OWS and rallying against antisemitic violence in Brooklyn

A guest post by P. Naberrie

There was an antisemitic arson attack in Midwood, Brooklyn a few days ago, with three cars torched to the ground and swastika/SS and KKK graffiti on surrounding benches, right in the middle of an Orthodox neighbourhood. A “Daily News” article the following day quoted a local resident tying the attacks to OWS, because of the antisemitic signs that could be observed there.

The OWS General Assembly agreed upon following statement against antisemitism on the 12th
and called for people to go down to a community rally today.

When I came down there it was mostly around 70 Orthodox/visibly religious Jews from the neighbourhood, lots of media, one Israeli flag, and some speeches by local politicians and NY state senator Eric Adams (focusing on a general “hate is bad” line), some attempts at Black-Jewish joint  efforts against AS and racism, and then ending in a law-and-order tone stressing the need to track down the perpetrators and lock them up. One person held a sign saying “Orthodox Jews welcome OWS”, and got verbally attacked by somebody else, who said he didn’t want to have anything to do with antisemitic OWS.

After an hour or so around 30 people from OWS came down and joined the little march, handing out the flyer above and talking to people. There was a bit of interaction here and there, until 3 folks from Neturei Karta showed up with a sign saying “Judaism is not Zionism” and a swastika=Star of David drawing. They shouted fairly loudly, until one of them got beaten up and thrown to the floor. The attacker – apparently some Jewish man – got stopped or even arrested by the police, the Neturei Karta people got walked away.

So – one could argue that OWS has only come up with this kind of rally support because they have been under attack from the media/the right and want to get their public image straight. Most likely, without these attacks OWS would not have called for this kind of action (which wouldn’t be a sign of worry in itself – OWS endorses mostly stuff having to do with economic inequality, and sometimes police brutality, but not necessarily issues beyond that). Nevertheless, it seems to me from talking to people who came down there that there was a genuine concern about the arson attacks, and about making clear that antisemitism is not accepted. Also, no weird mixing-in of Israel-Palestine issues at all.

Apparently, the General Assembly made a pretty clear decision about this statement as well. To me, this just strengthens my perspective that antisemitism is not really an issue among the large part of the OWS crowd – at least not in any kind of open form, as the right would want to suggest. But I’d be curious to hear if other people have a different experience or analysis.

Additional links

Further reports of the rally: here and here

This article points to the fact that the message of “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine”, i.e. pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel messages are increasingly taken up by the OWS movement in the US: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/82757/the-problem-with-ows%E2%80%99-palestine-association/#

Some recent examples include: Occupy Boston occupies Israeli consulate: http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/05/362073/occupy-boston-occupies-israeli-consulate/

Mondoweiss blog linking the crackdown on Occupy Oakland and Palestine: http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/81640/is-oakland-palestine/

And the interruption of a “Birthright” event by folks related to “Young, Jewish and Proud”, youth group associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, that is using the rhetoric and methods (human microphone…) of OWS: http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/why-we-occupy-wall-street-not-palestine.html

This entry was posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 8:35 pm and is filed under Capitalism/anti-Capitalism, Occupy Movement, U.S., anti-zionism, social movements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. My synagogue had swastikas painted on it two years ago on Yom Kippur night. There were 8 other incidents in Edison N.J. No one has of yet been caught. Tell the A.D.L. that the swastika is a symbol of hate against Jews and not a general symbol of hate. Order JUDGES to stop telling juvenile offenders to write a holocaust essay and do community service. Throw the book at them and make them serve real jail time. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg



  2. I think the incidents in the main body of the article maybe to do with this widely reported arrest of a Jewish guy for various antisemitic actions in New York: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/01/17/3091211/ny-jewish-man-nabbed-for-anti-semitic-attacks

    N.Y. Jewish man nabbed for anti-Semitic attacks
    January 17, 2012

    (JTA) — A Jewish man from Manhattan was arrested for making anti-Semitic phone calls to his mother and other women, and is suspected of painting anti-Semitic graffiti in Brooklyn.

    David Haddad, 56, was arrested Sunday for making the calls, including one on Dec. 11 to his mother in which he said that “All Jews should die and go to hell.”

    Haddad also is suspected of paining swastikas on apartment doors earlier this month, as well as a graffiti attack in the Midwood neighborhood over the weekend.

    He reportedly knew nearly all of the victims, some of whom were his relatives, according to The New York Times. He reportedly was in a business dispute with his family, which may be the reason for the attacks.

    Haddad, who police say is Jewish, was charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime.



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