Activism and BDS Beat 14 November 2011
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.
Does Sieradski rightfully belong in #Occupy?
Permalink Gaelic Neilson replied on
#OWS should consider to oust Sieradski
Permalink Steve replied on
Permalink johnjohn replied on
so its my understanding that a PalSol activist sent this tweet out without it being approved by the GA - ie that they acted in a completely anti-democratic manner in doing so. or do you think that PalSol activists have the right to take over other activists' projects and platforms and use them to promote their own causes without the approval of those activists?
Permalink sarah replied on
oh come on. sieradski is a rock solid lefty and consistent anti-occupation activist who is a thorn in the side of the hasbara crowd. isn't it great, or even just human, that people can disagree sharply about politics and still get along enough to hang on in a flickr photo? radical, i know.
ad hominem attacks are a lame substitute for serious policy and strategic debate.
“Consistent” is not a word I
Permalink Abraham Greenhouse replied on
“Consistent” is not a word I’d use to describe a self-proclaimed anarchist who heartily endorses any state, ethnocratic or otherwise.
anarchism and states
Permalink johnjohn replied on
unfortunately for daniel - or anyone else - having a Two State or One State solution is a Statist solution either way. anarchist revolution in historic palestine is (unfortunately for everyone involved) not on anyone's agenda. Binationalists are simply no less statist. so, as an anarchist, i think this criticism of him is totally invalid.
This is not so fair...
Permalink Uri Gordon replied on
I don't know about the twitter incident mentioned, but from my personal acquaintance with Dan Sieradski I can attest that he has consistently opposed the occupation and participated in Palestine soliarity activities. Dan has taken a strategic decision to work within Jewish organizations in the US and promote the cause of human rights and Palestinian independence in the American Jewish community - a difficult task, but an important one given the US government's role in maintaining the occupation. As a result of this positioning he may not always be able to express the most militant and uncompromising line possible, but he remains a committed ally of the Palestinian and Jewish peoples and strives for a Middle East without borders and social classes.
Permalink Abraham Greenhouse replied on
Uri, I respectfully disagree. Striving for “a Middle East without borders and social classes” seems to me to be incompatible with a “strong belief” in “the need for a Jewish state and Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel”. I’m not saying that Sieradski himself sees any such contradiction, nor am I questioning the general support for (at least some) Palestinian rights that he has intermittently expressed. I’m simply pointing out a lack of consistency between various positions he’s taken.
Thank you Uri. That is my
Permalink Charles replied on
Thank you Uri. That is my experience of him as well. This article does a lot of cherry picking and guilt by association. Dan is interesting, a character, and always evolving. He is not a hasbarist.
This is hilarious.
Permalink adam replied on
If you seriously think Sieradski is a Hasbara tool, you should get your head checked. He's engaged in public debate with Daroff. That doesn't mean he won't be civil.
By the way, I thought those dedicated to the Palestinian national cause want to "End the #Occupation." Ironic. Get your analogies straight.
I have been photographed with
Permalink Dave replied on
I have been photographed with Daniel Sieradski on multiple occasions. I suppose this means I have to reconsider what my politics are as a result of this.
Permalink Laffer replied on
This post was hilarious.
Opposing aid to Israel = also Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the PA
Permalink Kung Fu Jew 18 replied on
Sieradski has nearly lost his job numerous times for his outspoken anti-occupation views. This is the kind of shoddy conclusion that only Google warriors could reach.
Are you people serious? Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority combined receive more US foreign aid than Israel. Are you seriously suggesting allying with Congressional Republicans who want to end all American aid to every country? If you're going to make a fiscal argument (versus a moral argument) against foreign aid to certain countries, be prepared to walk that idea all the way through.
anarchists and solidarity work
Permalink Mark Lance replied on
First, despite many years working within various anarchist and Palsolidarity organizations, I don't know this guy at all. But a few thoughts:
I don't really find the inconsistency in working for a Palestinian state and anarchism. Sure, we anarchists don't want society to be organized around states, but we also have to live in the now, and contribute to projects that make people's lives better in the short-run. (I once called the cops on a neighbor who was beating his girlfriend, feeling that she was in imminent danger and that there was no other option. That doesn't mean I "support the cops".)
That said, to endorse an ethnically dominated or exclusive state - not to mention endorsing the racist trope of "demographic suicide" is beyond the pale. It is to endorse a wildly reactionary form of statehood. And to reject the right of return is not to be in solidarity with Palestinians. Period. It is like supporting nicer "homelands" in South Africa, or REALLY separate but equal schools in Jim Crow US. And if he is indeed in bed with Israel21c, he is working with Zionist exclusionism, not for Palestinian rights. This is not changing the American Jewish scene from within. It is not working with my dear friends and comrades at JVP, not even working with liberals at Peace Now. It is working with a propaganda arm of the Israeli state.
It is not ad hominem or in any way unfair to point those basic facts out.
"I don't really find the
Permalink howard replied on
"I don't really find the inconsistency in working for a Palestinian state and anarchism."
well, i do. neither you nor dan are anarchists, you're just both social democrats of different stripes.
"That said, to endorse an ethnically dominated or exclusive state - not to mention endorsing the racist trope of "demographic suicide" is beyond the pale."
well that's exactly what ashanti alston does and you seem to have no problem working with him.
grow up howard
Permalink Mark Lance replied on
Neither of those comments are worthy of serious response. They reflect solely on you.
Equal Rights for All
Permalink Jinjirrie replied on
Does Sieradski support equal rights for all and true social justice in Israel or a political entity with laws which privilege one group?
From his blog:
'Rather I would say, I believe strongly in the need for a Jewish state and Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, but I do not — by any stretch of the imagination — support the policies of the government of Israel and I actively oppose the occupation of the Palestinian territories.'
This position represents the status quo in Israel of an elite majority dominating a deprivileged 20%, a schema lubricated by US taxpayer monies fed to Israel and which are nearly all repatriated back to the 1% in the US. How can Sieradski's stance be congruent with the aims of the Occupy movement?