Former Vice Chair of the NY Merc Finances The Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Occupy Wall Street Poster Robert S Halper OSW Financier
Robert S. Halper is a successful retired multi-millionaire oil trader. He was the former Vice Chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NY Merc) - the US commodity-trading market place located in Lower Manhattan. Profiled in the New York Times because of the contributions Halper made to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, he has also made token contributions to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a front runner in the GOP Presidential nomination race. The Times quoted him as saying:
“My giving is a little A.D.D. — like me,” he said, referring to what he described as his hyperactivity and wandering attention.
Brooklyn-born Halper came from modest economic circumstances. His father ran a liquor store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Reared in the East New York section of Brooklyn, the family ultimately settled in Woodmere, a heavily Jewish community in Long Island’s Nassau County. Halper, a graduate of the State University of New York went to work in the trading pits at the NY Merc in 1983 and rose to the top of the oil trading game. He retired in 2007 and lives with his wife and family on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Halper is the epitome of what many of the protesters camped out in squalid Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan rail against. He is one of their hated One Per Centers. However Halper has felt their pain. The Times indicated that Halper comes down to Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan every day to contemplate what many of us deem the madness of this disparate crowd. A crowd allegedly composed of both extreme leftist and right wing elements. The Times quotes him as saying:
“The whole thing is very surreal to me — the fact that I spent my whole career right across the street,” he said in an interview last week on a marble bench near the park. “It makes me a little anxious, to tell you the truth. It could go anywhere. I just pray that it ends peaceful.”
Halper is a bit feckless. Note this comment about a poll taken of OWS protesters from a Contentions blog post by Alana Goodman:
Democratic pollster Douglas Schoenâ€‹finally gives us some statistical insight into what OWS actually believes, with a must-read column today in the Wall Street Journal.
Schoen’s polling firm interviewed 200 activists in Zuccotti Park last week:
Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52 percent) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98 percent) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31 percent) would support violence to advance their agenda.
According to the Times profile, Halper had contributed $20,000 to the Canadian anti-consumerist and pro-ecological magazine Adbusters founded by Kalle Lasn. Note this Washington Post interview with Lasn. That money helped to kick start the OWS movement. Lasn pitched him on the OWS at a dinner two months ago likening it to a revolution modeled on the Arab Spring. Apparently, Halper has had a long term relationship with Lasn, as he has given Adbusters more than $75,000 over two decades. Adbusters founder, Kalle Lasn, an Estonian German Refugee as a child during WWII who eventually made his way to Canada from Australia, is not above engaging in some of the classic antisemitic Jewish conspiracy rhetoric. Lasn has a history of perpetuating conspiracy theories that say the Jews control America's foreign policies.
Israel Today reported disturbing Antisemitic canards captured on videos of protesters in New York, Los Angeles and on Neo-Nazi websites:
Last week, we reported on a lone protestor at the Wall Street sit-in who insisted that America's economic woes could all be traced back to "the Jews."
Since then that message has been picked up by others at "Occupy Wall St." demonstrations around the country.
In Los Angeles, California, protestor Patricia McAllister, who identified herself as an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District (we can only hope she is not an educator), had this to say:
"I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government… they need to be run out of this country."
On the American Nazi Party website, leader Rocky Suhayda voiced support for "Occupy Wall St." and asked, "Who hold the wealth and power in this country? The Judeo-Capitalists. Who is therefore the #1 enemy who makes this filth happen? The Judeo-Capitalists.".
Back in New York, another protestor insisted that "a small ethnic group constitutes almost all of the hedge fund managers and bankers on Wall St. They are all Jewish. There is a conspiracy in this country where Jews control the media, finances… They have pooled their money together in order to take control of America."
What is most disturbing is that Halper hasn’t been outraged by elements of antisemitism captured in several videos taken of protesters in both New York and Los Angeles. Videos that now have been compiled by a conservative group the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) seeking funds to put ads up on cable TV. Watch the ECI video ad.
While we believe that these expressions are not representative of the larger views of the OWS movement, it is still critical for organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.
There is no evidence that these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are representative of the larger movement or that they are gaining traction with other participants. However, history demonstrates time and again how economic downturns can embolden anti-Semites to spread malicious conspiracy theories and promote stereotypes about Jews and money. As a consequence, these statements must not be left unchallenged.
Problem is the OWS movement is leaderless. Alana Goodman of the Contentions blog commented:
. . . if there are no leaders of the movement, who is even in the position to condemn the anti-Semitism at the rallies? The movement claims to have no official leaders, no official platform, no official aims. In an environment like that, it may not even make a difference if a few members speak out against the anti-Semites – they have no “legitimacy” as leaders in the eyes of the protesters.
“In light of the accelerated and vociferous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel pronouncements emanating from the Occupied Wall Street groups – at times urging the expulsion of Zionists and Jews from the United States – we urge President Obama to publicly denounce these remarks.
“Furthermore, we ask David Axelrod and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, and other fellow Jews enthusiastically tied to the protests, to remember that the scape-goating that results from class warfare rhetoric has historically made Jews a target and endangered our community.
Will any of this weigh in on Robert S. Halper? He is a target of those roiling protesters in Zuccotti Park across the way from the NY Merc that was the engine of his personal financial success and wealth. Probably not. Pity. His estimated annual $100,000 giving might be put to better use, underwriting the ECI’s video ad campaign combating OWS antisemitism.