Does the 99% support freedom for Palestine? The twitter debate

A deleted tweet from the OccupyWallStreet account, offering support to the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla, sparks a controversy as to where the 99% stands on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
A sign showing support to Palestine at an American “Occupy” protest.
As the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” headed towards the Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli blockade, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement posted a surprising and exhilarating tweet:“We support and would like to express solidarity to FreedomWaves.”

Moments later, the Twitter representative of the  Canada Boat to Gaza posted an appreciative response, “We are thrilled to receive the support of  OccupyWallStreet  Looks like only the 1% support the Israeli blockade of Gaza.”

The Twitter-sphere flared up with expressions of praise and affirmation, suggesting that some in the 99% naturally link the struggle for the Occupation of Wall Street with the struggle against the Israeli occupation as two related causes.

Approximately four hours later, however, Occupy Wall Street’s tweet mysteriously disappeared from its home page on Twitter. The Twitter-sphere was taken aback- “didn’t realize #OWS is non-political!!” remarked one tweeter.

Another insisted that “If OWS can not support FreedomWaves and Gaza then they should not compare themselves to ArabSpring or Tahrir”.

Canada Boat to Gaza simply offered a few words from Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Many tweeps asked why OWS had deleted the tweet. The closest official answer came from Daniel Sieradski, a new media activist who has been central to the OccupyJudaism activities, who explained, the “FreedomWaves tweet was unauthorized, did not have reflect OWS community consensus and was subsequently deleted.”

He added, “OWS does not have a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and “OWS is a consensus based movement. The GA has never discussed the I/P issue & even if it did, it would never reach consensus.”

Sieradski acknowledged he was not speaking as a spokesperson from Occupy Wall Street but he had “heard what happened from people close to it.”

As the controversy blazed across Twitter, it opened a space for the 99% to discuss the connections between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the global dominance of the 1%:

“OWS is inseparable from#Gaza. The 1% diverts resources from the 99% by Israel’s blockading and shelling 100% of Gaza”;

“The Tear Gas used in #Oakland is the same tear gas used in#Palestine, when protesters demonstrate non violently”

Hours later, OccupyFortWorth expressed its support for Freedom Waves for Gaza- “Our support for Gaza and Freedomwaves is limitless. It emanates and echoes from the deepest purest regions of our heart. Love. Solidarity”, asserting, in contrast to OccupyWallSt’s hesitancy, that “we don’t mind losing followers who are uncritical or unwilling to engage the issues (Or who are reflexively pro-Zionist.)”.

A day later, when the Occupy Wall Street movement was questioned regarding this incident, it replied in an email:

Many people involved in OWS support the liberation of Palestine and many other freedom movements around the world. However, since we have grown very quickly as an organization, we have not been able to come to consensus on certain issues that are outside the scope of the original message of OWS, which has dealt with the American financial crisis, democracy and wealth inequality.  The flotilla actions are something that we have not had time to discuss or come to a cohesive policy on, but that does not mean that we do not fundamentally support it…the tweet was erased because there was discussion about how it was not appropriate to address this issue on these large public social media accounts until we had agreement from the group on our exact stance on these kinds of international conflicts.

( / 12.11.2011)

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