Wall Street Protests Marred by Anti-Semitism
Wall Street Protests Marred by Anti-Semitism
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. Consider Nathalie Rothschild’s account in the Huffington Post of the noxious response elicited by her unflattering portrait of protesters in the online journal Spiked. According to Rothschild:
I received a string of indignant emails and tweets about my Jewish, kleptocrat banking connections; demands that I reveal the details of my pay checks and that I come clean about my not-so-hidden agenda. I was told that my family name disqualifies me from having any opinion about the protest and that I have ‘the karma of a demon’. One reader posted my article online, headlining the post ‘Journalist & Jew – Nathalie ROTHSCHILD’. 
There have also been reports of protestors at Wall Street holding signs with clearly anti-Semitic statements; one such sign instructs passersby to search on Google for “Wall St. Jews,” “Jewish Billionaires,” and the like.  A recent post on the online Public Forum of the NYC General Assembly, the decentralized grouping that has emerged as the leadership of the movement, notes that “It is common for statements to be made, placing overwhelming blame and responsibility on Jews for the economic crisis” and asks “what can be done about the existence of anti-Semitic statements made by so-called supporters of the protest?” The post has received responses accusing the author of pursuing a “witch hunt” and others suggesting that readers “Look into who was involved in setting up the Federal Reserve in 1913.” 
The initial call for the September 17th Wall Street demonstration came from the Canadian-based AdBusters, an activist publication focused on “culture jamming” and anti-consumerism, which once published a list of prominent neo-conservatives with black dots placed adjacent to the names of the Jewish ones. The list appeared as part of a March/April 2004 piece, entitled “Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?” and written by AdBusters’ co-founder and editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn, which alleges that neo-cons have a “special affinity for Israel” that shapes U.S. policy in the Middle East. Lasn, claiming to “tackle the issue head on,” offers up “a carefully researched list” of “the 50 most influential neocons in the US” and stresses that “half of the them [sic] are Jewish.” 
The NYC General Assembly, in its “Principles of Solidarity – working draft,” includes “Empowering one another against all forms of oppression” as a “point of unity.”  The General Assembly, and all supporters of the Wall Street occupation, would do well to pay this more than lip service. To do so demands not only unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism in all of its manifestations in movement, but struggling to get at its roots, too. Anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism have a long, complex, and intertwined history — and it is with good reason that August Bebel, one of the founders of German Social Democracy, described anti-Semitism as “the socialism of fools.” The facile substitution of angry screeds against greed, corruption, and inequality — which, let’s face it, is endemic to the Wall Street protests and much of the Left today — for careful study of capitalism’s law of value and tendency toward crisis not only fosters an environment in which bizarre and racist conspiracy theories flourish, but also prevents the Left from working out a vision of a liberatory alternative to capital and all of its horrors.
[Editor's note added Oct. 14, 2011: Also see MHI's current editorial, "Beware of Left Anti-Semitism."]
 “Supporters of the Wall Street Occupation Demand Free Expression — Except for Jews, Apparently,” September 23, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathalie-rothschild/supporters-of-the-wall-st_b_977505.html.
 “Photo of an anti-semite on Wall Street,” September 19, 2011, Elder of Ziyon blog, http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2011/09/photo-of-anti-semite-on-wall-street.html.
 “Concerns about antisemitism,” http://occupywallst.org/forum/concerns-about-antisemitism/.
 Bill Weinberg’s “Indignado movement comes to Wall Street—with the usual contradictions,” http://ww4report.com/node/10348, offers further discussion of Lasn’s
“Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?” and a link to a PDF reproduction of the article.
 “Principles of Solidarity – working draft,” http://nycga.cc/2011/09/24/principles-of-solidarity-working-draft/.