‘It’s time to stop the bully’: Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn on Occupy Wall Street, the Israel lobby and the New York Times

Mondoweiss interviews the founder of Adbusters: When the Occupy Wall Street protests began to attract attention in the fall, everyone wanted to know where the idea to set up a permanent protest at the heart of Manhattan’s financial district came from. The answer was the mind of Kalle Lasn, the co-editor (along with Micah White) of the anti-consumerist “culture jamming” magazine Adbusters. It was Adbusters, calling for an American “Tahrir moment,” that originally put out the call to occupy Wall Street on September 17.

But not all the attention Lasn and his magazine received was positive, though. It was the New York Times coverage of Adbusters and Lasn’s role in the Occupy movement that caused him the most grief by smearing them as anti-Semitic.

“For me, the New York Times is really important right now, because it was one of the most ugly experiences of my year, where they took a couple of quick swipes at my magazine and me personally,” Lasn told Mondoweiss in a recent phone interview. “I have such huge respect for the New York Times and I subscribe to it and I’ve been reading it every morning for the last ten years of my life.”

Now, Lasn is speaking out about the New York Times‘ refusal to print his response to two articles in the newspaper that alleged Adbusters was anti-Semitic. (Read more about the controversy here, and read this New Yorker article on the origins and future of Occupy Wall Street for more about Lasn and White.)

Mondoweiss recently caught up with Lasn for an extended interview with the sixty-nine year old activist to discuss Occupy Wall Street, Palestine, the Israel lobby and more. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times also features an article on Lasn today which includes this line: “In 2004, Adbusters published an article claiming that a large percentage of neoconservatives behind American foreign policy were Jewish.” This is a classic example of the way the New York Times subtly distorts the truth.

Lasn’s article did indeed make that claim, but to call it a claim is to suspend judgement on whether it has a factual basis. It is to say that Lasn made such an assertion but the journalist reporting it was in no position to verify or refute its validity. If there was a disputable claim it was that the 50 individuals Lasn named were indeed the most influential among the neoconservative — though Lasn himself attached the caveat that “neoconservative” is for some a badge of honor while for others an unwanted label and thus identifying who is and who is not a neoconservative is not that easy. But among those 50, Lasn pointed out that half of them are Jewish.

Now if he was pointing this out because he was conducting some kind of “Jew watch”, then he could reasonably be accused of being antisemtic. But far from doing that, he was instead asserting that the centrality that many neoconservatives give to Israel’s interests is not just coincidentally related to the fact that a disproportionate number of neoconservatives are Jews. The fact that he got attacked for pointing out a fairly obvious connection, rather than indicating that he must have had an insidious motive, much more strongly indicates how easily the neoconservatives feel threatened by anyone who highlights their ties to Israel.

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Comments

  1. delia ruhe says:

    O, Kalle Lasn, I’m sorry to hear that you had to learn the hard way how not to respond to accusations of antisemitism. Instead, you should have recognized that if you haven’t been called an antisemite by now, then you’re not doing enough in support of the cause of justice and the rule of international law in the Middle East. In other words, wear the accusation as a badge of honour.

  2. I agree with delia above. Antisemitism meant something very different in the past. It now means Justice For Palestine. Those of us not getting that label occasionally are not sufficiently involved in the cause. Please don’t grovel…….

  3. Frigga Karl says:

    I agree with both Delia and Laurie,
    The “antisemitism” yellers are not only against Justice for Palestine but also against social justice, and against antiracism! Theocratic Israel only knows its owns and reject every thing else. The “antisemitism” yellers in defending Israels apartheid are the real antisemits! These yellers are the gravediggers of Israel, because they defend the indefensible. Hounding the defenders of justice is the activity of hound dogs
    The antisemitism yellers are the hound dogs of Apartheid Israel. This is the dark side of the world.

  4. I politely disagree. Please read: http://pinteleyid.com/past-read.pdf