From Occupy Judaism:
The following statement was approved by the NYC General Assembly November 12, 2011.
Friday’s anti-Semitic, racist acts that occurred on Ocean Parkway in the Midwood Section of Brooklyn and the attempt by the Daily News to link Occupy Wall Street (OWS) to these heinous acts have compelled us to release this statement. When an act of violence and bigotry occurs in our community, we, as a group, need to take a leadership role and stand with other community leaders and fellow New Yorkers to speak out in opposition to these acts. History teaches us that silence can be interpreted as approving or condoning the bigotry.
Continue Reading »
On this day in 1938 was the so-called “Kristallnacht,” the mass pogroms in Germany and German occupied Austria.
“Across the land: The map shows places in the Greater German Reich and in the Free State of Danzig, where in November 1938 Synagogues and Jewish shops were destroyed. It includes 1,283 entries; because of the still unfinished research the full amount of the destruction is still not completely known today. Names of places appear according to their current names.”
This map was published by the newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany in 2008.
*The term “Kristallnacht” was coined by the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebels. It dresses up the systematic attacks against the Jews as mere broken windows. The map shows how widespread the attacks were, which were organized by the state, and involved the murder of hundreds of Jews throughout the week, tens of thousands who were deported to concentration camps, plus the irretrievable damage done to Synagogues, businesses, and other property. The appropriate term for the events is “Reichspogromnacht”, which roughly translates into “state organized night of pogroms.” The events mark the switch from discrimination to systematic persecution and eventually extermination of the Jewish population.
by Spencer Sunshine, published online November 2011 in Shift
All progressive social movements have dark sides, but some are more prone to them than others. Occupy Wall Street and its spin-offs, with their populist, anti-elitist discourse (“We Are the 99%”) and focus on finance capital, have already attracted all kinds of unsavory friends: antisemites, David Duke and White Nationalists, Oath Keepers, Tea Partiers, and followers of David Icke, Lyndon Larouche, and the Zeitgeist movement (see glossary below).
On one hand, there is nothing particularly new about this. The anti-globalization movement was plagued with these problems as well.(1) This was sometimes confusing to radicals who saw that movement as essentially Left-wing and anti-capitalist; when the radicals said “globalization,” they really meant something like the “highest stage of capitalism,” and so from their perspective, by opposing one they were opposing the other. The radicals often saw the progressives in the movement as sharing this same vision, only in an “incomplete way”—and that they only needed a little push (usually by a cop’s baton) to see that capitalism could not be reformed, and instead had to be abolished.
But for numerous others, “globalization” did not mean capitalism. Just as for the radicals, it functioned as a codeword: for some it meant finance capital (as opposed to industrial capital), while for others it meant the regime of a global elite constructing their “New World Order.” And either or both might also have meant the traditional Jewish conspiracy’s supposed global domination and control of the banking system. Whether they realized it or not, the many anti-authoritarians who praised this “movement of movements” as being based solely on organizational structure, with no litmus test for political inclusion, put out a big welcome sign for these dodgy folks. And in that door came all kinds of things, from Pat Buchanan to Troy Southgate. [READ THE REST]
I also recommend Occupy Wall Street and the perils of the big tent by Adam Holland.
From Radical Archives:
Kalle Lasn (Adbusters): “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” (full image)
“Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?”, Kalle Lasn’s infamous Adbusters article (March/April 2004), is often talked about. But it is curiously hard to find a copy of the actual image—especially since much of its notoriety derives from it being a list political figures in which the Jewish ones are marked with symbols next to their names! So, with all the brew-ha-ha lately about antisemitism at Occupy Wall Street, we thought we’d pull this one out of the archives.
We have a lot to say about antisemitism and the critique of finance capital; the failure of the left to oppose antisemitism at OWS and how this has handed openings to the right; the left’s pathetic failure in the response to these accusations, which have some validity; and the comparison between the anti-globalization and “Occupy” movements in terms of antisemitism, the critique of finance capital, and Left/Right crossover. But it will all have to wait.
Here is the document.
Some of these links have already been in comment threads in previous posts on this topic, but here are extracts from some reports and comments on the Occupy movement. Continue Reading »
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) held a workshop at Occupy Wall Street on anti-Jewish oppression, responding to some of the talk about antisemitism at the occupation. Here are some observations from P. Naberrie:
The workshop was very much coming from a social justice perspective, where the term “anti-semitism” also includes “racism towards other ‘semitic peoples’”, i.e. “islamophobia” – hence in this workshop the use of the expression “anti-jewish oppression”. Apart from a little introduction to “anti-Jewish oppression” it was focused on an exchange of experiences of oppression on the intra-, inter-personal or institutional levels, in pairs. These were brought together and shared, followed by some talking. It had about 9 participants that stayed til the end, most of them Jewish.
