“It’s Yom Kippur. Banks should atone.” — The Truth Behind the Sign

Zombie and Pajamas Media smear a 14-year old Jewish girl with false charges of antisemitism

There have been many reports of alleged antisemitism being a major part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, most of them originating at right wing blogs. In some cases there have indeed been incidents, rhetoric and signage where the anti-Semitism is rather self-evident.

In other cases, bias against the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and the political ideology therein leads to a mis-characterization and distortion of what is seen, in order to maintain the right wing narrative of OWS and the left.

This is one such case.

The case involves 14-year old Sophie Johnson, who attended an Occupy Los Angeles demonstration and was photographed by “Ringo” (who runs the website called “Ringo’s Pictures”) holding a sign reading, “It’s Yom Kippur. Banks should atone.”

Sophie Johnson (Ringo’s Pictures)

This photograph was featured in the PJ Tatler section of Pajamas Media entitled: More Anti-Semitism at Occupy Los Angeles. Below this photograph “Zombie” provides the following caption and interpretation:

‘It’s Yom Kippur: Banks should atone!’ Hmmmm…why would the banks and bankers engage in a Jewish ritual practice (atonement on Yom Kippur) if they weren’t Jewish? Again, we return to the ‘Jewish bankers’ theme.

This webpage, already known to me, came up in a discussion we were having here at LGF. Being curious, I decided to Google for a possible story behind the sign and most importantly the young girl holding this sign, who had been accused of antisemitism by “Zombie” and Pajamas Media. The answer popped up in front of me almost immediately, and it was written by the very same young girl that is being maligned by right wing bloggers:

Why I Went to Occupy L.A. Instead of Synagogue
14-year-old eighth grader at Malibu Middle School in Malibu, CA
Posted: 10/10/11 06:51 AM ET

A little more than a month ago, I became a Bat Mitzvah. In Judaism, that means I am now an adult and have pledged to keep the traditions of my faith. And yet it was for those very reasons that I decided to spend Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the Jewish year - joining the protesters of Occupy L.A. instead of going to synagogue.

‘I am also fulfilling my role as a Jew, which is to help people who need my help.’ — Sophie Johnson

No, my parents weren’t thrilled when I first brought up skipping services on this important holiday, but since my Mom marched on Washington for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, I think she at least understood where I was coming from. Also, my mother knows first-hand what it’s like to lose her job in this recession. She was laid off from the newspaper where she worked for 18 years before she got hired by the Huffington Post and AOL.

Sophie Johnson (Mette Lampcov)

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement, a day where we reflect on how we could be better people and apologize to anyone who we may have hurt. I think it’s time for the big corporations and banks in America to say they are sorry too.

Continue reading at the Huffington Post.

As you can see, the girl in question is in fact Jewish, and recently “became a Bat Mitzvah.” Her intentions were according to her interpretation of Judaism in the context of Occupy Los Angeles and the economic injustices that are a major part of American society.

It is not antisemitic by any means.

I close by suggesting that Zombie, Ringo, and Pajamas Media issue an immediate retraction and apology to Sophie Johnson.

UPDATE at 10/16/11 1:00:32 pm

I’ve come across several right wing blogs slandering 14 year old Sophie Johnson as an antisemite. One such blog is JamieWearingFool where he continues the right wing smear job:

Ugly Anti-Semitism at ‘Occupy LA’
Thursday, October 13, 2011
by JammieWearingFool

I guess when they become violent those Jewish bankers will be among the targets.

[…]

It’s gotten so ridiculous the media is now concocting polls telling us this “movement” is now twice as popular as the Tea Party. Which begs the question: Shouldn’t any poll taken on the “99%” show a 99% approval?

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