The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has a unique opportunity to stamp out antisemitism every chance it gets.
A fantastic op-ed was recently published calling out the OWS opponents who are focused, not on countering antisemitism, but on using incidents of it as tools to divide the movement. The piece, by MJ Rosenberg, which ran in the Jewish Journal and Al Jazeera English, details how unchallenged antisemitism has undermined the strengths of popular movements for economic and social justice.
People with anti-Semitic messages have been seen at OWS protests, and OWS participants have responded by spreading the word for others to stay away from them, or better yet, make them feel unwelcome. The OWS movement has consistently rejected antisemitism in its midst.
If only the Tea Party movement would do the same when it comes to racism and antisemitism inside its own networks. From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Rush Limbaugh, there are many examples of antisemitism in modern America. CBS News NY and, of course, Fox News, have both reported on stories of antisemitism at OWS events but remained largely quiet of its existence during Tea Party marches of recent years.
A new group called Emergency Committee for Israel, which is bankrolled by hedge fund managers, was set up to use examples of antisemitism to smear the OWS protests. They recently released a YouTube video showing a sign that read “Google Wall Street Jews.” An Occupy Wall Street supporter followed the man with this sign around until he left.
A few days ago a tweet was being circulated that asked people to imagine what would happen if this kind of antisemitism occurred at Tea Party events. Well, we know what happens. Nothing. There are well-documented incidences of Tea Party groups welcoming anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups to recruit at their events, circulating anti-Semitic emails against other candidates, and making crass Holocaust comparisons.
It’s important for movements fighting for justice, like Occupy Wall Street, to be extra vigilant and not let this wedge divide and conquer all their hard work.