Adbusters’ Guy Anti-Semitic?
Why it shouldn’t matter (even if it probably does)
Kalle Lasn, the man behind the magazine that launched Occupy Wall Street, continues to open up about what he was trying to do when Adbusters called for an “occupation” on September 17. I wish he wouldn’t. “He remains incensed that the incident was mentioned in a recent column by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist,” reports—who else?—the Times, in reference to the 2004 article, “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” and “he has been involved in a discussion with the paper’s letters page about how he can address it.” Lasn adds, “There’s not an anti-Semitic bone in my body. If we’re going to start wars based on the power of neocons’ influence in foreign policy, I think people should know who they are.”
The article is here. Personally, I find it pretty objectionable. “The point is simply that the neocons seem to have a special affinity for Israel that influences their political thinking and consequently American foreign policy in the Middle East,” Lasn claimed. But, of course, that’s not the only point—the only reason to list the powerful neocons and point out which are Jewish is to suggest that the “special affinity” arises out of a dual loyalty. (The “carefully researched” list is also inaccurate: Robert Zoellick is not Jewish and is arguably not a neocon; I imagine the late Richard John Neuhaus cringed at being called neoconservative; etc.) But I’ll let the readers judge.
Meanwhile, Lasn also gave an interview to Mondoweiss, which won’t win him fans among those inclined to cast his view of the Middle East in doubt. “I think another one of the bubbles is a media bubble, because there’s a special sensitivity to this issue, and the Holocaust, and it’s such an emotionally charged thing, and I think the media is quite often pro-Israeli in a knee-jerk way.” Later, he opines:
When I see Israel acting so arrogant and so tough—here’s one of the most powerful military forces in the world, they have nukes—and when I see them cordoning off Gaza the way they do and when they attack Gaza the way they did, it just fills me with rage because this is a powerful bully that is basically turning Gaza into kind of a turkey shoot. I really see it in this kind of very visceral way, like how could they possibly get away with doing this? For me, it’s almost a very black and white battle where, let’s stop arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, let’s just take sides and start fighting for the human rights and the other rights that the Palestinians should have, and let’s not allow the bully to always win. I mean, it’s time to stop the bully.
To which, among many others, the response would be: why pick on this bully? But I digress, and I mean that, because a New York cover story makes clear that Adbusters has about as much to do with Occupy Wall Street as it does the Tea Party at this point. The leaders of the movement do not include Kalle Lasn. They do, however, include a Palestinian-American named Amin Husain and an Israeli-American named Yotam Maron. They also include dozens of others, thousands of activists, and millions of sympathizers around the world. To reduce it to one article by one extremely marginal figure seems disingenuous. But given that that is what is, inevitably, already happening, there you have it.
The Branding of the Occupy Movement [NYT]
‘It’s Time to Stop the Bully’ [Mondoweiss]
2012=1968? [NY Mag]
Related: Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish? [Adbusters]
Earlier: Busting the ‘Adbusters’ OWS Story