I’ve been among those criticizing the Occupy Wall Street protests for their absence of focus and lack of specific demands. So I was pleased to see one protester getting extremely specific:
Conor Friedersdorf, a writer for The Atlantic who came up with that catchy slogan, tells the story.
As for the occasional antisemitic signs and outbursts at the protests, Jeffrey Goldberg writes:
Sure, there is going to be hostile anti-Jewish feeling expressed at the margins of any populist movement, but a) it appears as if the people expressing these thoughts… are real outliers; b) it’s obvious to me that most people who attend these rallies are angry about corporate greed and excessive CEO compensation (among other financial concerns) and not about Israel or perfidious Jews; and c) this movement has (like most political movements, actually) disproportionate Jewish representation. To say that there are occasional outbursts of anti-Semitism at Occupy Wall Street is not to say that Occupy Wall Street itself is antisemitic. The University of Chicago has an anti-Semitic professor on the faculty, but does this make the university itself anti-Semitic?
Update: The New York Jewish Week reports:
Just as his organization once called on leaders of the Tea Party movement to condemn “manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism” at their rallies, says Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, it’s now urging “organizers, participants and supporters” of the Occupy Wall Street protests to take similar steps.
At the same time, Foxman adds, the ADL has seen “no evidence” that anti-Semitic views are representative of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as a whole, or that they’re “gaining traction” among other participants. And he criticizes the Emergency Committee for Israel, a right-wing Israel advocacy group, for creating TV ads that, in his words, “exaggerate” or “politicize” the matter.
The manifestations refer to a small number of anti-Semitic signs and comments that have appeared at the protests, including a handmade placard claiming that “Zionists control Wall Street” and one man’s hateful tirade, captured on video, against an elderly Jewish visitor to Zuccotti Park, site of the New York protest.
The man responsible for the sign has come to the protest on a near-daily basis, but has refused to share his name, JTA reports. He has also carried a sign denouncing “Jewish bankers” and called President Barack Obama a “Jewish puppet.” But organizers and activists have tried to provide a counterpoint, holding their own signs deriding him.
Further update: Here’s a good response to the charges of antisemitism at OWS, including this:
If anyone has similar examples of Tea Party protesters calling out the haters in their ranks, I’ll be pleased to link to them.
(Hat tip: Gordon Lamont)