Thursday, October 20, 2011

Letter to a friend

I absolutely saw no antisemitism in the Freedom Plaza "Stop the Machine" occupation and actions in Washington DC or in the Occupy Wall Street actions Saturday in NYC. I certainly would have been appalled had I witnessed any.  I have absolutely zero tolerance for that kind of shit, as do my friends and colleagues in progressive causes.

I became aware yesterday, however, of a conservative link documenting some instances of antisemitism with the Occupy movements around the country. Some of the instances featured in that link are indeed troublesome--even disgusting (harassing a Jewish person, for example), but I personally saw nothing of the sort.

I will say that a couple of the instances on that link that are labeled antisemitism I would not label such: support for Palestinians in the West Bank or in Gaza, support for the flotillas to Gaza, denunciations of aggressive, expansionistic Israeli Zionist policies (such as the expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and/or the demolition of Palestinian homes). I believe it is possible to denounce such inhuman policies, to be very critical of the Zionist project, without being antisemitic. (I refer you to an interview with a former Israeli Minister of Education for insights about the glib accusations of antisemitism in>

I am deeply troubled by the clearly antisemitic instances featured in the conservative newsmax link in my second paragraph, and I would like to know more about it. What have you seen that led you to write your note about the "number of anti-Semites"? Though I have not seen such ugly things myself, I do not doubt their possibility. That said, I have my suspicions when or if the source of these accusations are Fox News or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or other such.

I was part of an action at the Air and Space Museum in DC where a provocateur stirred up trouble (pushing a museum guard), making it seem that we are not as nonviolent as we claim. I've heard of several other cases of provocateurs (a la Andrew Breitbart) infiltrating us. I would not be surprised (and, of course, would be relieved) if the truly antisemitic instances were actually acts of provocateurs.

That said, I acknowledge that we Wall Street Occupation protestors might very well attract ugly "allies" in our ranks. I recently unfriended a Facebook "friend" in Egypt (whose comments about the plight of the Palestinians I had liked) after I learned that a "book" he called his inspiration was the fraudulent and forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The original clip of the Minister of Education interview had comments that were disgusting (such as that Hitler didn't finish the job), and I had to find a way to put the very valid interview on my blog without attaching those comments. If ever I encounter any such an "ally," I will be sure to confront him or her.

I lend my support to a local group dedicated to inform people about the Palestinian plight and to counter the overly weighted support our country gives to Israeli policies right-or-wrong: the Middle East Crisis Response, and I hope you don't mind that I have copied our correspondence with some of my friends in that group. Perhaps they have some insights into this problem of attracting ugly "allies" or of the complete story behind reports of antisemitism.

Thanks for your note and for your valid concerns, Annie. Please keep me posted with documentation about incidents that truly besmirch our good cause.

Your friend,