‘Ready for a Tahrir moment?’ – Occupy Wall Street, the ‘Arab Spring’ and Israel/Palestine

on 41 Comments

occupywallstreetThe Occupy Wall Street protests taking place in New York, and spreading across the country, continue to grow. If you haven’t yet, please check it out, and read these profiles of “the 99 percent” who are inspiring, and inspired by, the protests.

Although it has become a bit of a mainstream media cliche to say that the Occupy Wall Street protest is an American “Arab Spring,” it is undeniable that the Egyptian revolution, and other protests across the Middle East have inspired the protesters. In February Phil wrote about the coming American “love affair with the Arab world,” and while not all his predictions have come true (yet), the video above shows the inspiration lives on. Here is how the New York protesters describe themselves:

Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

And here was the graphic announcing the protests on the Adbusters blog:

adbusters blog occupywallst

There has also been some interesting discussion about Israel, anti-semitism, and Occupy Wall Street. You can follow one discussion on a protest website here, and Max Ajl has commented on his blog Jewbonics:

Daniel Sieradski [suggests] that a sign which reads, “End financial aid to Israel, end occupation of Gaza,” is going to scare off the “7 million” [sic] Jewish New Yorkers who support murdering Palestinian children. According to this line of thinking, if the Occupy Wall Street Protests are going to attract a broader base – like the mostly middle class or working class Arab communities in Bay Ridge, the Iraqi cab drivers, the Yemeni and Egyptian deli operators and the Moroccan kebab-stand proprietors of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the mostly poor or working Afghan, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities on Coney Island Avenue and Queens, all of whom hate the occupation, let alone the broader white, black, and Puerto Rican working classes whose tax dollars go, in yearly three billion dollar chunks, to Israeli Aircraft Industries in the holy land or straight to Raytheon and Boeing in America, in the process chopping up some Lebanese and Palestinian children into pieces – they have to drop issues like the occupation and military aid to Israel.

Explain to me how this works. An anti-capitalist anti-corporate movement for social justice should not also be antisemitic. That goes without saying. But apparently it should also, Sieradski seems to be demanding, accommodate Jews, not simply as Jews, on the basis of mutual respect for others, but as people whose identity is intimately bound up with occupying Gaza and ensuring that people shower in water filled with fecal residue. On its own terms this is ugly. Israeli war crimes are carried out with American tax dollars. Whose sensibilities are we offending by suggesting that a non-sectarian movement include those suffering in a different but related way from the same system? “Those other Jews”? Or Sieradski’s?

Sieradski engages with Ajl in the comments section of the post. It’s worth checking out for an interesting (albeit somewhat profane) discussion of the role of Israel/Palestine in broader movements for justice and accountability. 

Finally, the Forward‘s Joshua Nathan-Kazis followed Tel Aviv tent protest organizer Ronen Eidelman down to protests to gauge his reaction. He was not happy to see the Israeli example ignored, but it seems to be another indication that the “Arab Spring” inspiration goes beyond just tactics:

But while Eidelman held out hope for the Wall Street protests, the Tel Aviv-based demonstrations were conspicuously absent from the Wall Street protesters’ rhetoric. The protesters regularly cite the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the ongoing protests in Madrid. But Rothschild Boulevard is rarely name-checked.

“There is some hesitancy with proclaiming to be in solidarity with the tent protests in Tel Aviv, because there has not been a direct call from those protests to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” said Ari Cowan, 21, who said on September 26 that he had slept in the plaza all but two of the nine nights of the occupation.

The complaint, which is not uncommon, is one for which Eidelman has little patience.

“To look at a social movement only through the prism of the Palestinian struggle, that’s very limiting,” Eidelman said. “What do you expect, we’re going to change the whole system in two months?”

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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41 Responses

  1. iamuglow
    October 4, 2011, 1:09 pm

    ‘But Rothschild Boulevard is rarely name-checked’

    What was the difference between the J14 protest and the Egyptian revolution..oops, nevermind, answered that myself.

  2. hophmi
    October 4, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Stand, Walk, Unite like an Egyptian?

