Adbusters poster promoting the start of Occupy Wall Street
NEW YORK – In the face of mounting charges of anti-Semitism at Occupy sites nationwide, several so-called Jewish groups have been attempting to spin the protest movement as Jew-friendly and even representative of Jewish ideals.
JFFJ has been widely quoted in the news media in recent weeks portraying the Occupy movement as representing Jewish values.
JFFJ activists reportedly led high-holiday services at New York City, Boston and Los Angeles Occupy sites, including prayers for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The group helped erect sukkot, or customary temporary booths, at Occupy sites during the Feast of Tabernacles.
An article in the San Francisco Sentinel, titled “Occupy Wall Street Movement brings Jewish ethos to demonstrations,” quoted Regina Weiss, JFFJ’s communications director, stating of the movement: “For many of us, social justice is where we find our Judaism.”
“For many there is no more important way to stand up and express Judaism on the holiest night of the year than to stand with people who are hurting and to stand up for greater equality in the country,” Weiss said of Occupy’s Yom Kippur services.
Elissa Barrett, chief of regional operations for the JFFJ and its partner, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, explained how a sukkah espouses Occupy ideals.
“I think of a sukkah as a structure that’s full of vulnerability,” Barrett said in a widely circulated article published by a Jewish syndication service. “It forces us to look at what’s happening in the world around us.”
Aryeh Cohen, a JFFJ board member who serves as associate professor of rabbinic literature at the American Jewish University, wrote an opinion piece for the Soros-funded Center for American Progress glorifying the anti-Wall Street protests while arguing the movement expresses Torah values.
“The just society that emerges from a reading of the classic canon of Rabbinic literature, is what I call a ‘community of obligation.’ Residency in a city is determined by the assumptions of the obligations of the city,” Cohen wrote at Think Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress.
“So for now, my humble shout out to the holy community in Liberty Square, New York, hoist a sign for me which reads: So follow the way of the good, And keep to the paths of the just,” Cohen wrote.
Just last week, a coalition of 15 progressive Jewish activists, former politicians and union leaders released a statement denouncing opponents of Occupy Wall Street for accusing the movement of anti-Semitism.
“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,” the statement said.
The letter was signed by Jeremy Ben Ami, founder of the Soros-funded J Street; former SEIU President Andy Stern; and Hadar Susskin, vice president of the Soros-funded Tides Center.
The groups have deep ties to the Occupy movement.
As WND was first to report, the tactic of blocking bridges, already used by Occupy Wall Street to hold up traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge last month, was institutionalized by Stephen Lerner, a controversial anti-capitalist SEIU organizer. The Tides Center, meanwhile, funds Adbusters magazine, which is reported to have come up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after “Arab Spring” protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
The Tides Center’s marketing partner is Fenton Communication, which reportedly represented Occupy’s march past millionaires’ homes last month. J Street’s Ben Ami formerly worked for Fenton.
‘Extreme anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments’
Videos of anti-Semitic sentiment at nationwide Occupy sites have gone viral on the Internet while protesters have been quoted blaming Jews for corruption on Wall Street. The movement, however, argues this sentiment is fringe and does not represent Occupy ideology.
In one video, released by the Emergency Committee for Israel, demonstrators were on caught film stating, “Jews control Wall Street” and “You can’t even speak English? You Israeli? Go back to Israel.”
The libertarian blog Reason TV posted a clip of a protester at Occupy Los Angeles stating, “I think the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve … need to be run out of this country.”
Scores of other images have been circulated on YouTube.
The sentiment prompted the Republican National Committee to attack Democrats last month for failing to speak out against what RNC communications director Sean Spicer characterized as “extreme anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments” reported at the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Spicer blasted top Democrats for voicing their support for the demonstrations even as some of the protesters, he claimed, made “anti-Semitic, anti-Israel comments.”
Still, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement, saying, “There is no evidence that these incidents are widespread.”
The ADL noted “anti-Semitism has not gained traction more broadly with the protestors, nor is it representative of the larger movement at this time.”
JFJ, meanwhile, is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute.
In 2009, Open Society provided a $150,000 grant to the JFJ and its associated group, the Funder’s Collaborative on Youth Organizing.
Last year, Open Society provided a $200,000 grant to last a period of two years. Now it has emerged that the group is led by an assortment of radicals.
JFJ was founded by Si Khan, who serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which seeks to aid the children of parents the group deems “targeted, progressive activists.”
“We also assist youth who themselves have been targeted as a result of their progressive activities.”
The group was founded by Robert Meeropol, whose parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were accused of passing crucial nuclear secrets to the Soviets and executed in 1953.
JFJ board member Amy Dean, meanwhile, has keynoted a Communist Party event and was involved with a U.S. socialist party.
She keynoted the Chicago Communist Party USA’s 22nd Annual People’s World Banquet, which took place last December at a local restaurant. At the event, CPUSA labor secretary Scott Marshall deemed Dean’s work visionary and innovative.
Dean reportedly used the address to call for “much more” to be done “to build up the movement to ensure the Obama agenda and progressive change is advanced in Congress.”
In November, Dean keynoted the seventh annual Working Class Media & Democracy Forum in St. Louis, which the New Zeal blog reports was arranged by Communist Party member Tony Pecinovsky.
Dean also was involved with the New Party, a controversial 1990s political party that sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.
WND previously reported on evidence from the party’s own newsletter listing President Obama a member of the New Party.
Also, Marxist activist Carl Davidson recalled in a WND interview that Obama participated in the New Party. He affirmed that Obama’s views overlapped with those of his party.
JFJ board member Janice Fine was also New Party leader and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, another socialist group.
JFJ board member Donna Katzin is a former activist with the Cuba Resource Center.
New Zeal reported she is a donor to the Oakland, Calif.-based Data Center, which itself has close ties to Cuba.
JFJ’s president and CEO, Simon Greer, previously worked as a labor and community organizer and social change leader for 15 years.
Greer recently wrote that he has had the “privilege of getting to know George Soros. During our conversations, he made it clear that his experience surviving the Holocaust seared a simple but profound truth in his brain.”
WND reported JFJ runs a Selah Leadership Program, which provides community organizing training to local leaders. As of mid-2007, more than 200 leaders from 165 organizations had gone through the program.
Past participants include Heather Booth, founder of the radical Midwest Academy, which teaches the tactics of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky.
WND was first to report that the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit on which Barack Obama served as paid director alongside Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, provided money to Midwest Academy.
WND also broke the story that the executive director of Midwest Academy was part of the team that developed and delivered a group of volunteers for Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Another past participant in JFJ’s training program is Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor.