October 25 2011
Stories: The Right’s Failed Protest Smear
When your cries of anti-Semitism fail to rile the Anti-Defamation League, you might be on the wrong track.
That, however, has not stopped various right-wing figures from pushing the idea that Occupy Wall Street is a hotbed of Jew hatred. A group called the Emergency Committee for Israel, co-founded by Bill Kristol, is running television ads designed to scare Jews about the movement and embarrass politicians who’ve been sympathetic to the protesters. They feature footage of three men saying hateful things about Jews, before a voiceover asks: “Why are our leaders turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic, anti-Israel attacks? Tell President Obama and Leader Pelosi to stand up to the mob.” Since then, other conservatives have ceaselessly amplified the message, while complaining that the rest of the media is ignoring rampant bigotry on the left.
But the Anti-Defamation League, which no one can accuse of ignoring anti-Semitism, has been less than alarmed. In a statement, ADL head Abraham H. Foxman expressed concern about a few anti-Semites who’ve showed up at the protests, but said, “There is no evidence that these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants.” Indeed, when Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen went to the demonstrations searching for bigots, he failed to find any. “This was my second visit to the Occupy Wall Street site and the second time my keen reporter’s eye has failed to detect even a hint of the anti-Semitism that had been trumpeted by certain right-wing websites and bloggers, most prominently Bill Kristol,” he wrote.
This is not to say that there is no one at Occupy Wall Street, or its many national offshoots, expressing despicable views. Protests always attract fringe characters, particularly when they provide free food and warm clothes to all comers. The footage that the Emergency Committee for Israel used is real, though somewhat disingenuous. For example, one of the ad’s anti-Semites, a guy holding a sign saying “Google: Zionists Control Wall Street,” has since been identified as a homeless man known to picket the area with such placards before the protests even began. Occupy Wall Street more>