The Occupy juggernaut has attracted fringe thinking about global power since almost day one, and now theories about Jews holding the reins of control at global banks and financial institutions are stirring controversy that could detract from the movement's justified anger and credibility.
Anti-Semitism in the community of protesters came to a head this week after an LAUSD teacher identified as Shirley MacAllister unleashed her own rant at Occupy L.A. downtown. It was aired last night on CBS Los Angeles.
Here's what she said:
I think that the Zionist Jews that are running these big banks and the Federal reserve, which is not run by the federal government, need to be run out of this country.
We have a call into the LAUSD for its reaction.
Such sentiments at Occupy events from coast-to-coast inspired the Anti-Defamation League to call for an end to the madness yesterday. The ADL noted in a statement:
... History reveals how economic downturns can embolden anti-Semites to spread malicious conspiracy theories about Jews and money. The financial crisis over the past few years has shown how turmoil in the markets can be exploited by anti-Semites to promote stereotypes about Jews.
(It's not just the Mexicans who are scapegoated during economic downturns?).
The ADL gave examples of anti-Semitic signs it has spotted at Occupy rallies, including:
-"Hitler's Bankers Wall Street."
-"Gaza supports the occupation of Wall Street."
-"Humanity vs. the Rothschlds [sic]" (in L.A.).
Still, those signs seem to represent a fringe of a movement that has never been of one mind except when it comes to the idea that Wall Street sparked the Great Recession and continues reap profits while the rest of America suffers. One protester told CBS Los Angeles:
We don't support those people. We don't endorse their statements.
The organization's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, states:
While believe that these expressions are not representative of the larger views of the OWS movement, it is still critical for organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.
[Update at 3:16 p.m.]: The LAUSD, stating that McAllister was a substitute teacher and an "at-will" (as in fire-at-will) employee, fired her for her remarks. Here's what Superintendent John Deasy stated today:
As Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), I want to emphasize that we condemn the remarks made recently by Patricia McAllister.
Her comments, made during non-work time at a recent protest rally, were her private opinions and were not made in the context of District services. At LAUSD, we recognize that the law is very protective of the freedom of speech rights of public employees when they are speaking as private citizens during non-working time.
I further emphasize to our students, who watch us and look to us for guidance, to be role models and to represent the ideals by which LAUSD lives, that we will never stand for behavior that is disrespectful, intolerant or discriminatory.
As a day-to-day substitute teacher, Ms. McAllister was an at-will employee. As of today, she is no longer an employee of the LAUSD.
[Update No. 2, at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday]: Amanda Susskind, ADL Los Angeles' regional director, issued this statement today:
Superintendent Deasy and the school district took a clear and firm stand against anti-Semitism by clearly and unequivocally condemning McAllister's remarks. We welcome his statement, and we hope that others more directly affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA movements will make similar efforts to denounce any expressions of anti-Semitism during the protests. Regardless of how 'fringe' these statements may seem, they have found a large audience on the Internet, and should be denounced as loudly as possible as unacceptable expressions of anti-Semitism.