    Let’s wait for Egypt to actually become a democracy before we say stuff like that.

    Nobody important will buy into a protest that equates Mubarak’s Egypt with the USA.

    • yourstruly
      October 4, 2011, 1:30 pm

      “nobody important will buy into a protest that equates Mubarak’s Egypt with the USA”

      in mass uprisings such as those that first swept through the arab, then the european, now (perhaps) the american world, everyone is important, everyone a leader. it’s what liberation is all about. sustaining this egalitarian impulse, ah, that’s the rub.

    • Ellen
      October 4, 2011, 1:45 pm

      hoph….err, To the contrary. Or are you making a joke?

      The protest is about liberation of corrupt forces that steal from us all, and Mubarak’s Egypt and all his supporters represented that.

      • hophmi
        October 4, 2011, 6:42 pm

        “The protest is about liberation of corrupt forces that steal from us all, and Mubarak’s Egypt and all his supporters represented that.”

        Uh-huh. Most Egyptians lived in poverty and Mubarak had tens of billions of dollars. Exactly how are living in any kind of similar situation?

      • Chaos4700
        October 5, 2011, 8:42 am

        Very nearly one-quarter of children in the United States live at or below the poverty line. At least as many have no access to health care. Meanwhile, the finance and energy industries are turning profits at margins that have never been seen in human history.

        But I don’t suppose you get out among the “lesser people” much, do you?

      • Ellen
        October 5, 2011, 9:01 am

        Details may differ, but the game is the same. Mubarak and his circle stole for decades. In the US we have a political class that has been stealing from the US populace as well.

        Like Egypt, (and Israel for that matter) look how much of our GDP goes into the military and so-called “security” industry. Creating nothing, sucking from society.

        Look at the housing laws in this country where you and I can build houses, get our own company to do an “appraisal” and then get our own mortgage company (which is owned by the building company) to finance the “American dream” to Joe public. There were and are no laws against this in spite of the so-called finance reforms. (This is what fed the collapse of the housing market, and security of hundreds of thousands of Americans.) Not to mention the creating of a phony CDO market backed by nothing.

        Why is this? Because guess who writes the rules?

        Meanwhile, poverty in the US is exploding. And a small group continues to gain wealth in this game. The US is just a bit more sophisticated about the stealing from the public than countries like Egypt.

      • Citizen
        October 5, 2011, 10:45 am

        Chaos, plus congress is cutting foreign aid across the board & attaching more strings to what’s left–with one exception: Israel, the biggest chunk! See relevant article here today on MW.

      • Mooser
        October 5, 2011, 1:45 pm

        Hophmi may not be sure of much in this world, but he is smugly sure that America will never, ever like Arabs as much as they like his brand of Zionist Jew! I mean, it just can’t happen!
        And my Mama told me that rock n’ roll would fade away, too!

      • DBG
        October 5, 2011, 2:18 pm

        Following 9/11 he is unfortunately probably on to something Mooser.

      • Chaos4700
        October 5, 2011, 8:45 pm

        Oh? And what is he onto? That the Arab world should be blamed, in its entirety, for 9/11?

    • Cliff
      October 4, 2011, 2:10 pm

      The point of the article is the inspiration.

      No, we do not need to wait until Egypt is a fully-fledged democracy devoid of it’s present problems and problems that have plagued other Arab nations.

      You once again demonstrate your racism towards Arabs.

      • hophmi
        October 4, 2011, 6:41 pm

        “You once again demonstrate your racism towards Arabs.”

        ROTFLMAO. You’re a joke. A bad one.

      • Chaos4700
        October 5, 2011, 8:39 am

        Find those nukes you were looking for in Iraq yet?

    • lysias
      October 4, 2011, 2:28 pm

      Nobody important will buy into a protest that equates Mubarak’s Egypt with the USA.

      An awful lot of New Yorkers seem to be buying into it.

      I guess you’re saying they’re not “important”.

