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

on 29 Comments

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.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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29 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    October 14, 2011, 2:21 pm

    The problem with these folks bashing the protests is – they engender ZERO sympathy in anyone, other than some jewish folks and maybe some elected leaders – although sympathy might not be as good a description as “intimidation”. Bill Kristol is REPUGNANT, so is Commentary and most of the other “pro israel/zionism” news magazines.

    These people on one page of their magazines write articles bashing muslims, the poor, the uneducated and “leftists” – and on the other, they cry that their favored people are being mistreated. Fuck You.

    People like Goodman, Kristol and Foxman wouldnt spit on a woman in hijab if she was on fire – but I’m supposed to care that some “master of the universe” is catching some sht?

    I loathe any kind of discrimination and racism – but Im done with these anti-universalists. They ONLY care about themselves and “their” people. FAH-Q.

    • iamuglow
      October 14, 2011, 3:20 pm



      Thats a great one Dan. I’m going to start using that.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 14, 2011, 3:23 pm

        Its a Boston thing. Its how its sounds coming from a boston natives mouth!
        I hear it alot everday on the T!

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 14, 2011, 4:03 pm

      RE: “People like Goodman, Kristol and Foxman wouldn’t spit on a woman in hijab if she was on fire” ~ Dan Crowther

      MY REPLY: Obviously when you refer to “Goodman”, you mean Alana Goodman of Commentary, and not the much better known Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

      • Dan Crowther
        October 14, 2011, 6:08 pm

        yea, obviously – i was referring to the goodman mentioned in the post, Alana.

        Im pretty sure Amy Goodman would get a fire extinguisher, and call for help

      • DICKERSON3870
        October 14, 2011, 7:00 pm

        I’m not very good with names (dysnomia), so I actually had to go back up to the article to confirm that you were not referring to Amy Goodman. When I first read the article, the name Alana Goodman did not mean anything to me, so I pretty much ignored it and focused on Commentary.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 14, 2011, 7:20 pm

        no worries dickerson – it happens to me all the time

        thanks for that CUFI excerpt on the other post!

  2. James
    October 14, 2011, 3:18 pm

    adbusters has hit a little too close to home for the zionista crowd… if someone accused mondoweiss of having a history of ””’anti-jewish”” writing, would anyone be surprised??? the reality is adbusters has played a role similar to mondoweiss is trying to get people to wake up… for all i know adbusters is run by people of jewish decent too…

    you can make crap like this up but someone in the mainstream media will definitely beat you to it..

    • James
      October 14, 2011, 3:30 pm


      co-founder of adbusters –

      Kalle Lasn (born March 24, 1942) is a Canadian author, magazine editor and activist. Near the end of World War II his family fled Estonia and Lasn spent his childhood in a German refugee camp. He was then resettled in Australia. In the 1960s, he founded a market research company in Tokyo, and in 1970, moved to Vancouver, Canada. For twenty years, he produced documentaries for PBS and Canada’s National Film Board. He is the founder of Adbusters magazine and author of the books Culture Jam and Design Anarchy and is the co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which owns the magazine. Lasn currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.”



  3. annie
    October 14, 2011, 3:27 pm

    thank you alex. i’m finding the arms length of the charge of anti semitism stranger and stranger. it is as if the insult is so derogatory it is being used to silence…anything they don’t like! crazy.

    • Proton Soup
      October 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

      yes, absolutely. coming from ziosupremecists, shouting “anti-semite” is equivalent to using the n-word. of course they would shout ****** here. when you belong to the most successful ethnic group, and people want to overturn your applecart, you lose your cool and say rash things.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    October 14, 2011, 3:41 pm

    RE: “‘Commentary’ smear of Occupy Wall St. doesn’t bother to get basic facts right” ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: This is why I say Commentary (a magazine I enjoyed reading many years ago) now reminds me of the Heaven’s Gate cult. It is also reminds me of the the LaRouche cult. Zealotry lives!
    Heaven’s Gate (religious group) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven's_Gate_(religious_group)

    P.S. MEET MY NEW “DROP DEAD GORGEOUS” ICON/AVATAR! Are those “Bette Davis eyes” (VIDEO-03:38), or are they the cold, calculating eyes of a sociopath (or perhaps even a psychopath)?
    “RAYMOND DAVIS: GUNS, CARS, AND BAGELS”, by Amy Davidson, 10/05/11 – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2011/10/raymond-davis-guns-cars-and-bagels.html

  5. Talkback
    October 14, 2011, 4:04 pm

    The antisemitism accusers are not different from antisemites. They look for on or two black sheep in a group and then accuse the whole group of being black sheeps and that it would be in their nature to be black. They more they cry antisemitism, the more I smell philosemitic or antigentile rascism.

    • yourstruly
      October 14, 2011, 11:35 pm

      these israel-firsters are the antisemites, because it’s the belligerence of the settler entity that they work so hard for that stokes antisemistism. come justice for palestine and antisemitism shrinks to a size that could be kept in a small jar. so once again the truth is the opposite of what zionists say, they’re the antisemites/self-haters, while those of us who say “not in my/our name”, we’re the true jews*

      *the true jew always sides with the oppressed, never with the oppressor, even (better, especially) when the oppressor happens to be a co-religionist, as is the case in occupied palestine

  6. VR
    October 14, 2011, 4:10 pm

    You have the old ruse here of making everything having to do with Israel Jewish, hence opposition to a murderous colonial settler state becomes antisemitism. Worse yet is the specter of the wind being knocked out of capitalism’s sails which is a primary supporter of all the colonial activity currently taking place in the world, including Israeli colonialism.

