I just read a 2224 word screed by Richard Silverstein about Dan Sieradski and the Occupy Wall Street, Freedom Waves Gaza Flotilla, tweet “controversy” and now all I want to do is take a very long, very hot shower. See, it all started when Occupy Wall Street’s twitter account released the following tweet:
We support and would like to express #solidarity to #FreedomWaves #Palestine #owsâ€
Shortly thereafter, the tweet was deleted, but not before being noted, repeated and retweeted by the New York Times and a number of others. Why was it deleted? Well, occupy Wall Street is a consensus based organization, and the tweet was not the product of consensus but rather the work of one person who did not represent Occupy’s General Assembly and its working groups. This kind of “direct democracy” is a pretty weighty affair – here, watch this video to get an idea of what I’m talking about:
So when Daniel Sieradski, one of the founders of Occupy Judaism, and others, questioned the provenance and representativeness of the tweet, it was quickly acertained that it did not represent anything that the General Assembly had discussed or approved. Thus it was an easy decision to delete the tweet. This is kind of how it went down according to Tablet:
Daniel Sieradski, the Jewish social media guru and activist with connections to Occupy Wall Street (among other things, he organized last monthâ€™s Kol Nidrei service across the street from Zuccotti Park), told me this morning that a single individual with access to the feed had made the tweet, and that then Sieradski and others â€œraised concerns to folks on the PR and media teams that there had been no consensus on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (opinions differ as to whether the topic is even germane), that it was not appropriate for this individual to make such a declaration on behalf of the movement, and that the ramifications would likely be severe.â€ He added, â€œOthers in their affinity group concurred that it was inappropriate and the tweet was deleted.â€
I’ve been following Occupy Wall Street from day one. I’ve seen umpteen videos of the decision making process. It’s not one that lends itself to being “stifled.” The only things being stifled are attempts to coopt the movement and use it’s popularity to advance narrower agendas. And let’s face it, when you’re trying to be the voice of the 99% – most agendas are narrower.
Occupy Wall Street is basically an economic movement, brought on by the havoc caused when an under regulated Wall Street sold poorly secured mortgage backed derivatives, thus inspiring the housing bubble and the inevitable collapse that followed. I’m admittedly oversimplifying a bit (to say the least), but I hope you get my point. Occupy Wall Street is also very decentralized and the space at Zucotti Park is open to one and all. This includes all kinds of people who do not represent the movement. Some of these people may even harbor anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel sentiment – but they are not representative of the movement as a whole. Please, let’s put that distortion to rest right now, ok? OK! Moving right along…
Knowing this, it would be ignorant, if not outright mendacious to claim that Dan Sieradski “stifled” anything, as Siverstein has. But ignorance and mendacity are par for the course for Richard Silverstein as they are for the many extremist anti-Israel Palagandistas that attacked Sieradski on twitter and on anti-Israel blogs like Silverstein’s. They described Sieradski as a racist, ethnocentric, fascist etc. while spitting out “Zionist” in much the same way you’d expect a Klansman to say “nigger” just before a lynching. Sieradski’s position on Israel seems to be in a constant state of flux, but it’s pretty safe to say that whatever it is, it’s not racist, it’s not ethnocentric and he firmly opposes the occupation. Siverstein’s issue with Sieradski, other than the fact that he quite aptly called Silverstein a douchebag, is that Sieradski opposes an unfettered Palestinian Right of Return. Silverstein himself came to the same conclusion after 35 years of being â€œintellectually and politically absorbed by the issue of Middle East peace.â€ His flip flop on this issue only happened maybe 6 years ago, but now anyone who doesn’t toe his line is worthy of the sort of scathing attack Sieradski was subject to, the facts be damned!
Again, this has nothing to do with anyone’s particular perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict. It’s just another example of the ideological Orthodoxy demanded by extremist elements, who will do whatever it takes to attack those who disagree with them, including outright lying and misrepresenting facts. Dan Sieradski did not stifle or censor the Occupy Wall Street movement, and Richard Silverstein is a liar and a bully. Those who choose to rely on or associate with this nasty piece of work, do so at their own peril.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I myself have been called many things by Richard Silverstein: A bully, a true scumbag, a gay basher, a thief, a liar etc. I have also called Richard Silverstein a whiny bitch. Sue me.