Alongside Anti-Semitism, ‘Occupy Judaism’

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In a testament to the myopic quality of Jewish liberalism, a parallel movement known as Occupy Judaism (OJ) has sprung up amidst the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests in New York City and around the country. “We’re going global with this,” said Daniel Sieradski, a New York Jewish activist who took a lead role in organizing a Yom Kippur service close to the Occupy Wall Street protests. The myopia? Sieradski, along with his followers, is apparently oblivious to the historic reality that anti-capitalist movements have always had an element of anti-Semitism attached to them.

It’s a long history. As New American columnist Daniel Sayani points out, the OWS, despite self-professed notions that they are leading a new movement “are merely perpetuating the socialist belief that Jews are to blame for ‘social injustice,’ an idea that began with Proudhon.” Proudhon was a self-professed anarchist who published What is Property? Or, An Inquiry Into the Principle of Right and Government in 1840. He inspired Karl Marx, who maintained a years-long correspondence with the author. In 1844, Marx himself wrote “On the Jewish Question,” (alternatively entitled “A World Without Jews”) in which he blames the Jews for the same “income inequality” and “dollar worship” that irks many of today’s protesters.

Furthermore, Sayani points out, the American Left’s favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, whose economic policies “of bailouts, central banking, and massive governmental intervention to ‘stabilize’ output over the business cycle” was himself an anti-Semite who once stated, “It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains.”

Sieradski acknowledges that there are elements of anti-Semitism among the demonstrators, but he considers them a small fringe element that has “chosen to co-opt the protests as an opportunity” to spread such prejudice. But he expressed the hope that he could dispel Jewish stereotypes and “fight those using Jew-hatred,” by his presence at the demonstrations.

Yet he and his followers seemingly undermine that cause. At a Kol Nidre service, the evening service of the Yom Kippur holiday October 7th, Sieradski read a text composed by Zach Teutsch, a DC labor organizer. Part of the message was a relinquishment of personal responsibility, coupled with socialist/Marxist, “evil banker” undertones:

Today, we are thinking about a different kind of commitment made under duress. A big part of our financial crisis was caused by a banking system which misled and pressured, which up-sold and implored us to sign without reading, where fraud was rampant, and where caution was absent. Because of those external problems, many good hardworking people were steered, under a sort of duress, into financial doom while their futures were sold from the rich to the richer.

And undertones of economic enslavement:

Today, as we think about how commitments must be contemplated in the context of right and wrong, of earth and heaven, we know that those notes have no moral weight, that banks can’t and shouldn’t own the futures of people who work, and that it’s time for the bankers to abandon their claims on everyday people’s futures. I will leave it to another [on this day] to think about what this means practically or what policies we should adopt as a country. For today, we should think about the moral content of promises, oaths, commitments, and pledges. Is it right to follow through on these? Is it right to own another’s future?

Here’s another group of folks who concur with Sieradski’s message: “Seriously people, just WHO is our enemy?  The unemployed left-wing 25-year-old holding up a sign, OR the (blank) banksters who swindled the American taxpayers out of A TRILLION dollars in the “bailout” scam AND continue to oppress the (blank) Working Class?!?”

Unfortunately for Sieradski and other like-minded followers of Occupy Judaism, the blanks in the above statement are crucial. The term that fills in the blank before “banksters” is “judeo-capitalist.” The word that fills in the blank before “Working Class” is “White.” The group that shares the same philosophical outlook that animates Occupy Judaism? The American Nazi Party.

This classic rant about Jews enslaving the public through the financial system is textbook anti-Semitism, and it fits much of the “Occupy” message almost perfectly. The problem with applying the “Occupy” concept to Judaism, which is lost on Sieradski and co., is that it creates a moral equivalency between what they see as deficits in Judaism and the problems they have with the financial system — which is exactly what the Nazi Jew-haters do.

“Far too many Jewish institutions have solicited money from the very same people who’ve gotten us in this economic mess,” Sieradski said, pointing out that many of those institutions were associated with mega-swindler Bernard Madoff. Yet he noted that those views were his own and not those of the Occupy Judaism movement. He was also quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying, “Most Jewish institutions are dominated by their wealthiest donors, whose views might not be in line with that of the wider Jewish community.” The Jewish Week reported that Sieradski allowed for “the possibility of sit-ins and demonstrations in front of synagogues and Jewish organizations.”

It is also lost on columnist MJ Rosenthal, who contends that charges of anti-Semitism with respect to the OWS movement are nothing more than “an ugly old tradition” being exploited by “conservatives in a state of near panic.” The purpose of such charges is “to break the backs of popular movements that threaten the power of the wealthiest 1 percent of our population.” Rosenthal concedes that there have been instances of anti-Semitism on display at Wall Street, but he attributes them to the idea that “mass movements attract all kinds of people, some invariably unsavory.”