    In the meantime what is happening is a process of real time education, and the ranks are swiftly learning what the policing forces stand for in America, elite interest – it is nothing new, just new to the some of the Occupy Wall Street crew which is now over 200 plus locations strong and growing. So awareness is growing exponentially of where the foundational juice is coming from for the global atrocities. Those on the wrong side of history have every reason to be scared, because the primary gravy train is going to be derailed –


  7. pabelmont
    October 14, 2011, 4:27 pm

    Whaddya mean, Commentary is wrong? Gee whizz, complain, complain.

    It’s clear that OWS is anti-Semitic (that is, anti-Israel, but we pronounce that “Anti-semitic” (in Boston) (and in NYC)).

    Why? That’s easy, silly. Because it uses the word “Occupy”, and everybody knows that to even say the “O” word is anti-Israel (i.e., a-S). And the protesters, who cannot agree on much else, are agreed that they are doing an “occupation”.

    So there it is! Commentary is right, once again. Whew!

    Of course, I say that Wall Street is occupying America.

  8. yourstruly
    October 14, 2011, 11:50 pm

    tomorrow in america there’ll be a great many ows-related events taking place
    i’m going to one of them
    hey, the train’s taking off
    don’t get left behind

  9. RoHa
    October 15, 2011, 12:27 am

    “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,…”

    If he is right about those people having dual loyalty, and that dual loyalty leads them to acting against the best interests of the U.S. , wouldn’t publishing the list be a good thing?

    • yourstruly
      October 15, 2011, 7:42 am

      publish the list of all the most influential israel-firsters, jewish, christian, name it. outing only the jewish israel-firsters could be construed as antisemitic

      • RoHa
        October 16, 2011, 6:50 pm

        “outing only the jewish israel-firsters could be construed as antisemitic”

        Just about everything could be construed as anti-Semitic, and most things are so construed by those determined to do find anti-Semitism in everything.

        Do we, therefore, have to refrain from naming Jews unless we can name an equal or greater number of non-Jews in the same context?

      • yourstruly
        October 18, 2011, 1:16 pm

        one reason to publish the names of at least some christian israel-firsters is that it might make them think twice before risking being outed for putting the interests of the settler entity before that of the u.s. of a. anything that chips away at christian evangelical support for the settler entity can only advance the cause of palestinian liberation, which, after all, is what the struggle is all about.

    • Hostage
      October 16, 2011, 11:22 am

      In 2009, the magazine published a photomontage comparing the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto. This sparked a legal dispute between the magazine and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which reportedly owned the Warsaw photos used by Adbusters.

      There are no plans for a federally-supported living memorial on the national mall devoted to teaching us how to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity by showcasing the Native American and Philippine genocides or the Japanese civilian victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, it comes as no surprise that you can’t use Holocaust Museum photos to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity in Gaza.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2011, 12:11 pm

        The US approving the construction of a Holocaust Museum on the mall before there was a museum about Slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans is a slap in the face to the Africans, African-Americans and Native Americans who were directly affected by the US.

  10. American
    October 15, 2011, 3:50 am

    “Huffington Post – 1 day ago

    “I donate money to AIPAC as well as our local Jewish federation (CJP). Although I strongly support a two-state solution, I worry that anti-Semitism remains …”

    I couldn’t resist this quote. This guy is an AIPAC’er and yet worries about anti semitism when American’s resentment of AIPAC activities in our government is one of the major causes of what is referred to as anti semitism.
    I don’t know what to call this…blindness? stupidity?.. what is it?
    It baffles me.
    It’s like a child who put his hand on a hot stove and then ask why did it burn me.

  11. jayn0t
    October 15, 2011, 3:04 pm

    “The most ardent defenders of Israel have begun to attack protests that have anti-war, anti-occupation and anti-corporate leanings”. But they don’t have very strong anti-Zionist leanings, do they? They’re not thinking of surrounding the Israeli embassy like they did in Cairo. By attacking the movement as anti-Semitic, the neo-cons give the false impression that the US left is strongly opposed to Jewish apartheid. That is not the case.

  12. dumvitaestspesest
    October 15, 2011, 8:26 pm

    Always working, very reliable and effective, although somewhat rusty and definately over-misused “Anti-Semitism Canon” is rolled out again.
    This time is aimed at Wall Street protesters.
    “Oh yes, they are anti, anti , anti -Semitic”.
    Boo and hoo. Cry me a river, baby. It ain’t work for me anymore.
    You ‘ve been using it too much. It may backfire at you. Straight in your face.

  13. hophmi
    October 16, 2011, 10:09 am

    It’s silly to attack ows as antisemitic. i was there, and aside from one guy holding up a sign about how Zionists control the world accompanied by two people holding signs pointing to his indicating his sign did not represent the ows, I didn’t see any antisemitic signs. These people are smartly not mixing antisemitism with anticorporatism, as you people are.

  14. jayn0t
    October 16, 2011, 12:19 pm

    What I really meant to say is that hysterical attacks by Zionists on the left, which is completely ineffective at Palestine solidarity, give its participants a feeling of self-righteousness, as if the attacks prove they are doing something. They also distract people into denying they are anti-Semitic, which gives the impression that they have to prove it, which weakens their ability to deal with the no. 1 issue, the Lobby.

    They also give the impression that combating Zionism is a left vs. right thing, which it isn’t, but which is what this article (and most of this site!) seems to imply.

  15. Justice Please
    October 16, 2011, 5:43 pm

    Alana Goodman just volunteered for a place in prison. Soon enough, aiding and abetting the criminal 1% should be a punishable offense.

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