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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Zuccotti Park’

Occupied Territory

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Ever since a light bulb went off in Yasir Arafat’s head and the idea of a Palestinian people was born, Israel has become known to the world as an “occupier.” The narrative of occupation, despite being a complete fiction, has turned the founding of modern Israel from a miraculous story of Jewish rebirth into a sordid genocidal project.

Language serves as one of the Palestinians’ (I use the term for convenience only) chief weapons in their war against the Jews.  The word “occupation” is supposed to conjure images of an arrogant colonial power, hungry to amass land and wealth regardless of who might be trampled upon like scrambling insects.  It paints in black and white:  one party as perpetrator, the other as victim.

Interesting, then, that the hordes of squatters who have, since September, been camped out in Zuccotti Park at the bottom of Manhattan have chosen to call themselves “occupiers.”  The Occupy Wall Street movement portrays itself as representing the victims in this country’s economic downturn, the poor grasshoppers whose rights and interests got squeezed out in the government’s bailout of big financial institutions.  (The gripe about the bailout is but one item on their motley list of grievances, and one of the only coherent ones.)

To me it seems clear that the makeup of the OWS crowd is overwhelmingly liberal, lefty, even a smattering socialist. The same elements who are the first to criticize Israel for every move it makes, to demonize the Jewish state and its supporters and swallow every lie that comes out of the Palestinian propaganda mill, are now raging against the American capitalist machine.

Thus, I find it curious that the protesters adopted for their movement the same pejorative terminology used against Israel.

Any connection here?  I doubt that Israel or the Palestinians were on the protesters’ minds when they hatched their ragtag operation.  Not consciously, anyway.

But I think there’s a notable irony.

This movement is grounded in an entitlement mentality that promotes self-pity above self-sacrifice.  The attitude is: We’ll stay as long as we like, we’ll appropriate the space and resources we need, and we’ll conflate activism with proactivity.

There are many things wrong with OWS—a lack of clear goals, a unified voice, a determinable endpoint, a hodgepodge of complaints as loosely related as Obama is to the pope. But what stands out most, and especially rankles me as a resident of lower Manhattan, is the utter disregard for the rights of others whose daily lives, routines, quality of life, and even livelihoods have been upset for nearly two months.

Police barricades, as well as offensive odors, require pedestrians (not to mention motorists, who are already under assault in Bloomberg’s New York) to reroute themselves, or avoid the area altogether. The already strained NYPD and FDNY, which have suffered diminishing ranks as their budgets continue to shrink, have had to allocate their scarce resources toward protecting the protesters and maintaining some semblance of order and safety in the area.  And local businesses have suffered severe downturns.  The months-old Milk Street Café, a huge, upscale kosher eatery that was drawing both kosher and non-kosher crowds, has already laid off more than 20 employees, and its owner has said he may have to close.

The rapidly growing OWS movement—last I checked, copycat groups had sprung up in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, Sacramento, Toronto, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta,  Minneapolis, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Oakland, Montreal, Vancouver, and many more – has spawned violence and vandalism, all in the name of peaceful social protest.

Just last week in Oakland, riot police arrested dozens of demonstrators who had started a fire on a downtown street and threw chunks of concrete and metal pipes – this after the group had managed to shut down the nation’s fifth busiest port. Even right here in New York, over 800 people have been arrested, most on charges of disorderly conduct.

Troubling Signs In Zuccotti Park

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

There is an element in the Occupy Wall Street movement that should concern the Jewish community. It is not that this so-called people’s protest against alleged corporate greed and banking industry excess has become defined by several anti-Semitic signs in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and some movement-related videos that have surfaced. It hasn’t.

Rather, the cause for concern comes from the cavalier attitude displayed by protest organizers, as well as pubic officials who have endorsed the movement, to the apparent anti-Jewish and anti-Israel impulses of at least some of the protesters.

Indeed, there has been no effort we have seen to make the point that anti-Semitism is not part of the movement’s message even as some are trying to make it so. The sad truth is that anti-Semitism has all too often been a factor in anti-capitalist movements and has led to great tragedy. We have learned that the phenomenon must always be taken seriously.

Yet prominent Democrats like President Obama and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi have publicly expressed support for Occupy Wall Street while ignoring the anti-Semitic placards and statements that have increasingly been a subject of conversation among columnists and in the blogosphere.

It was not too long ago that the newly emergent Tea Party was accused of racism by liberal pundits and Democratic Party officials – based on signs and comments that were far more vague and insubstantial than what has been seen and heard from the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Occupy Wall Street seems to be getting a pass from the mainstream media and elected officials alike.

The New York Times’s Joseph Berger, for example, seemed to pooh-pooh fears of anti-Semitism, writing last Friday:

 

Among the hodgepodge of signs that have sprouted in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, one man in jeans and a baseball cap has been carrying placards that shout their suggestions: “Google: Jewish Billionaires” and “Google: Zionists control Wall St.”

At the same time, among the sea of tarps under which protesters have been sleeping, a sukkah, a makeshift hut, was erected to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot….

The protesters, clustered together in a kind of ad hoc Athenian democracy in the canyons of Lower Manhattan, firmly deny that their demonstrations against corporate greed and the political power of banks exhibit antagonism that singles out Jews.

 

Mr. Berger went on to quote a Jewish protester: “You’re going to get a few wackos. You can’t help it in a population of this size.”

While it’s difficult to take issue with that statement, it hardly explains the widespread silence in the face of the anti-Semitic manifestations, however sporadic or infrequent, that have emerged – particularly when contrasted with the hullabaloo that always seems to erupt when allegations of racism or anti-Semitism are made against individuals or organizations on the right.

Mr. Berger cited an article on the website of Commentary magazine which argued that “it isn’t just a few crackpots engaging in anti-Semitism.” Mr. Berger quoted the Commentary article as saying the “main organizer behind the movement – Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn – has a history of anti-Jewish writing.”

Mr. Lasn indeed expressed great concern about the fact that many neoconservatives associated with President George W. Bush were Jewish. According to Fox News chief political correspondent Dick Brennan, Lasn asked whether “the Jewishness of the neocons influence[d] American foreign policy in the Middle East.” He also, according to Mr. Brennan, drew up a list of people he calls the 50 most influential neocons and wrote: “half of them are Jewish…and if we see maleness, whiteness, Jewishness or intellectual thuggery, then let us not look the other way.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/troubling-signs-in-zuccotti-park-2/2011/10/26/

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