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  • mrbean

    Remember, the clandestine Muslim Marxist Obama supports these Occupy anti semites having been mentored by the anti semite black liberation theology crackpot Reverend Jeremiah Wright for 20 years,

    • gtoop

      America is controlled by Zionists.
      That's why America supports Israeli aggression on Palestinians.

  • Flipside

    1) You shouldn't censor your blogs.
    2) You cannot erase the neocons from history. They did what they did.
    3) You should not accuse people you disagree with of having no knowledge of history.
    4) Far too many Jewish institutions HAVE solicited money from the very same people who’ve gotten us in this economic mess, including Yeshiva University.
    5) A fair minded person would have to consider that some Anti-semitism is caused by Jews.
    6) Attributing the recent populist attempts to reform the economy as "anti-semitic" will simply place Jews on the wrong side when we get our reform. Look how Israel reeled after its embassy was removed from Egypt, after they tried to prop up Mubarak.
    7) Georg Simmel knew that there is no freedom without money. So how do you not know that people are trying to get their freedom back from this engineered recession?

    • stern

      neocons – code for "Jews"
      Flopside – code for Jew=hater

      • Flipside

        It’s not code at all. They are who they are and they did what they did.

    • Eric

      "A fair minded person would have to consider that some Anti-semitism is caused by Jews."

      Seriously? This ignorance implies some racism in the US is caused by African Americans, some sexism is caused by women, some homophobia is caused by gays. The actions of some Jews, African Americans, women, gays, never justify hatred of the class to which they belong.

      • Flipside

        I agree with everything you said.

    • UCSPanther

      Well, well, well.

      It appears your attempt to hide your antisemitism has finally failed. We can finally see your true colors for what they are.

      You should've quit while you were ahead in the game, but now, it is too late.

      • Flipside

        Damn. If I had hidden it in some honest, hard work, no one would have found it.

        • UCSPanther

          Damn rights.

          You know bloody well Ron Paul, anti-Israelism, George Soros and Jew hatred are not well liked in these parts.

          • Flipside

            Actually, they are.

    • Ronald W. Carnine

      Flipside, the truth is against you. You don't know your history. If the Jews were really controlling Wall Street it would run like a well oiled machine. The Jews have been killed by the millions, thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel yet she continues to thrive. The truth is, the Palestinians are jealous of her prosperity. Look at the billions of dollars the Palestinians have wasted w/o helping their people. Arabs that are citizens of Israel live in much better conditions than the Palestinians. Anti-semitism is not caused by Israel, but rather in the depravity of the human heart. The Palestinians have been offered a state but continue to reject every offer from Israel even though they were given over 95% of what they demanded. Now are they being fair and realistic? Not at all. There is a good reason Israel supported Mubarak even though his gov't was far from perfect. He agreed not to kill every Jewish person in Israel. As soon as Egypt came under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the sword rattling began again. Your reasoning is flawed because you don't know your history (or refuse to acknowledge it) and your prejudice is overwhelming and blinds you from the truth. I feel sorry for you.

      • Flipside

        I know my history just fine. You in the other hand should be Israel’s national poet with that bathetic prose of yours.

  • Tamir Druz, Israel

    I think the organizers of Occupy Wall Street intended it to have anti-Semitic and anti-Israel undertones from the very beginning. Starting with the name of the movement itseslf, I find it curious that they would use the term "occupy," since what the Left views as the "occupation" of Judea and Samaria is the main preoccupation of many of those involved. For example, Kalle Lasn, one of the main organizers, has a history of anti-Jewish writings and recently equated Gaza to the ghettos of Nazi Germany. Also, the organizers have repeatedly claimed inspiration from the "Arab Spring," which many Leftists believe is a precursor to the end of Israel. And then there is the term "Wall Street," which is a thinly disguised allusion to Jewish bankers for many on the Left.

    • JEM

      Well said. One point, If Kalle Lasn equated Gaza to the ghettos of Nazi Germany, how is it that the Hamas charter is one of the finest examples of anti-Semitic writing to come along since the height of Nazi propaganda?

  • Findalis

    There were names for these Jews in the Death Camps: Kapos. True in the 40s and true with this group.

    • friedmanj

      you just called my son, the grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, a kapo. Look it up. My son never murdered a fellow Jew, was never in a concentration camp and is using his first amendment rights to fight against the anti-zionists and nazis who show up once in a while. In fact the only people who attacked the Sukkah and attacked my daughter in law are people like you, neo-con, intolerant Jews who hate other Jews who don't agree with their views. Hiding behind a phoney screen name so that you don't have to be accountable makes you very lucky, because if I knew who you were I would make sure you got dragged to court for slandering my son. Jeanette Friedman Sieradski, proud of my son, proud of my daughter in law, proud Jew who stands up to haters, Jewish ones and other ones.

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    How many Jew haters are there ?? the answer!! uncountable many.
    So what does it mather if there are now 1027 more anti-semites running
    around in search for virgins.,by killing innocent Jewish life.
    It 's good to know from wich waste-filled holes they crawl, the easier you
    can destroy them.

