Just as some liberal critics of the Tea Party labeled it a broadly racist movement, right-wing critics of Occupy Wall Street are tarring it with charges of anti-Semitism. It's how politics works apparently. Unfortunately, some of the main personalities trying to tar OWS with anti-Semtism have a history of abusing the anti-Semitism charge and have been looking for excuses to attack the group from day one.
On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee issued a statement assailing Democratic leaders for expressing support for the movement. "Democratic leaders have spent the last week championing the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement," wrote RNC communications director Sean Spicer, "yet in the midst of protestors’ extreme anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments, they’ve been silent." The memo follows a slow drumbeat by right-wing pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Commentary's Abe Greenwald, Powerline's John Hinderaker and Glenn Beck's website The Blaze to smear the movement as hateful and intolerant to Jewish people. The ammunition bolstering these claims largely comes from a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel, which is led by neocon Bill Kristol and evangelical politician Gary Bauer, as Jillian Rayfield at Talking Points Memo reported. The group's most successful piece of publicity stems from this web video it uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 13:
The video compiles a number of fleeting moments captured by Glenn Beck's website The Blaze earlier in the month. Indeed, in the crowds estimated to be between 5,000 and 15,000 strong, they manage to find a couple demonstrators who say some truly hateful things. The video shows a sign telling OWS protesters to Google "Wall St. Jews," "Jewish Billionaires" and "Jews & FedResrvBank" and documents a young man harassing someone who appears to be Jewish telling him to "go back to Israel."
It's nice of Glenn Beck, Abe Greenwald and Rush Limbaugh to be so considerate of the Jewish people. Surely they're only acting out of genuine concern. Oh wait. They've been attacking Occupy Wall Street since the very beginning? All month, Limbaugh's been referring to Occupy Wall Street as a "construct of the media Democrat industrial complex." On October 4, Abe Greenwald called the protesters "state-worshipping police haters." On October 10, Glenn Beck called the demonstrators "Marxist radicals...these guys are worse than Robespierre from the French Revolution...they'll kill everybody." In context, the anti-Semite charge is just the latest volley. As for abusing the anti-Semite charge, Limbaugh has a fine history of that. In 2009, he summed up Obama's speech in Cairo as "The Israelis, the Jews, they stink." Glenn Beck has a history of criticizing anyone who's critical of Israel as "socialists."
Interestingly, you might think all of an effort to smear the Occupy Wall Street movement as anti-Semitic might grab the attention of the Anti-Defamation League. While the group has spoken out against the anti-Semitic protesters featured in the video, they've been much more nuanced in their statements. "There is no evidence that these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants," the group said in a statement Monday. If these right-wing pundits aren't even able to get the ADL on-board, a group that is highly sensitive to attacks against Judaism, they'll have to find a lot more anti-Semitic protesters.