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Yet Rosenthal omits some inconvenient truths. Anti-Semitic displays have not been limited to New York, like those seen here, where demonstrators have spewed invective at Jews and offered up stereotypical theories regarding Jewish control of mass media, money, and “other areas of production.” Anti-Semitic protesters can be seen here in Los Angeles as well. In LA, signs and speeches reference the narrative shaped by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and its Jewish banker conspiracy theories. And here’s a video of LA Occupy protester Patricia McAllister, who claims to be employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Ms. McAllister’s take on the movement? “I think 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.”
Moreover, Rosenthal cannot possibly sustain his argument that anti-Semitism is an anecdotal part of the Occupy movement now that the demonstrations have been endorsed, not only by the Nazi party as mentioned above, but by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. They have a long and documented history of anti-Semitism impossible to ignore, which ties into the last inconvenient truth of OWS: despite condemnations by both the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Anti-Defamation League, no one as of yet has condemned the anti-Semitic protesters from within the movement.
Tablet columnist Michelle Goldberg attributes this to “the limitations of a leaderless movement.” Yet it is precisely that lack of leadership which makes this movement, not merely limited, but highly exploitable by darker and better organized elements. Tellingly, Sieradski characterizes this flaw as a positive attribute of OWS. “The whole thing is an anarchistic affair, so any affinity group that has an action is welcome to come and do their action,” he says.
Unfortunately, Sieradski and others like him are naive. As New York Times columnist David Brooks writes, the Occupy movement was sparked by Adbusters magazine, whose previous claim to fame was a 2004 essay, “Why Won’t Anyone Say They’re Jewish?” which contended that the “[Jewish] neocons are…the most influencial (sic) political/intellectual force in the world right now,” and that it is “necessary to put them under a microscope. And if we see maleness, whiteness, Jewishness, Zionism or intellectual thuggery there, then let us not look the other way.”
The article further questions the motivation of neo-cons’ support for the Iraq war and what came to loosely be known as the Bush Doctrine, which the article not-so-subtly implied was ginned up by Jewish neo-cons to serve Israel. Oddly enough, the same article notes that “Jews make up less than 2 percent of the American population.” This bears a remarkable similarity to the protesters’ insistence that they represent 99 percent of the country protesting the actions of the other 1 percent. Or as Brooks puts it, “the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent” (italic mine).
Harvard political scientist (and Jewish American) Robert Putnam also dismisses the notion that expressions of anti-Semitism at these demonstrations amount to anything more than anecdotal incidents. “The only people in America worried about that are the Jews,” he contends. That would be some Jews. At this moment, the proponents of Occupy Judaism don’t appear to be worried at all.
It remains to be seen whether or not their lack of concern is warranted, and what they will do if the “anecdotal” anti-Semitic undertones manifesting themselves in two of America’s largest cities grow louder, and/or spread to other Occupy movements around the nation and the world. If they do, the Occupy Judaism proponents may learn a brutally painful lesson: every populist political movement needs useful idiots.
How useful? No matter how progressive and or/anarchistic Occupy Judaism’s members are, one can only wonder if their myopia extends as far as standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Nazis and Communists in order to achieve the “greater good.” OJ adherents might want to peruse a history book or two to see what has happened to Jews when those two groups have assumed the reins of power. No doubt many of the true believers in the Occupy Judaism movement console themselves with the bromide that any similarly cataclysmic chain of events “could never happen here.”
A five minute stroll might be more than illuminating. That’s the time it takes to walk from Zuccotti Park — to the September 11th Memorial.
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