Activists from Adalah-NY attended the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York’s Zuccotti Park on Sunday to deliver a statement of solidarity issued by Palestine’s BDS National Committee (BNC). The statement, originally issued on October 13th, praises the work of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and draws parallels between their respective struggles against those who profit from “wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment”.
Adalah-NY explains that, despite claims by some to the contrary, Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is indeed a domestic issue for Americans. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, currently totaling an approximate $3 billion annually: more than double the amount lost by U.S. taxpayers in the 2009 bailout of Chrysler. As taxpayers, U.S. citizens are complicit not only in the siphoning away of these funds from vitally needed social services, but in their allocation to help maintain Israel’s apartheid policies and deliberate attacks on civilian populations.
Despite this, some elements within Occupy Wall Street, particularly in New York City, have expressed hostility toward any discussion of this issue within the movement. When a tweet was posted from the official Occupy Wall Street Twitter account expressing support for nonviolent activists aboard the humanitarian aid flotilla then en route to Gaza on November 3rd, it was deleted almost immediately. New York-based activist Daniel Sieradski told Tablet Magazine that he had “raised concerns” about the tweet, telling them that that ramifications of the tweet “would likely be severe”.
Sieradski was heavily criticized for his role in the tweet’s deletion, and for his public opposition to the support shown for Palestinian rights by Occupy Wall Street activists in other cities. In an effort to defend himself against charges of anti-Palestinian bias, Sieradski posted a blog entry in which he suggested that he was being criticized because he “doesn’t think Israel is obligated to commit demographic suicide by reabsorbing Palestinian refugees”.
Use of the phrase “demographic suicide” to describe calls for Israel to allow the return of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes and lands in 1947-1948 was first popularized by far-right commentator Charles Krauthammer, with an October 20, 2000 article entitled “Arafat’s Strategy”. The term has also been widely used to describe calls for non-Jewish citizens of Israel, including Palestinians, to be granted equal rights.
Left or right?
Employing the argument of a far-right figure such as Krauthammer may seem an odd choice for an Occupy Wall Street activist who constantly trumpets his progressive credentials, but Sieradski has long been a study in contradictions. Despite a steady barrage of statements such as “I believe strongly in the need for a Jewish state and Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel”, Sieradski claims to be an anarchist.
Anarchism, which opposes all forms of hierarchy and domination, is known for consistently rejecting the very concept of the state as the best unit by which to organize societies.
Also unusual for an anarchist is Sieradski’s relationship with arch-conservative William Daroff, chief lobbyist of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Daroff, who previously worked on presidential campaigns for Republicans Jack Kemp, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole, now helps to oversee the Israel Action Network, the JFNA’s $6 million initative to combat “delegitimization” of Israel. Much of the body’s focus is on thwarting efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law through boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. In March, Sieradski posted a photo of himself posing with Daroff to his Flickr account, captioned “chillin’ with billy d”.
Sieradski has also provided professional services to groups whose core mission is to influence public opinion in support of the Israeli state by whitewashing its crimes against Palestinians. His LinkedIn profile notes his work with Israel21c, a hasbara organization which “redefines the conversation about Israel” by diverting media and public attention away from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and instead toward it’s “vibrant diversity, humanity, creativity, innovative spirit, and responsiveness”. The organization, which has also “trained more than 1,500 Israel activists in seven US cities,” is currently headed by former AIPAC President Amy Friedkin.
It should be no surprise that an “anarchist” who not only supports the concept of states, but believes “strongly” in the “need” for an ethnocratic state, in which the domination of one ethnic group over another is enshrined in law, sees no problem in aligning himself with far-right individuals and institutions when its suits his purposes.
UPDATE: 6:30 am ET
Shortly after 1:00 am ET, New York City police raided the Occupy Wall Street camp at Zuccotti Park. Over 70 people are said to have been arrested, and many of them beaten. Members of the press, reportedly being blocked from the area by police, have reported that bulldozers were seen moving toward the camp.
The statement of solidarity from Palestinian civil society could apparently not have been more timely.