the national interest

Anti-Semites! With Signs!

When writing about the Occupy Wall Street protests, Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin complains, “virtually nothing has been said about its anti-Semitic elements.” And yes, virtually nothing has been said! Unless you count David Brooks. Or Fox News. Or The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Or Rush Limbaugh, the Weekly Standard, the Daily Caller, Commentary, Karl Rove, National Review Online, Newsmax, Reason, and too many blogs to name.

So, wait, let’s revise that. Everything has been said about anti-Semites at Occupy Wall Street. The ratio of outraged published reports or commentaries about anti-Semites at OWS to actual anti-Semites at OWS is probably about ten to one. This video by the Republican group “Emergency Committee for Israel” tries to portray the movement as anti-Semitic by bringing a video camera to the rally and filming four people holding up anti-Semitic signs or saying something anti-Semitic. One of them is featured twice:

Rubin calls the ad “eye-popping.” We have found the conservative pundit equivalent of Peter Travers.

My eyeballs remain firmly in their sockets. Anti-Semites are, fortunately, excluded from most respectable channels of public discourse. They tend to lean heavily on the hand-lettered-sign mode of communication. You can find anti-Semites descending on almost any public gathering of disgruntled people, including tea party rallies. (I suppose the exception would be explicitly Jewish or pro-Israel rallies.) It doesn’t really tell you much about the relationship of anti-Semitism to the core principles of a protest movement. To the extent that the movement has produced any coherent statements of principle, even the craziest ones contain no traces of anti-Semitism.

Michelle Goldberg has some smart thoughts on the persistence of small numbers of anti-Semites at these rallies and why the movement can’t seem to stop them.

Anti-Semites! With Signs!