It was acknowledged that antisemitism had been an issue here and there at OWS, but people had the perception that it was mostly a fringe phenomenon that gets criticisized when it pops up. Also, there was overall excitement about various Yom Kippur activities and JFREJ workshops that happened all over the week without any disturbances.
Meanwhile, a guy with a “Why do the Arabs hate the US?” sign was passing out leaflets on the Broadway side of Liberty Plaza with following passage:
“As long as the great majority of Americans remain totally ignorant and uninvolved in our Israeli policy, the US government will continue to be hostage to Israel, Zionist Christians and American Jews. I am not a Jew hater. In fact, I consider them the smartest people in the world. This small minority of Americans, less than 3% of our population, have enormous power in all segments of American economy and government. Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel, these gifted people turn off their brains and think only with their hearts.”
Argued with him for a while, seemed to be some US nationalist (“Pro-Palestinian? I am not an Arab lover!”) who said he wasn’t affiliated with any group. No other people seemed to take offense…Had another argument with a US-flag carrying whacko with no coherent political idea that sooner or later was talking about the 1% being the “rich Rothschilds and other such families” while he had no problem with capitalism or imperialism as such: “If you only work hard enough, you can be whatever you wanna be”.
Best sign of the day: “Shit is fucked up and bullshit”. Not antisemitic, and to the point
I just posted a piece on Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London at my blog. Here is a brief extract, looking at antisemitism in the American movement. Below is an extract from History is Made at Night, which mentions some manifestations in the UK.
I hadn’t realised there is a whole #OccupyJudaism thing going on at the margins of #OWS and other US occupations (here’s Occupy Judaism’s official blog, Facebook page and Twitter account). See, e.g. this broadcast on the very interesting radio613 of from the Yom Kippur Services that took place at #OccupyWallStreet and #OccupyPhilly, or this useful article in The Forward, or this round-up of items from Kung Fu Jew at Jewschool. (Comical tangent: Jewish occupiers put up a “Sukkah”; the NYPD appeared to have better halachic knowledge, noting that you couldn’t see the stars through it therefore not a proper Sukkah – although more halachically trained folks say the NYDPD got it wrong.)
In contrast, the right (at times hysterically) has put a lot of attention into hunting down examples (or at least “hints”) of antisemitism in the Occupy movement. (For one of the more articulate litanies against the antisemitism, read David Brooks on milquetoast radicals; for a good round-up of the evidence see PJ Tatler; for another video see BreitbartTV.) It is undeniable that there is antisemitism in the movement, and it has manifested itself in several of the events. (I haven’t seen examples from the UK yet, but won’t be surprised when I do.) It is incumbent on the movement, and on anti-capitalists in general, not to ritually denounce it, but to be honest and aware about it, and to understand where it comes from. Where it comes from, in my view, is: a limited anti-capitalism that focuses on finance capital rather than on capital in general which segues easily into a “socialism of the fools” antisemitism. This, I think, is not an indictment of some inherent antisemitism in the left, but rather a consequence of the failure of the left, a failure to coherently argue for, and win people over to, a thorough anti-capitalist politics. This failure has left a vacuum, which is filled with conspiracy theory, vulgar materialism of the blood-for-oil/blame-the-Fed variety, a populist discourse of patriotic defence of the national economy being looted by the banks, and other extra-left forms of politics.
It is also the case that the scattered instances of antisemitism in the protest are no more prevalent than the scattered instances of racism and antisemitism in the tea party movement, which the right (correctly) argued were epiphenomenal and not central to tea partyism. And these scattered instances, involving handfuls of oddballs at the margins of the occupations, must be balanced against the thousands of people in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC and elsewhere turning up to Kol Nidre prayers and sukkot. Highlighting a few incidents of antisemitism in a large, disparate, weeks-long movement and claiming that renders the whole thing is to play the antisemitism card. I particularly recommend A Jay Adler on The Putrid Cynicism of the Emergency Committee for Israel for a good rebuttal of one example of this, promoted at CIFWatch.
Matt at Ignoblus has a nice, short post written after his attendance at a Kol Nidre service at Occupy Wall Street. His concern is not with the antisemitism as such, but the way the lens of Zionism/anti-Zionism distorts the movement’s understanding of the world. The Tent City protests in Israel were a major episode in the so-called “movement of the squares”, the wave emanating out of the Jasmine Revolution via Tahrir Square which the Occupy protests want to surf. But they air-brush it out of the account because it was not against the other occupation, the Israeli one of Palestine. Ignore the fact that pro-Hamas Islamists and pro-Israeli Coptic Christians, for example, were part of the Tahrir moment: Arabs can be as politically correct as they like but Israelis had better denounce their state if they want to enter our big tent.
