Wall Street Protests Marred by Anti-Semitism

Wall Street Protests Marred by Anti-Semitism
by Seth Weiss

While the Left celebrates the Wall Street occupation with much fanfare — including endorsements from Michael Moore, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, and Susan Sarandon — an anti-Semitic undercurrent in the protests goes largely unchallenged. Consider Nathalie Rothschild’s account in the Huffington Post of the noxious response elicited by her unflattering portrait of protesters in the online journal Spiked. According to Rothschild:

I received a string of indignant emails and tweets about my Jewish, kleptocrat banking connections; demands that I reveal the details of my pay checks and that I come clean about my not-so-hidden agenda. I was told that my family name disqualifies me from having any opinion about the protest and that I have ‘the karma of a demon’. One reader posted my article online, headlining the post ‘Journalist & Jew – Nathalie ROTHSCHILD’. [1]

There have also been reports of protestors at Wall Street holding signs with clearly anti-Semitic statements; one such sign instructs passersby to search on Google for “Wall St. Jews,” “Jewish Billionaires,” and the like. [2] A recent post on the online Public Forum of the NYC General Assembly, the decentralized grouping that has emerged as the leadership of the movement, notes that “It is common for statements to be made, placing overwhelming blame and responsibility on Jews for the economic crisis” and asks “what can be done about the existence of anti-Semitic statements made by so-called supporters of the protest?” The post has received responses accusing the author of pursuing a “witch hunt” and others suggesting that readers “Look into who was involved in setting up the Federal Reserve in 1913.” [3]

The initial call for the September 17th Wall Street demonstration came from the Canadian-based AdBusters, an activist publication focused on “culture jamming” and anti-consumerism, which once published a list of prominent neo-conservatives with black dots placed adjacent to the names of the Jewish ones. The list appeared as part of a March/April 2004 piece, entitled “Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?” and written by AdBusters’ co-founder and editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn, which alleges that neo-cons have a “special affinity for Israel” that shapes U.S. policy in the Middle East. Lasn, claiming to “tackle the issue head on,” offers up “a carefully researched list” of “the 50 most influential neocons in the US” and stresses that “half of the them [sic] are Jewish.” [4]

The NYC General Assembly, in its “Principles of Solidarity – working draft,” includes “Empowering one another against all forms of oppression” as a “point of unity.” [5] The General Assembly, and all supporters of the Wall Street occupation, would do well to pay this more than lip service. To do so demands not only unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism in all of its manifestations in movement, but struggling to get at its roots, too. Anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism have a long, complex, and intertwined history — and it is with good reason that August Bebel, one of the founders of German Social Democracy, described anti-Semitism as “the socialism of fools.” The facile substitution of angry screeds against greed, corruption, and inequality — which, let’s face it, is endemic to the Wall Street protests and much of the Left today — for careful study of capitalism’s law of value and tendency toward crisis not only fosters an environment in which bizarre and racist conspiracy theories flourish, but also prevents the Left from working out a vision of a liberatory alternative to capital and all of its horrors.

[Editor’s note added Oct. 14, 2011: Also see MHI’s current editorial, “Beware of Left Anti-Semitism.”]

[1] “Supporters of the Wall Street Occupation Demand Free Expression — Except for Jews, Apparently,” September 23, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathalie-rothschild/supporters-of-the-wall-st_b_977505.html.
[2] “Photo of an anti-semite on Wall Street,” September 19, 2011, Elder of Ziyon blog, http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2011/09/photo-of-anti-semite-on-wall-street.html.
[3] “Concerns about antisemitism,” http://occupywallst.org/forum/concerns-about-antisemitism/.
[4] Bill Weinberg’s “Indignado movement comes to Wall Street—with the usual contradictions,” http://ww4report.com/node/10348, offers further discussion of Lasn’s
“Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?” and a link to a PDF reproduction of the article.
[5] “Principles of Solidarity – working draft,” https://web.archive.org/web/20111003190346/http://nycga.cc/2011/09/24/principles-of-solidarity-working-draft/.


  1. I’m a little skeptical about protesters being anti-semetic as much as anti-zionists, but they really should not be using that language; that is clearly wrong.
    But just so you know,#OccupyWallStreet is not a leftist movement. Sure, leftists, socialists, unions and even partisan democrats are trying to hijack the movement, and try to reign it in as a leftist Tea Party, but that has not happened yet. This is simply about Wall Street corruption and crony capitalism.
    I’ve seen many a moderate conservative and even libertarian there, which is great by me as long as our goal is a democratic and anti-authoritarian one.

  2. Occupy Boston has published an Internal Solidarity Statement at the outset of their encampment that is infinitely better than OWS’s Declaration of Principles which target corporations (apparently not capitalism as such) who have “perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.”


    We are the 99%, and our task is to unify the 99%. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and ridden with various other forms of oppression.

    As the Occupy Boston community, we will consciously and urgently work on dismantling these systems of oppression in our movement. We are working on creating a community where everyone’s rights are respected, protected, and treated equally. We all have different levels of privilege that we strive to acknowledge and educate ourselves about in order to ensure that these privileges are not used to oppress others. We want to have an inclusive atmosphere of ideas in which we do not police each other’s thoughts, but we have absolutely no tolerance for oppressive or intimidating words or actions. If a conflict arises it should, if possible, be settled through democratic discussion or debate; otherwise, it should be settled with the help of the Conflict Resolution Team, the Support Team, or both, if necessary.