  • visitor

    Antisemites are found both on the right and left; nothing new there. Wackjobs and haters try to latch on to any movement they can exploit, as the LaRouchies did with the Tea Party. Just as a handful of racist signs at TP rallies did not justify charges that all TP supporters were racists, witnes TP support for Cain, the pathetic attempts by a handful of antisemites to exploit OWS for their own ends do not prove that OWS is an antisemitic movement. The fact that so many OWS supporters welcomed Kol Nidrei on Wall Street and the errection of sukkahs at a dozen Occupy events should tell you more about the true character of this movement than a handful of haters. You have every right to decry the politics of OWS but not to misrepresent the broad movement on the basis of a tiny bunch of misfits.

    • alan g

      One main difference between the tea party and ows is when the larouches and racists were identified by tea partiers, they were condemned. And I mean immediately. Where as at the ows is concerned, they did not condemn, but accepted them as part of the group. It’s a pretty clear distinction. Undeniable to me.

    • ziontruth

      "Antisemites are found both on the right and left;"

      On the Right they're marginalized; on the Left, either mainstream or fast becoming so.

  • NotaBene

    And anti-Communist movements have an even stronger history of Anti-semitism, so what is your point?

  • Truth Be Told

    The writer of this article is using a biased media slant to paint a picture of Occupy Judaism as a cohort of the Nazi party, which, comes off to me as far-reaching, completely missing the point and engaging in defensive, self-righteous finger pointing rather than seeing more deeply into the heart of this movement. In order to set the record straight, I'd like to address and clarify the statements the author has made about one of Oj's leaders, Dan Sieradski.

    The author states that Sieradski is naive, but If the author himself had a clue, he would know that Sieradski is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, that his grandfather helped thousands of Jews escape from concentration camps and Europe during the war, that his great-uncle was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and his immediate family and Sieradski himself have been involved in holocaust education, survivor relations and social activism for the past 30+ years.

    For the author to make public statements and assertions such as those in this article is nothing more than engaging in the irresponsible and ignorant behavior he accuses Sieradski of.

    In a broad global movement such as Occupy that has no firm leadership, it's tempting to single one individual out and blame him or her for the maladies of the movement. Overall, it would be more wise to take a look at the systemic inefficiencies which created the cause for the movement, which includes corruption at every level. This would be a better usage of attention to the printed word, rather than wasting time and energy crying "Anti-Semitism," which haters will continue to do in any given situation because the paradigm allows people to blame others rather than taking responsibility for and tending to their own inner mess.

    • Raymond in DC

      That Sieradski is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors is irrelevant, though some will use it to establish credentials or credibility. Norman Finkelstein is the son of survivors while Hedi Epstein escaped to the UK just ahead of the holocaust. So what? It hasn't stopped them from defaming Jews and Israel or standing with her enemies. This is little different from the "As-a-Jew" trope wherein those who have divorced themselves from the Jewish community, its traditions and its values, nonetheless attempt to validate their nonsense by insisting, "As a Jew …".

    • Herman Caintonette

      Democracy is messy; Judaism, it is said, is messier. Ask three rabbis their views, and you are likely to get seven opinions.

      It is important to remember that Jews are not monolithic in their views; Noam Chomsky is no less Jewish than David Horowitz. Sieradsky has a right to his views.

  • UCSPanther

    If there's a good reason to be armed, this is it, especially if you have Jewish background. These idiots don't want to just stop with the elite, they'll go for you if they so much as suspect you have Jewish background.

    Remember: Antisemitism is a dangerous chimera consisting of racial hatred, religious hatred and conspiracy theories.

  • George Jochnowitz

    Way back in 1969, when I considered myself a leftist, I wrote an essay entitled "The Left Is Soft on Anti-Semitism." It appeared in the Village Voice. Here is a link:
    The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  • AaronLeavy

    I'm confused by the author's argument. From what I can gather the fact that others have used attacks or critiques of capitalism as an excuse to air their pre-existing hatred for Jews (and others) seems to mean that Jews themselves are not allowed to publicly critique capitalism for fear of giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites. Does this mean that the author believes that Jews' first priority in forming and expressing political opinions is to check those opinions against arguments made by anti-Semites, so as to hopefully avoid giving fuel to those hateful fires?

    • DBM

      YES! And not only does this line of reasoning lead to this odd "Jews can't criticize American capitalism or they're supporting anti-Semitism" conclusion; it also reinforces the "Jews = parasitic, money-hungry capitalists" image that's at the root of much anti-Semitism. Essentially, at the root of every argument I've seen that OWS is anti-Semitic is the belief that somehow Jews and bankers are one and the same — a deeply problematic assumption!

  • Jim

    Forget getting the Jews. Get the Scottish . Remember it was Cargill that pushed for NAFTA which impoverished the Mexicans with our subsidized corn flooding their markets.

  • Ben

    the idea of the persecuted Jews to save themselves in international left movement at the price of sacrificing their riches was modernized : let them take all-sacrifice Judaism!
    The theatre of absurd.