Group tries to link Occupy Wall Street to anti-Semitism

Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:22pm EDT

NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - A new ad from the conservative pro-Israel group Emergency Committee for Israel tries to make a startling connection between the Occupy Wall Street protests and anti-Semitism.

The ad, which aired on CNBC Tuesday, shows Democrats including President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying they understand the protesters' message: Pelosi says she supports it, and Obama says the movement "expresses the frustrations that the American people feel."

It then cuts to a sequence of half a dozen people (from among the thousands and thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters) carrying anti-Semitic signs or expressing anti-Semitic sentiments. It concludes with the message: "Why are our leaders turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic, anti-Israel attacks? Tell President Obama and Leader Pelosi to stand up to the mob. Hate is not an American value."

Give the committee credit for being clever, if nothing else, in its effort to tar the entire movement based on the behavior of a few. (Two Wrap reporters who observed the protests in New York on three separate days did not see any anti-Semitic signs.)

The group did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Its board includes Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and former Republican presidential contender Gary Bauer.

In an MSNBC interview, Occupy Wall Street supporter Russell Simmons said the ad reflected isolated incidents and nothing more.

"I go down there every day and I see sweet, compassionate and astute people. I see the people who have high aspirations for America who are idealistic," Simmons said, according to Mediaite. "I see the most inclusive group America has to offer."

Expect complaints that the ad unfairly portrays the movement based on the actions of a few to be met with conservatives retorting that liberals have done the same thing to Tea Partiers.

A third politician featured in the ad, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, says of the protesters, "in my bones, I know they're right." The ad does not note that Spitzer is himself Jewish: A New York Times profile said that his family celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays (his wife was raised Southern Baptist), but that the family does not "adhere rigorously" to either religion. Still, Spitzer seems an especially unlikely candidate to support an anti-Semitic movement.