NEW YORK—A right-wing, pro-Israel group called the Emergency Committee for Israel has released a commercial that portrays the ongoing protests against the cozy relationship between government and corporations as anti-Semitic.
The ad begins with a voice-over claiming that some political leaders are sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street, followed by sound bites in which Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, President Obama and commentator Eliot Spitzer make statements in support of protesters.
Viewers are then asked to consider what the protests are really about and shown clips in which supposed protesters connect Jews to the media and the financial industry and berate an elderly man wearing a yarmulke. Then the voice-over asks: “Why are our leaders turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic, anti-Israel attacks? Tell President Obama and ... Pelosi to stand up to the mob. Hate is not an American value.”
As the OWS movement becomes a threat to entrenched power, smear campaigns against it are sure to come from the political and media establishment. Fortunately, there are reporters at Liberty Plaza who can see through such efforts. As one of them, I can tell you that I have not witnessed any acts of anti-Semitism and that there is even a growing Jewish presence inside the park.
All of the Jews I have met at Liberty have seemed comfortable among the protesters. Men wearing full beards with their hair in side curls have talked freely with just about every kind of person in the park and one group has even erected a sukkah—a temporary hut in which Jews pray to celebrate the festival of Sukkot. The only heated conversation I heard between Jews and non-Jews was on the subject of whether children should be raised with religious instruction—a topic that struck me as appropriate and necessary for a group of people that have gathered to talk about the kind of world they want for themselves.
Social tension is to be expected in the microcosm of society that protesters have created at Liberty Plaza. While the gathering may not perfectly replicate the social relationships of American society at large, its members are inevitably drawn from the public, and they bring with them a fair measure of its diversity of values, customs and beliefs, including, without a doubt, some ugly ones. —Alexander Reed Kelly
Truthdig reporter Alexander Kelly has been reporting on Occupy Wall Street from Liberty Plaza. For more, visit truthdig.com/dig/occupy_wall_street
mr. nightshade (CC-BY)
Two young Jewish men in the crowd at Liberty Plaza.