‘Commentary’ smear of Occupy Wall St. doesn’t bother to get basic facts right

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If you’re intent on derailing the Occupy Wall Street protests by tarring demonstrators as anti-Semites, you might bother to get basic facts right. But Alana Goodman at the neoconservative Commentary magazine doesn’t even do that in her zeal to link the Occupy Wall Street protests to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment. 

Put aside Goodman’s contention that the editor of Adbusters, the magazine that put out the original call to occupy Wall Street on September 17, is an anti-Semite (see Phil Weiss on that argument here). 

Goodman doesn’t accurately describe the role of Adbusters in the protests, which, despite their call to occupy Wall Street, is minimalInstead, she writes:

It isn’t just a few crackpots engaging in anti-Semitism incidents at the Occupy Wall Street protests. Apparently, the main organizer behind the movement – Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn – has a history of anti-Jewish writing…

That’s not to say the Occupy Wall Street movement itself is anti-Semitic. But if the top organizer behind the Tea Party turned out to have published a blacklist of American Jews he claimed had dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel, the backlash from the media would be massive. And if the top leader of the Tea Party fought a legal battle with the U.S. Holocaust Museum over an offensive collage he made using Warsaw Ghetto photos, politicians certainly wouldn’t be lining up to support the movement.

Goodman is flat-out wrong on some basic facts about the Occupy Wall Street protests.  There is no leader; the movement’s website itself states that they are a “leaderless resistance movement.”  To say that the editor of Adbusters is a “main organizer” or a “top leader” is false.  Here’s Nathan Schneider in The Nation explaining the Adbusters connection to the Wall Street protesters (my emphasis):

Q: I hear that Adbusters organized Occupy Wall Street? Or Anonymous? Or US Day of Rage? Just who put this together anyway?

A: All of the above, and more. Adbusters made the initial call in mid-July, and also produced a very sexy poster with a ballerina posed atop the Charging Bull statue and riot police in the background. US Day of Rage, the mainly internet-based creation of IT strategist Alexa O’Brien, got involved too and did a lot of the early legwork and tweeting. Anonymous—in its various and multiform visages—joined in late August. On the ground in New York, though, most of the planning was done by people involved in the NYC General Assembly, a collection of activists, artists and students first convened by folks who had been involved in New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts. That coalition of students and union workers had just finished a three-week occupation near City Hall called Bloombergville protesting the mayor’s plans for budget cuts and layoffs. They had learned from the experience and were itching to do it again, this time with the hope of having a bigger impact. But no one person or group is running the Wall Street occupation entirely

It’s no surprise that the right is trying to derail a growing and popular movement, and that the most ardent defenders of Israel have begun to attack protests that have anti-war, anti-occupation and anti-corporate leanings.  But at least get the story straight. 

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs at alexbkane.wordpress.com.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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