Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Judaism?

  Last week I found myself standing at the Occupy Burlington protest, a partial piece of the phenomenon spreading throughout the world. As of now the movement has spread to over 1,500 cities globally. Incredible as I originally found the movement, I discovered that recently the movement has been attached to connotations of anti-Semitism. There are countless YouTube videos of self-identified occupy protesters in New York City holding up signs that read things like “Hitler’s Bankers – Wall St.” or “Blame the Jews.” Is “Blaming the Jews” going to become consistent with a movement I thought I could strongly believe in? Because to me it sounds eerily similar to pre-war Germany. Another YouTube video shows a protestor loudly and aggressively proclaiming “the Jews control wall street” as he stands in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park ranting against Israel and Jews. To claim that “Zionists Rule America” is simply putting your ignorance and naivety up on a pedestal. Clearly education has gone wrong somewhere because a lot of people like to believe that Wall Street is all made up of all Jewish people. According to the 1999 Forbes 400 “Rich List” only 23 percent are Jewish. Why should I, and people who understand the ridiculousness of these claims, go on to support something that invites the ignorance other’s. Is it reliable to assume that the Wall Street resistance does not whole-heartedly support and preach the beliefs of these certain individuals? By allowing and not condemning it says something to me and, I’m sure, a multitude of other people.           These “flashes of anti-Semitism” are obscuring the message of a movement I truly believe in. It has even turned President Obama and Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, “to retract their expressions of support for the Wall Street protests.” Usually the goals of such progressive movements are to achieve wide spectrums of praise, to have it taken away due to bouts of racism and hate is embarrassing.   I respect the attempts of people involved in OWS to try to disparage the anti-Semitic accusations by holding Yom Kippur services in lower Manhattan: I believe in that, but it does nothing to let eruptions of bigotry unfold throughout the protests. Kalle Lasn, the main organizer behind the movement, should be aware of it. Funny enough, there are multiple claims to Lasn’s own anti-Semitism; the Adbusters editor “has a history of anti-Jewish writing,” according to Commentary, a politically conservative magazine founded by the American Jewish Committee. Regardless of whether or not Kalle Lasn is anti-Semitic is not the question; it is the fact that the question has even been raised. It’s sad to learn that someone who seems to have proven himself so well educated and capable of creating a successful business has the potential to be incredibly ignorant. Get your shit together, Lasn. You’ve been credited multiple times by numerous magazines and newspapers with organizing Occupy Wall Street. If you truly want the support of the world, or even the country, you need to learn how to appeal to the people, or at least support them. I propose OWS condemns anti-Semitism or any message remotely racist or bigoted. The movement should at least make it clear whether they do not care, or are not affiliated with it. Yes, Kalle Lasn, I’m still talking to you.  I know it’s been said repeatedly that Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless movement, but it needs to be acknowledged that the anti-Semitic incidents are becoming a problem. Until then, I don’t think I and others who are Jewish, have a place in the movement.