Why we Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine

  Liza Behrendt leads the mic check as “occupy the occupiers” disrupts venture capitalist Steven Pease’s Presentation on his book “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement.” (IMAGE: video Still)

The virtual ink was barely dry on our “Occupy the Occupiers” declaration when Marc Tracy weighed in on Tablet’s Scroll blog. At the end of an article where he defends Occupy Wall Street (OWS) from charges of Anti-Semitism, he gets to our declaration and reverses course. Suddenly he displays nothing but defensiveness regarding the Jewish institutions that repress the very sentiment of dissent that OWS expresses.

First of all, we are not violating the “no demands” ethos of OWS by calling for more democracy in our community. The declaration is our own and we will not be submitting it to a General Assembly. We can think of no better tribute to the OWS movement than to heed its call and occupy our own institutions. As Jews who have been allies and a part of OWS, we were inspired to issue our own call for accountability and power redistribution within the Jewish community. As organizers, we have been inspired by efforts to translate the OWS movement into culturally specific contexts, such as Occupy the Hood, which has mobilized around “Stop and Frisk” and other policies affecting communities of color.

This movement’s power lies in its broad appeal to anyone oppressed by the economic status quo. OWS is about much more than banks, and the economy doesn’t stop at U.S. borders. We honor the OWS message by casting light on and holding our community accountable to a substantial economic problem: the occupation of Palestine yields huge profits for American corporations and has absorbed over 33 billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The Jewish institutions that we “occupy” are engaged in the active silencing of those who care about these economic implications, particularly those looking to discuss economic activism in the form of boycott, divestment, and sanctions targetting Israel’s occupation. To answer Tracy’s question, Hillel leads this silencing on college campuses: see the Brandeis Hillel’s exclusion of Jewish Voice for Peace this Spring.  Coauthor Liza Behrendt was part of this student chapter that wanted nothing more than to join the center of Jewish life on campus, but failed the litmus test for Israel loyalty.

As for the Federations, our point is not that 99% of Jews oppose having a Federation, or even the occupation. It is that the leadership and the funders promote a narrow agenda, on many issues besides Israel and Palestine.  The Forward’s J.J. Goldberg has extensively researched how power dynamics in the Jewish community restrict organizational agendas across the political spectrum.

And was it unnecessary to occupy a small Birthright event? Only if you are fine with ongoing corporate domination of our community. Tracy fails to mention that the event was part of a “Wall Street” series in which various 1%-ers hold forth to Jews our age, further dominating the agenda. It was so necessary, in fact, that here’s betting you will see more of it. And when you do, it will hardly drown out the message of Occupy Wall Street, which last we checked is doing just fine. It will only make it bigger and stronger.

To learn more about Young, Jewish, and Proud and Occupy the Occupiers visit their website here.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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22 Responses

  1. dumvitaestspesest
    November 12, 2011, 9:25 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, since I’m quite ignorant in the subject of “Birthright “, but it looks like the main agenda of this “organization” is to instill the idea of “choseness of our nation/people above all”.
    WE are the highest achievers, the “chosen” dudes , even by God, ( and who is going to argue with God, who?).
    All other people are just jealous of us, and secretly want our gloom and doom. But we are stronger than that. We are supported by very rich fellows ,who are the living proof that “yes, we can”.

    • Bumblebye
      November 12, 2011, 9:57 am

      Bet they haven’t got a ‘Young Master’ like this:

      Only 9 and he’s made enough to buy his family a home!

      • dumvitaestspesest
        November 12, 2011, 10:20 am

        Very impressive. Those super gifted kids always amaze me.
        And I’m such a un/dis-talented creature:).
        Here is another, extra ordinary talented youngster.

      • Bumblebye
        November 12, 2011, 10:28 am

        I haven’t got an ounce of any kind of talent. ;-(

    • Charon
      November 12, 2011, 12:54 pm

      I’m sure that’s part of it. For the most part birthrate encourages ‘aliyah’ for young Jews by sponsoring tours that show an artificial view of Israel that completely ignores the occupation. They are subjected to some clever Zionist brainwashing and encouraged to move there and make a lot of babies in order to keep a Jewish majority. A futile effort. Even if the status quo lasted for a century (and I doubt it will last the next decade) the Zionist Jews would become a minority in their own country. I’m sure they would pass some laws to make Arabs into 3rd class citizens, but it wouldn’t last. Israel is on a course for failure every single way you look at it. Hasbarists can laugh all they want, the Palestinians will be having the last laugh.

  2. MRW
    November 12, 2011, 9:30 am

    Every single American reader of this blog, watch this:

    Robert Sheer’s talk on the same site is great, too.

    • annie
      November 12, 2011, 12:22 pm

      thanks mrw, i watched the whole thing. recommended!

    • Kathleen
      November 13, 2011, 7:35 pm

      Black “We can prosecute these frauds. The Federal Housing Finance Administration has just filed complaints saying 17 of the largest banks in America committed massive fraud. Endemic fraud.. And that there is a paper trail proving that they did so.”

      “Where is the Justice Dept?”

      “Why is is not inditing these frauds?”

  3. dumvitaestspesest
    November 12, 2011, 9:47 am

    “the occupation of Palestine yields huge profits for American corporations and has absorbed over 33 BILLION dollars in U.S. TAXPAYER dollars.”
    That’s the part that should sink in people’s mind.
    Billions and billions of green paper goes every year to support illegal occupation of Palestine by the “friend/ally” of the USA , Israel.
    Can we find the better use for those billions of $$$ .
    I bet we can.

  4. Kris
    November 12, 2011, 12:05 pm

    To watch the “Occupy the Occupiers” action to which this article refers, you can click on “video” under the photo at the top of the article. But just in case there are other readers like me who didn’t notice that link immediately, click on the link here:


    This video is delightful! Beautiful young people, entertaining action, uplifting in every way.

  5. annie
    November 12, 2011, 12:49 pm

    this was an excellent action and i absolutely appreciate the followup post. i followed all the links and the links on the links (jj goldberg http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2009/05/20/jj-goldberg-on-jewish-power-again/ , interesting ). there’s so much i don’t know. so often i open a page of this community there’s so much there i never connected. it seems to go on and on. something marc tracy said i found a little odd:

    the organized hard-left is taking it in that direction because of its preconceived beliefs about the Mideast. To suggest the turn is connected to a protest against bankers—……. is fundamentally anti-Semitic

    isn’t there some disconnect there? some leap in logic? how does connecting policies towards the middle east to bankers make it anti semitic? just like mrw’s post up there all the checks and balances and regulators that should be applied just aren’t. it’s the same set up of congress rolling over and people not doing their jobs. the promotion of the failed ones (like ross or in William K Black’s example the criminal becoming the ambassador to the netherlands, i have no idea if he was jewish..black didn’t say but why would it be important if the point is the ‘protection’ and promotion of the criminal)? the buying of washington? it’s the same thing. how is that anti semitic to say that anymore than it is anti semitic for OWS to target bankers?


    last night i was reading a news report about the northwestern action/walkout (i think it was northwestern). all these actions are making waves.

    • jayn0t
      November 13, 2011, 12:17 pm

      “To suggest the turn is connected to a protest against bankers… is fundamentally anti-Semitic” is not as illogical as it appears. What Goldberg is saying is, “why would a movement against bankers make a ‘turn’ against Israel?”. What do bankers and Israel have in common? Well, nothing, unless you think bankers are disproportionately Jewish. In that case, what the two have in common is Jews. So the only reason a movement against one would turn against the other is anti-semitism.

      I am of course crediting the guy’s logic, not his politics.

  6. yourstruly
    November 12, 2011, 1:10 pm

    simply amazing

    who woulda thunk it?

    a heroic tunisian fruit peddler

    those eighteen magical days in tahrir square

    europe on fire

    and now here in the good ol u. s. of a.

    wherever the 1% oppresses the 99%

    the key to turning things around?

    how else to look upon “holding our community accountable to a substantial economic problem, the occupation of palestine?”

    together with “make no demands?”

    so that at just the right moment


    wherever the 1% oppress the 99%

    straight to the heart of the matter

    the palestine/israel conflict?

    that the underlying problem isn’t this or that person or institution

    what then?

    the lack of democracy within the jewish community

    & that sound?

    democracy, reemerging within the jewish community

    based on?

    leaderlessness with everyone a leader

    • yourstruly
      November 12, 2011, 1:24 pm

      mohamed bouazizi was a street vender rather than fruit peddler

      • yourstruly
        November 12, 2011, 1:48 pm

        what’s both infuriating & confounding the 1% is the lack of go-to leaders, someone who msm can go-to who can speak for the occupy movement(s), hear its demands. there being no demands, of course, because the key to the occupy movement’s success & growth seems to be it’s unique ability (utilizing the leaderless yet everyone a leader approach) to keep the 1%ers’ noses in the doo-doo (of their own making) for however much time it takes for them to say “no mas, no mas.”