    We do not welcome any of the following in our community:

    * White supremacy (racism against people of all colors)
    * Patriarchy (sexism)
    * Ageism
    * Discrimination based on ability
    * Homophobia or heteronormativity
    * Transphobia
    * Anti-Arab sentiment
    * Anti-Jewish sentiment
    * Religious intolerance or intolerance of nonreligious people
    * Islamaphobia [sic]
    * Class oppression (classism)
    * Cultural intolerance
    * Discrimination based on immigration status
    * Discrimination based on experiences with the justice system
    * Disregard for indigenous rights
    * Weight-based discrimination

  3. On LiveLeaks, the reposted Nathalie Rothschild story carries the following tags: “Jew, Nathalie Rothschild, Journalist, Jewish, Zionist, Greed, Greedy, Corrupt, Wall Street”. This is why rage against greed, corruption, Wall Street, and even much of the rage against Zionism, is so worrisome. As Seth says, it needs to be redirected toward an understanding of capitalism, its law of value, and its tendency toward crisis.

    It’s high time to realize that the latter things are just *different* from the former ones. And they aren’t “more abstract”; they’re just different. If they seem abstract, that’s simply because they’re unfamiliar. Of course, that’s because the Jews control the media and want to encourage anti-Semitism instead of an examination of capitalism 😉

  4. What we are experiencing is a cultural warming. A lot of frustrated individuals looking for a venue to vent. History has shown us, that this kind of hatred most always is in search of a scapegoat.As a society, we stand at a crossroads. Do we want to remain captives of our own captive to our egoistic instincts.
    If there is to be a scapegoat, it should be hatred itself and this needs to be weeded out LITERALLY as a symbolic gesture to cleanse our souls and garden our spirits.

  5. Dola, you COWARD. I’ve been browsing the Occupy Boston blog, and it’s clear you have a LOT of antisemites joining your movement. Someone’s posting all over the blog about “the Zionists running the banks that have taken over our country,” and the only response they’ve gotten is “you’re not helping.” Not, “get out,” not “you’re wrong and we don’t want you in our movement,” not “stay away from our protest with your racist garbage,” but just “you’re not helping.” That’s PATHETIC.

    You say “conflict…should be settled through democratic discussion or debate?” RIDICULOUS. Someone saying things like that should simply be kicked out of your movement, PERIOD. There’s nothing to discuss with someone like that. You don’t “negotiate” with them, you tell them to go start their own protest and stay the heck away from yours. And until you get the guts to stand up for what’s right and kick these people out, you’ll continue to look like a bunch of childish little punks that are just trying to create as much noise as possible.

  6. DB, I am in NYC, which as Seth’s article has shown, has its own problems with anti-Semitic garbage. I did not write the solidarity statement of Occupy Boston, and I can’t answer for what goes on on their blogs/message boards, but you’re right: that stuff should not be politely ushered to the side, it should be kicked to the curb.

    Here’s a friendly note from me to you that throwing ad hominem attacks around are not tolerated on this website. Thanks.

  7. news from se frontline

    The ows-“movement” has also appeared in germany. in berlin, where I live, a demontration of some 2.000 protesters was marching from the reichstag through the inner city. There were lots of signs that warned against a “new world order”, where “we” (the germans) have to pay for the debt of a few american brokers and where the “corrupt mafia” of the markets and politics opress the 99% powerless. The most shocking sign was one, where u could see bodies, hanging down from lanterns with the slogan “it´s time for a lantern-procession” (in germany there are processions for kids in the wintertime, where they carry little hand-lanterns). Of course there were some people calling for “solidarity with all palestinian prisoners” and some with palestinian flags. It seems that the regressive anti-capitalists, anti-americans, anti-zionists have a big influence on the protests here in germany.


  8. if you look, you’ll see that the Jersey City Peace Movement (mentioned in the previous “Beware of Left Anti-Semitism” post) is also involved in co-sponsoring at least one OWS-related march. who woulda thunk..

  9. Everyone is looking for a scapegoat. The rich are always to blame, and of course a lot of jews are wealthy…

    Maybe we should just move to some country where the wealth have been taken away from that 1% so we can see what it is like?
    While the occupiers are riling against the corporations, they are supporting them by using the goods produced by them. (cell phones, computers, ipads, getting starbucks coffee, purchasing tents and stoves etc. etc.)

    Just purchased another case of buttered popcorn to enjoy while watching the spectacle unfold.

  10. Ann,

    It is wrong to assume that buying commodities (useful goods producd for sale) amounts to “supporting” the corporations. That would imply that lifestyle choices – basically, a choice to significantly lower one’s living standard as a statement of principle – indeed might function as a viable means of struggle, both political and economic. In its worst, this non-argument takes up the form of petty moralizing over consumption patterns which inevitably results in demands to cease with political activity – ’cause, y’know, things can get much worse (just look at the underdeveloped world) and you need to shut up. And that’s an ideological (though it strikes at human emotions, empathy in particular) tool of ruling class hegemony.

    Now, as for the anti-semitism, it’s no wonder that confused individuals and groups tend to identify zionism with the ethnicity itself. It would be surprising if decades of ideology haven’t produced such a swamp of contradictory positions and attitudes. And I’d fully support (I would were I living in the US, and I’m not in fact) any move to aggressively get rid of such elements, provided that they are confronted with rational arguments showing them where they go wrong. For any clear headed “radical” it is clear that whether the banker, industrialist, manager, politician, is named Hans, John, Kwame, or Yitzak – it is totally irrelevant, becuase social relations of capital are not bound by ethnicity or culture. They are essentially the same, global and hegemonic.

  11. Oh yes, I forgot: it’s also unsurprising that the deluded anti-germans would try to spread their illusions any chance they get. A word of advice: crawl back to the whole you got out of.

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