    • Citizen
      October 4, 2011, 5:11 pm

      hophmi, you ignore the obvious intentionally: Murbarak’s Egypt was a regime that placed the highest priority on keeping the status quo elite in power at the expense of the Egyptian St. This macro premise is identical to what the Wall St protest is all about, applied to US domestic politics–# one issue is the rotten financial-monetary system–that’s why the protests went first to Wall St (same as 9/11 attackers); just substitute Main St for Arab St. That “nobody important” will buy into the similarity is to be expected. The question is only how long will they remain “important?”
      Rome was not torn down in a day. Neither was apartheid S Africa. Neither was Jim Crow. The times, they are a-changin’. How many years must a man exist, before they call him a man? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind….

    • Shingo
      October 4, 2011, 8:41 pm

      Nobody important will buy into a protest that equates Mubarak’s Egypt with the USA.

      That’s what Hop keeps saying to himself anyway.

  3. yourstruly
    October 4, 2011, 1:18 pm

    “What do you expect, we’re going to change the whole system in two months?”

    “the people want to bring the regime down”, as per the arab awakening, so whether this takes two months or two years won’t much matter

    • seafoid
      October 4, 2011, 2:22 pm

      In Tahrir they said”the people want the end of the system”


      And the system with The Vampire Squid at the top is far worse than Mubarak’s. Mubarak wasn’t ever on track to destroy the planet like the capitalist system will .

    • lysias
      October 4, 2011, 2:30 pm

      The Egyptian people didn’t change the whole system in two months. They just made a start.

      The Egyptian revolution is still a work in progress, some eight months after it started.

  4. Dan Crowther
    October 4, 2011, 1:44 pm

    I have been at the Occupy Boston protests the last few days and can say that there are forces for “limiting” the “demands” – mainly to financial greivances and the general social welfare of americans – but also a large contingent of people who think that this is just the beginning of an international protest/gathering of the citizenry of the world. I am in the latter group.

    I think that the group wanting to unify the message wants this to be an “american” effort – which takes place in a nationalist context. The other group, I think is cognizant of the fact that globalization has made any independent action by a state almost irrelevant in economic terms, so the call can not just go out to other fellow citizens, but to the whole world.

    This is the beginning of the citizens of the world realizing their power, This is BDS – but a BDS of the institutions that are standing in the way of human progress. The point now is not to make demands, but to call others to join. More and more and more.

    • Citizen
      October 4, 2011, 5:18 pm


    • American
      October 5, 2011, 12:39 am

      “I think that the group wanting to unify the message wants this to be an “american” effort – which takes place in a nationalist context. The other group, I think is cognizant of the fact that globalization has made any independent action by a state almost irrelevant in economic terms, so the call can not just go out to other fellow citizens, but to the whole world”

      I believe it needs to be both…but those in the US should emphasize the US first. Globalization has made WS inseparable from Greece, Ireland, Etc….but most of the financial ‘mistakes in investment” can be traced back the WS USA. The FED today was wetting it’s pants and insisting on a bailout of foreign banks before it hits the US.

  5. munro
    October 4, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Adbusters has been so good on Palestine I wondered how they kept their Whole Foods account. That they’re associated with Occupy WS is an auspicious sign.
    Link to Mondoweiss on Adbusters

  6. yourstruly
    October 4, 2011, 2:09 pm

    ah yes
    at long last
    on the ascending slopes of freedom’s majestic heights
    close to togetherness
    ready for what?
    end of an era?
    a new age?
    where one equals one?

  7. radii
    October 4, 2011, 3:21 pm

    people shouldn’t make too much about the confluence of protests around the world and read a lot of political philosophy and grand ideas into it – these are essentially bread riots: the people are struggling in economies that have little opportunity for them, see a declining living standard and gross wealth-inequality

    … ancillary features are the type of regimes being overthrown or pressured and the local and national politics that are part of the driving force of these protests (to get rid of a despot, to modernize, to cut down corruption) are unique concoctions in each country … the U.S. is protesting corporate despotism (specifically the bank mortgage scandal and bailouts) and government acquiescence to it rather than trying to overthrow a despotic ruler or regime … as is usual with the Left in America and their rallies/protests they can’t seem to distill it down to one subject and stay on message so the institutional media latches on to every dirty hippy that shows up with their esoteric agenda to debase the broader motivation for the movement/protests

    … signs the Occupy Wall Street protesters should be carrying would read “NYPD cops, YOU ARE UNION and have been screwed by the banks too – Why aren’t you marching WITH us?”