From History is Made At Night:
There are some odd alternative economy models around in the occupations, notions of capitalism without finance capital (the ‘real economy’), of monetary reform, of a resource-based economy that is beyond capitalism and communism (this is the line of the new-agey Zeitgeist Movement who had a banner on steps of St Pauls). It is not just that some of these ideas seem to have very little understanding of what capitalism actually is and misrepresent it as a conspiracy by a few rich bankers rather than a global mode of production and exchange. It’s far worse than that, because some of these ideas have very murky antecedents and indeed dubious present-day associations.
A lot of ‘monetary reform’ notions just read like recycled ‘Social Credit’ ideas, as developed before the Second World War by CH Douglas. As Derek Wall pointed out in his article Social Credit: The Ecosocialism of Fools (Capitalism Nature Socialism, September 2003), Douglas was not only an extreme right wing racist, but his monetery ideas are saturated with an anti-semitic world view. Likewise, the Zeitgeist Movement basically rehash the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, simply subsituting the word ‘bankers’ for ‘jews’ (see Zeitgeist Exposed at the Third Estate).
At the Bristol occupation at the weekend this racist conspiracy theory view of capitalism was openly articulated by someobody telling the occupation that ‘Zionists want a new world order’. What was disgraceful about this episode was that people dutifully repeated this poison and cheered him rather than kicking the guy out. And that whoever was responsible for ‘Occupy Bristol update’ on youtube thought this was uncontroversial enough to give the guy a platform.
The ‘human microphone’ thing in the occupations is in danger of becoming an absurd fetish. In Wall Street people repeated the phrases of speakers to make sure that people further back could hear speeches when a microphone was banned. In most cases where there is no ban it would be surely be better – and very simple – just to set up a PA or use a megaphone, like people have been for years. By the looks of the Bristol occupation, there was no need for anything as the crowd seemed small enough for everybody to hear. It did look like a religious ‘call and response’ exercise, and involved people in the bad faith exericse of speaking nonsense which on reflection I would hope many would prefer not to utter.
I know that there are plenty of good sound people camping out at St Pauls now, and I think it is very important to get involved and challenge reactionary ideas. To just walk away holding our noses could allow some of these dangerous ideas to get a foothold in the very high profile occupation movement.
A disagreement with Bob, who writes in a post in which I otherwise agree with a great deal
finally anti-Zionism which sees Zionism as a form of imperialism and takes a consistent opposition to all imperialisms without singling out Zionism as unique is wrong-headed, but not in itself antisemitic.
Bob may (or may not) be right that such anti-Zionisms are not (or not necessarily) antisemitic, but they’re certainly not merely wrong-headed, in the same way that branding Zionism (and no other nationalism) as racism or equating Zionism with apartheid is not merely wrong-headed. For it involves misrepresenting the views of (i.e. libelling) the huge proportion of Zionists who are not imperialists. It’s thus problematic in the same way that it’s problematic when Zionism is presented as uniquely evil (more so than other nationalisms), necessarily expansionist, etc.
One can disagree as to whether or not this libel is antisemitic. I tend toward the view that it probably is, insofar as it misrepresents the views of a large number of Jews (although not only of Jews), but seem to be moving toward a position according to which whether or not it’s antisemitic isn’t hugely importance, since I see anti-Israel sentiment and prejudice as worthy of opposition in themselves.
My tentative and provisional attempt to reformulate of Bob’s sentence thus looks something like this:
finally anti-Zionism which sees Zionism and all other nationalisms as
a forms of imperialism and takes a consistent opposition to all imperialisms without singling out Zionism as unique is wrong-headed, but not in itself antisemitic.
On the Federal Reserve
I have noticed some strange, Ron Paul-ish stuff about the Federal Reserve around Occupy Wall Street. I do want to file a complaint about that.
The Federal Reserve is admittedly manna for conspiracists. It’s a fairly opaque institution that does work for the big guys. But it’s not their puppet exactly. A friend who spent many years at the New York branch of the Fed once told me that within the institution, the thinking is that bankers are short-sighted critters who come and go but the Fed has to do the long-term thinking for the ruling class. So it has more autonomy than the popular tales allow.
The founding of the Fed is also a great subject of mythmaking—like secret meetings involving more than a few Jews. (The conspiratorial mindset often overlaps with anti-Semitic stories about rootless cosmopolitans, their greed and scheming.) There were some secret meetings, but the creation of a central bank was a major project of the U.S. elite for decades around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th. There’s a great book on that topic by James Livingston that I urge anyone interested in the topic to read. It was a long, complex campaign, and not the task of a secret train ride to a remote island. Continue Reading »
Wall Street protests marred by anti-Semitism
New Jewish Resistance | October 6, 2011 | By Seth Weiss
While the Left celebrates the Wall Street occupation with much fanfare — including endorsements from Michael Moore, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, and Susan Sarandon — an anti-Semitic undercurrent in the protests goes largely unchallenged. Continue Reading »