Both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ADL recently released statements on anti-Semitism in the Occupy movement. Mathew Knee at Legal Insurrection comments:
There are two major organizations in the Jewish community tasked with certifying people, things, and movements as anti-Semitic or not: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum(s) of Tolerance. Sometimes, they differ, owing largely to the fact that the ADL’s leaders vote Democrat while the Wiesenthal Center’s leaders, primarily being Orthodox Rabbis, are generally thought to lean Republican.
Now that the Democratic leadership is embracing OWS, and it does look like ADL Director Abraham Foxman dares not to challenge Occupiers:
We are seeing some individuals holding anti-Semitic signs at the “Occupy Wall Street” rallies, and some videos posted on YouTube from the rallies have shown individuals expressing classic anti-Semitic beliefs such as “Jews control the banks” and “Jews control Wall Street.” While we believe that these expressions are not representative of the larger views of the OWS movement, it is still critical for organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.
There is no evidence that these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants. However, history demonstrates time and again how economic downturns can embolden anti-Semites to spread malicious conspiracy theories and promote stereotypes about Jews and money. As a consequence, these statements must not be left unchallenged.
Simon Wiesenthal’s statement has a bit more teeth:
…Unfortunately, the hateful fringe of the Occupy Wall Street Movement is now also coast-to-coast, though you might not know it from the mainstream media. Today’s hate propaganda from the New York protests has gone viral. This includes placards identifying “Wall Street Jews” as “Hitler’s Bankers,” and angry shouts of “Kill/Screw Google Jews.” According to anecdotal evidence, the conspiracy banter that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. government and/or Israeli plot is also popular among some protestors.
From Wall Street to LA’s City Hall now comes a copycat wave of street posters including one with the headline “End the Fed Spigot” under which are pictures of missiles and Stars of David bombarding innocent victims. Another pseudo-learned poster tells us: “Humanity has been colonized by a Satanic cult called the ILLUMINATI . . . Masonic and Jewish bankers who . . . control the purse strings [and] are conspiring against us. They have orchestrated TWO WORLD WARS and are planning a THIRD.” We are told that it’s “Humanity VS. The Rothschilds”. Protester Patricia McAllister, who says she works for LA Unified Schools exercised her First Amendment Right thus: “I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, . . . need to be run out of this country.”
For almost 200 years, blaming the world’s economic woes on the Rothschilds or Wall Street or Jewish bankers has been “the socialism of fools”—and mother’s milk of every demagogue from Hitler to Henry Ford to the Internet bloggers who still insist that Goldman Sachs’s secret Zionist high-command cunningly engineered the 2008 global financial collapse. Of course, toxic hate is not the motivator of most protestors, many of whom are suffering from or sincerely concerned about real economic hardship. Yet history shows the danger of lunatic fringe ideas spreading from the periphery to the center of a tumultuous movement…
Rabbi Cooper who issued this statement goes on to allege racism among the Tea Party, as they saw in birthers, which they felt was disavowed by political leaders that came out of the movement. Cooper called on OWS to similarly reject the anti-Semitic fringe.
I take an issue with characterization of Occupy anti-Semitism as a fringe phenomena. First, the Occupy movement is so small and incoherent it’s fringe only. To be sure the guy with bad teeth and “Hitler’s Bankers” banner is no commie. But there are plenty more examples, and the far left parents who bring their kids to Zuccotti Park don’t mind them photographed in front of that sign, and friendly photographers go out of the way to snap that shot, and Huffington Post approvingly features the picture on its pages. I wrote about that one before.
The Occupy movement is not so much a political force as counterculture ritual. People join this movement to express themselves: take off their bras, beat on drums or forgo washing for weeks. Evidently they are accepting of wackier forms of self-expression, including anti-Semitsm and racism.
Both Cooper and Foxman need to pick up the phone and call the Canadian Jewish Congress because that organization can explain that anti-Semites are at the root of the Occupy movement. Occupy is the brainchild of a Canadian publication called Adbusters that apparently thinks that anti-Semitism is hip and fresh and all.
Adbusters recently ran a picture of Israeli Prime Minister meant to look subtly evil (pallid skin, eyelids same color as lips, too much flash on his forehead) with the words “Can you trust this man with nuclear weapons?”
In 2004 the publication ran a story “Why Won’t Anybody Say They Are Jewish?” They printed a list of prominent “neocons” with asterisks next to Jewish names. Some commentators noted that at least they didn’t use yellow stars. But it’s the 2010 comparison of Gaza Strip to Warsaw Ghetto that earned them the condemnation of the Canadian Jewish Congress and got them banned in some bookstores.
The ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Center need to do better research.
UPDATE: Occupy LA organizers refuse to denounce rabid anti-Semitism, via Legal Insurrection: