In the Standard post, a dark video shows a handful of protesters apparently in Lower Manhattan at the site of Occupy Wall Street spouting 9/11 truther conspiracy theories and, in two cases, expressing anti-Semitic sentiments. The post was promoted by the hedge-fund bankrolled, Bill Kristol-led Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI). It was ECI that initially set off a feeding frenzy of right-wing blogs with an ad released on the Internet showing three people expressing anti-Semitism but suggesting the sentiment was pervasive at 99 Percent protests. Absurd accusations followed, like one blog’s contention that the Twitter “hashtag” symbol was a stand-in for a Swastika.
Now, though, a group of eminent Jewish-Americans are pushing back against the smears. In a release today, 15 leaders from the community are putting their foot down against the likes of Kristol and his lackeys at ECI and the Standard:
We are publicly engaged American Jews who support both Israel and the ideas behind Occupy Wall Street and who also strongly oppose right-wing attempts to smear that movement with false charges of anti-Semitism.
It’s an old, discredited tactic: find a couple of unrepresentative people in a large movement and then conflate the oddity with the cause. One black swan means that all swans are black…
All of us irrespective of party or position should expose and denounce anti-Semitism where ever it occurs, but not tar hundreds of thousands of protestors nationwide because a handful of hateful people show up with offensive signs that can’t be taken down in a public park open to all.
The signatory list included a few rabbis, progressive Jewish group leader Jeremy Ben Ami, former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer (who was targeted in the ECI ad), union leader Randi Weingarten, and others.
Picking up a push-back on the smear last week from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, the signatories cited the anti-Semitism watchdog Anti-Defamation League (ADL), commenting that there’s no evidence that the views outlined by the right “are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants.”
Both the signatories and the ADL are right: In a survey of the evidence right-wing pressure groups and blogs give against the 99 Percent, there are only a handful — perhaps as many as eight — total protesters who have been documented expressing anti-Semitism, yet videos and photos of them are perpetually re-circulated. That’s perhaps eight out of hundreds of thousands that have taken to the streets and shown support for the 99 Percent.