    • yourstruly
      October 4, 2011, 3:59 pm

      yes, the sign you suggest is appropriate, but also, TROOPS OUT NOW &

      • Citizen
        October 4, 2011, 5:24 pm

        Time will synthesize the rebellion, which is international, although specific to each target state regime’s make-up. It’s easy to pinpoint a despot Arab regime, harder to do so in US or UK, or Canada because they have a thicker veneer of democracy; in the USA the rule of the two party system and current campaign finance law form part of the hybrid medusa head of soft tyranny always wrapped in the flag, its rotten wood pole gilded over with humanistic rhetoric.

    • Mooser
      October 5, 2011, 1:48 pm

      “NYPD cops, YOU ARE UNION and have been screwed by the banks too – Why aren’t you marching WITH us?”

      Gee, a couple more dollars in your pay-check (financial and job security) vs the feeling you are on the side of the elite and can bust heads with impounity? And can carry a gun? We don’t need no stinkin’ union!

  8. American
    October 5, 2011, 1:04 am

    “The quibbling about signs being “anti-Israel” has nothing to do with fighting the class war and nothing to do with fighting imperialism. It’s about a problem within the American Jewish community. Some section of it feels the libidinal need to embrace a place where it has no intention of living or moving, which was built on stolen land, and which is keeping millions of people encaged for the crime of being born wrong. Is accommodating that mindset an agenda that the most exciting mobilization in almost a decade should even entertain?”

    Totally agree. The oh so sensitive to an occasional anti Israel (=anti semitism to them) trolls of the Occupy Wall Street movement should shut up or stay home. If I were there I would probably be carrying anti WS and anti Israel signs just for the exposure value.

    • Les
      October 5, 2011, 2:00 pm

      People have many facets. On last night’s WBAI’s Out FM program, for and about gays who refer to themselves as queers, there was discussion at the beginning of the program about Occupy Wall Street, including an interview with Matthew somebody who said he was in a group named Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

  9. DBG
    October 5, 2011, 4:59 pm

    Lotion Man, the new face of the Occupy Wall-Street protest:


    • Shingo
      October 5, 2011, 6:22 pm

      Lotion Man, the new face of the Occupy Wall-Street protest:

      What’s your point DBG? That Jews are capable of insutling other Jews?

      • Chaos4700
        October 5, 2011, 8:54 pm

        DBG’s point is, now that the Wall Street protests have a resonance to Arab culture, he utterly despises them.

      • DBG
        October 7, 2011, 12:52 am

        Chaos, they are all white hipsters. I saw one black man in Lotion Man’s video, but other than that, all of the coverage I have seen is of white people.

      • DBG
        October 5, 2011, 9:35 pm

        Lotion Man pretty much illustrates my point perfectly Shingo, no need to add anything.

      • Chaos4700
        October 5, 2011, 11:49 pm

        Watching Zionist American Jews mock the plight of the rest of us is really degrading. You and biorabbi remember that what you say here about your fellow Americans is essentially on permanent record.

      • Citizen
        October 6, 2011, 10:47 am

        Kinda like watching the Jerry Springer wherein Jerry mocks his hapless victims on the stage, who are only too willing to let him, and the audience, usually from the same trailer camps or urban ghettos, cheer Jerry on and diss their cousins who are even more dim, uneducated, and ignorant than they are. Then, each show, Jerry winds it up with a few choice words of abstract humanism, the lesson to be learned for the day.

      • DBG
        October 6, 2011, 2:12 pm

        No, what Danny Cline said is on permanent record, that can’t be lied about or misrepresented Chaos.

        Lotion Man hates blacks and Jews, is that your America Chaos? It sure as hell isn’t mine.

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