[Update at end of post]
The modus operandi of the right, especially in the USA, when moving to dismiss or demonise perceived opposition, is for an accusation to be made – whatever little evidence there is to support it – and then for the pundits to pile in as one as that accusation is repeated, in order to reinforce it. The tactic has now been used against the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests, and the accusation is of anti-Semitism.
That might seem a difficult one to stand up, particularly as the protest just celebrated Yom Kippur, but a group calling itself the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) has managed to find an outlier in OWS making reference to bankers as Jews, and has produced a commercial where the odd nutter has become a “mob”, which is all about “hate”. The pundits have wasted no time piling in.
The deeply unpleasant Rush Limbaugh, for whom math may not have been his strongest subject, has asserted that “the 99%” means they are against “the 1%”, with the latter being the size of the US’ Jewish population. Rushie has been joined by the increasingly wayward Glenn Beck (no longer a “star” of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse)) making accusations of anti-Semitism.
So who is behind ECI? Their website does not say, other than they want to maintain “a strong US-Israel relationship”. And, of course, the commercial is featured prominently. They are supported by Bill Kristol, who was pro-Iraq war, pro-Sarah Palin, pro-military strike against Iran, and who has wants to characterise invasion of Muslim countries as “liberation”.
Interestingly, Talking Points Memo (TPM) has asked ECI for comment, but none has been forthcoming. Accusations have been made that ECI is more about the well-off trying to discredit OWS, and that the suggestion of anti-Semitism is being used to drive the campaign. If so, it’s a truly desperate strategy, but then, much of the vitriol thrown at OWS recently smacks of desperation.
Leading the counter-attack has been the one pundit who has been on the ball with OWS more or less from the start: Keith Olbermann, the right’s favourite hate figure, has addressed what he calls “smears” from Limbaugh and Karl Rove, and dubious polling regarding the alleged propensity of OWS to violence. As so often, when it needs saying, Olbermann says it. Worth a watch.
[UPDATE October 20: Fox Business Host John Stossel visited OWS and got a reception just as hostile as that accorded Geraldo Rivera earlier. For this, Bill O'Reilly dismissed the protesters as "loons", not the first time Bill-O has used the characterisation. Stossel's reception suggests that the attacks from the right are not helpful. At all]