    • yourstruly
      November 12, 2011, 2:11 pm

      another key insight, compliments of jyp organizers*

      “translate the ows movement into culturally specific contexts”

      *frelimo (front for the liberation of mozambique) based there organizational structure on the concept of the “dynamizer”, s/he being that one person in a group of, say a dozen, who somehow has it in her/him-self to step forward & take the lead

      • yourstruly
        November 12, 2011, 5:13 pm

        re: a meeting of the truth and reconciliation commission

        israel-firster section

        the meeting is called to order, with abraham foxman the initial jewish israel-firster to appear

        “mr. foxman, what would you have done differently, had you not bought into jewish colonialism uber palestinian rights?”

        “sought permission from the indigenous people of palestine to immigrate to their land.”

        “as supremacists?

        “no, as equals.”

        “& if the palestinians had said no?

        “no it would have been.”

        “what should jewish israel-firsters have pursued instead of conquering an indigenous people?

        “joining the worldwise struggle against naziism”

  7. Whizdom
    November 12, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Counting Jews? According to DKos that’s a sure sign of rampant anti loathing self semitism, no?

    Except when it isn’t, and only they know the difference

    For a self proclaimed ethnic minority/population group that is under constant persecution from systemic, engrained mindless racism, imagine what their metrics would be in a anti-semitism free zone?

  8. Taxi
    November 12, 2011, 3:41 pm

    All you ‘Occupy’ guys out there objecting to the clear links between American wars overseas and Wall Street:
    Why don’t you go ahead and turn that 99 upside down and call yerselves the 66%.

    Cuz that’s the metaphoric statistic for America’s dumb, deluded and racist.

    Shut up with your ‘non-linkage’ – enough already with your pathetic anti-shmanti every time the name ‘Palestine’ is mentioned!

    Who are you kidding?! You are no true blooded revolutionaries. You stink of bourgeoisie garlic and I’m beginning to think you guys are paid by corporations to hang around the Occupy scenes just so you can, well, defend YOUR kinda streamlined fascism.


    Reckon these guys here have a special way of s’plaining ‘connectedness’:

    • yourstruly
      November 12, 2011, 5:31 pm

      all dem bones gonna get connected including but not limited to justice for palestine

      one can count on it

    • dumvitaestspesest
      November 12, 2011, 9:16 pm

      Also, “nihil,nihil,nihil novi sub sole”, ( there’s nothing, nothing, nothing new under the sun).
      “When dissidents become too annoying, CALL them fascists, Nazis or
      anti-Semites. This view, REPEATED often enough, will become a REALITY in public opinion” –
      Stalin’s directive, 1943.

  9. jayn0t
    November 13, 2011, 12:35 pm

    “OWS is about much more than banks, and the economy doesn’t stop at U.S. borders. We honor the OWS message by casting light on and holding our community accountable to a substantial economic problem: the occupation of Palestine yields huge profits for American corporations and has absorbed over 33 billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars” says this article.

    As usual, the left is good on feelings, not so good on logic. Opposing Zionism doesn’t follow from opposing ‘corporations’. The fact that groveling to Israel yields profits proves nothing. ANY policy would yield profits for corporations. Support for Israel, Iran, both or neither would all be profitable. Corporations are like that. The only way you can distinguish between the profitability of political policies is by finding out how good they are for capitalism as a whole. “33 billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars” is the key point. Corporations and rich people pay huge taxes, and Zionism is a waste of money from their point of view.

    America’s support from Israel doesn’t follow from banking, or corporate greed, or whatever other inadequate critique of capitalism the Occupy movement currently holds. It is to do with ethnic power. 150 years ago, the US lived under ‘white privilege’. But the average white person had more chance of dying on one or other side of a war in which they had no interest. In a way, the picture at the top says more than the article itself.

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