Occupy Wall Street and the Media: Two Alumni Perspectives

As with most political and economic issues, Tel Yehudah and Young Judaea alumni have a wide variety of perspectives. The Occupy Wall Street movement has generated much discussion throughout society and of course, amongst our alumni. Two of our alumni have recently blogged about OWS and, of course bring differing perspectives and insights. Former national mazkir and bet meat pot washer, Jonathan Weiler, takes issue with the media's assertion "that the movement's grievances and demands are unclear." Jonathan writes:

In fact, as former Congressman Alan Grayson recently argued, the core complaint of OWS was quite straightforward: "They're complaining that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody's held responsible for that. Not a single person's been indicted or convicted for destroying 20 percent of our national net worth ... They're upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well." More succinctly, one of the Senate's senior Democrats, Majority Whip Richard Durbin, said two years ago about that body, "Frankly, the banks own the place."

Of course, "the 99%"—as the movement has dubbed itself—is an imprecise figure and does not represent a monolithic group. But it draws a clear, bright line reflecting the mounting evidence that the political system responds disproportionately to the interests of a small sliver of American society. The 99% also reflects the fact that income and wealth gains of the past 30 years have overwhelmingly accrued to the top 1% of Americans. In sum, although OWS participants articulate a wide range of concerns, their core complaint is quite clear: The American political system is beset by a fundamental lack of fairness, manipulated to benefit a small elite while the vast majority experience increasing economic insecurity.

Read all of "Occupy the Gatekeeper" here.

Meanwhile, Gil Troy, from Queens Young Judaea and a long time merakez at Tel Yehudah, also takes issue with the media's coverage of Occupy Wall Street after visiting the encampment last week. He takes issue with the disproportionate amount of coverage he believes is being given to a "marginal movement." Gil writes:

The true story about “Occupy Wall Street” is how preoccupied the media is with a marginal movement. In 1962, the historian Daniel Boorstin coined the term “pseudo-event” to describe made-for-the-cameras events, which barely stand alone without the klieg-light-induced boost. Similarly, this movement is more of a con than a conquest of capitalism, more of a charade than a parade of reforming game-changers. Their slogan, “we are the 99 percent,” is inaccurate – more like .0000000009 percent.

When I visited, at 8:30 AM one morning, and saw masters-of-the-universe in their powersuits photographing the squatters, I wanted to shout, “Turn around! You, the supposed bystanders, the passers-by, are the real story.” Wandering around Wall Street on a weekday morning thousands of people stream by, going to work. Their energy, their diverse styles, their different tasks, their props – wired into their iPods, armed with their Starbucks – tell the real story of modern America. Passing the cops and the drivers, the security guards and the security analysts, the secretaries and the stock brokers, the real people who make the city work, I felt they would save America. Amid the many worker-bees paying their bills, digging out of debt, sending their kids to college, are the few queen bees, the future Steve Jobses working maniacally to innovate, rather than “chilling” in a park

Gil also talks about the inspiration some OWL participants received from the protests in Israel this past summer:

In DC, when I spoke to an organizer, he asked me where I was from. “Jerusalem” I answered – curious to see his response. He smiled. “You guys had those great protests,” he said, “sorry to hear how expensive housing is.” “Yes,” I responded, “those protests had a huge middle class base” –he insisted ODC did too.

This interaction made me doubly proud. After years of scarring from the delegitimization battles, it was nice to see Israel inspiring leftists again. And, yes, Israel’s protest movement also has to figure out Act 2, to solve that difficult post-Cold War conundrum of how we develop a thriving capitalist economy with some seichel, some social justice, some soul without socialism. But Israel’s protests are not pseudo-events. They are broad, middle-class, open, inviting, mainstream, real – and politically formidable – something Occupy Wall Street, despite all the media hype, has yet to become.

Read all of "Occupy Wall Street: Preoccupied with PC Posturing" here.

We would look forward to reading your reactions to Gil and Jonathan's blogs and your thoughts about Occupy Wall Street and the media. Please comment below.

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