The anti-Israel left is engaged in a coordinated effort to unite their cause with the Occupy Wall Street ("OWS") protests taking place in hundreds of cities around the country. In recent weeks, anti-Israel signs have been spotted at OWS protests and several anti-Israel groups have begun to organize campaigns using the language of OWS in an attempt to exploit the enthusiasm of the movement and channel it for their cause.
The first formal attempt to unite OWS and the anti-Israel movement came from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, the coordinating body of the global BDS campaign against Israel. On October 13, 2011, the committee issued a statement expressing solidarity with OWS and describing the objectives of the two movements as similar. The statement, titled "Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!," called on Occupy protesters to incorporate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into their demands: "So as you break your own chains and build your own effective resistance against corporate tyranny, we ask you to demand a just peace for all the peoples in the Middle East… Palestinians, too, are part of the 99% around the world that suffer at the hands of the 1% whose greed and ruthless quest for hegemony have led to unspeakable suffering and endless war."
This sentiment was again expressed by an anti-Israel activist while being interviewed on Democracy Now!, a left-wing radio station, two weeks later. In response to the U.S. decision to vote against admitting Palestine into UNESCO, the activist, a woman named Phyllis Bennis who works for the Institute for Policy Studies, said, "What we are really seeing there is really a classic example of the one percent, where most of our interests do not lie, controlling the 99 percent, the one percent being Israel and its supporters in the United States…"
In recent weeks, anti-Israel rhetoric has become increasingly visible at OWS protests in several U.S. cities:
Various Israel-related signs have been spotted at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, including a sign that read, "Gaza Supports the Occupation of Wall Street," and a poster featuring the Handala (an icon of Palestinian resistance) with the words, "Occupy Wall $t. Revolution until Victory."
Some anti-Israel groups, sensing that the language and message of the Occupy movement is amenable to the anti-Israel cause, have overtly expressed support for the "Occupy" movement and/or have initiated campaigns using Occupy-esque language:
While much has been made of the few isolated incidents of anti-Semitism at these protests, the issue of anti-Israel groups infiltrating OWS is more prevalent and has potential to become a part of the movement. The most worrisome example of this development occurred during the recent Freedom Waves flotilla to Gaza. While it was sailing toward Gaza, a tweet went out from Occupy Wall Street's Twitter page that read, "We support and would like to express #solidarity to #FreedomWaves #Palestine #ows." The tweet was then deleted several hours later because, as an OWS spokesperson explained, although "many people involved in OWS support the liberation of Palestine…we have not been able to come to consensus on certain issues that are outside the scope of the original message of OWS." Shortly after the message was deleted, the Occupy contingent in Fort Worth tweeted, "Our support for #Gaza and #Freedomwaves is limitless. It emanates and echoes from the deepest purest regions of our heart. Love. Solidarity."
"Long Live Palestine! Occupy Wall Street;" "Gaza Supports the Occupation of Wall Street;" "Occupy Wall $t. Revolution until Victory"
-- Signs and slogans at Occupy Wall Street protests across the United States