Justice

Brooklyn Commons hosting antisemitic truther Christopher Bollyn

On Wednesday, September 7, The Brooklyn Commons, a nonprofit coworking space for progressive organizations including Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), Jacobin Magazine, The Indypendent newspaper, and WBAI Radio, will be hosting a talk in its public café by antisemite and 9/11 truther Christopher Bollyn. The description of the event on the Commons’ website itself invokes the spectre of a shadowy Jewish elite secretly orchestrating world affairs, stating that “9/11 and the War on Terror are dual deceptions imposed on our nation by the Israeli/Zionist and Neo-Conservative cabal that controls our government and media.”
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The original event posting on the Brooklyn Commons website.
When reproached on social media, a representative of the Commons stated that he did not infer anything antisemitic from Bollyn’s website — let alone their own event’s description.
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Yet a quick review of Bollyn’s site reveals countless examples of antisemitic conspiracy theories alleging a “Zionist Jewish” plot to induce America into the War on Terror so that their “cabal” can expand its global power. Here are just a few:
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Bollyn also makes numerous references to the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Bollyn, who is a former contributor to the white nationalist American Free Press, has also been linked to Holocaust deniers by the Anti-Defamation League and has appeared on David Duke’s radio program. He has been called “a raging anti-Semite” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In addition to the Commons’ website, the event is also being promoted in the café itself with a poster claiming 9/11 to have been a Zionist “false flag” operation.


The Commons did not respond to numerous attempts at contact on social media by this author.
Sadly, the booking of Bollyn and the failure of the Commons to be responsive to complaints about his antisemitism reflect the ongoing failure of the Left to recognize and acknowledge the seriousness of antisemitism within its own ranks. This further concretizes the impression that when it comes to the vilification of minorities, an exception will always be made in the case of Jews. As long as one wraps their antisemitic motifs in a veil of anti-Zionism, even the most blatant bigotry is fair game.
[UPDATE 9/3, Evening] Bollyn will also be speaking at another highly-regarded progressive space, Busboys and Poets Café, in Washington, D.C., the day before his Brooklyn Commons appearance. Details here.
[UPDATE 9/4, Morning] Busboys and Poets has canceled Bollyn’s talk. Still no word from Brooklyn Commons, which has now caught the attention of NYC Councilmember Brad Lander.

[UPDATE 9/4, Evening] The Brooklyn Insitute for Social Research, a resident of the Brooklyn Commons, issued a statement condemning the event, cosigned by Jacobin, The Indypendent, and the Marxist Education Project:

As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.

FUREE and the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory later signed on as well.
Bhaskar Sunkara, the publisher of Jacobin, also independently expressed hope that the event would be canceled, as did WBAI hip-hop DJ Jay Smooth.

[UPDATE 9/5, Morning] Bollyn’s canceled talk at Busboys and Poets has been moved to the National Press Club (h/t Rafael Shimunov).
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[UPDATE 9/5, Evening] Brooklyn Commons has removed the more incendiary antisemitic language from the Bollyn event listing but has not removed the event from their website.

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They have also, for some strange reason, begun responding to some complaints on Facebook with a link to the BISR statement, despite neither signing the statement nor canceling the event themselves.
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Meanwhile, the Unitarian Society of Hartford, which was to host Bollyn on Friday, has canceled his appearance.
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[UPDATE 9/6, Early Morning] It appears that Melissa Ennen, the owner of Brooklyn Commons, is herself a big-time 9/11 truther and a former organizer with NY 9/11 Truth.
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This would seem to explain, well, everything — the booking, the prolonged silence, the edited event posting. Everything. While it’s heartening to see many leftist voices, including the residents of the Commons, express their opposition to Bollyn and his brand of antisemitism, it’s nonetheless troubling that a person who subscribes to such unhinged beliefs, as Ennen appears to do, could rise to a place of prominence and influence in the New York progressive community. Doubt the official story of 9/11 all you like. Blame the “ZOG?” GTFO.
[UPDATE 9/6, Late Morning] Okay, now this is just getting silly. Our investigation has led to the discovery of Bollyn’s booking agent: A midtown Manhattan-based “shamanic palm reader,” Cathleen McGuire, who claims to have psychic abilities. Somehow she failed to forsee her bigoted client’s talks getting canceled.
McGuire also booked Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett, who has seemingly never encountered a terrorist act he didn’t believe Israel plotted, on a panel at this year’s Left Forum. 10 years ago, Barrett spoke at a NY 9/11 Truth event organized by Brooklyn Commons owner Melissa Ennen, which also featured ZOG-conspiracist Wayne Madsen, a contributor to the virulently antisemitic Veterans Today, as well as the king of all Internet conspiracy theorists himself, Alex Jones.
[UPDATE 9/6, Afteroon] West Park Church, which was to host Bollyn this Friday evening, has confirmed to us that his event has been canceled. The Village Voice, earlier today, also confirmed that the paper has removed the event listing from its website.

Meanwhile, more members of the Brooklyn Commons community are speaking out.

Bollyn, for his part, has updated his website to note that his event in Hartford “may not happen,” claiming that threats were made against the Unitarian Society.
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There is now only one venue left in the tri-state area giving Christopher Bollyn’s hateful conspiracies a platform: Brooklyn Commons.
[UPDATE, 9/6 Late Afternoon] Melissa Ennen has posted a statement to the Brooklyn Commons website arguing that she opposes censorship and did not set out to create a safe space for progressives. She also regards Bollyn’s antisemitism as just a “disparate” view in a “wide politcal spectrum.”

I did not research the speaker before accepting the rental. I do not have the time, resources or inclination to censor the hundreds of groups who rent the space. […] I agree that all forms of racism should have no place in leftist spaces, but in my opinion, to get to the root of racist thinking, confrontation works better than censorship. […] But I never intended for The Commons to be a safe space at all times. Nor was it designed to be a cozy cocoon for intramural debate among leftists. From the beginning my goal has been to foster discussion among disparate groups across a wide political spectrum.

Around the same time as Ennen’s statement went live, Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice both released statements condemning the event and calling for its cancellation.

Every remaining stop on Bollyn’s tour is now canceled except for Brooklyn Commons.

Spencer Sunshine and Rafael Shimunov contributed to this report.
[UPDATE 9/7, Afternoon] The Baffler has relocated its upcoming event at Brooklyn Commons, while the Brooklyn Institue for Social Research is busy relocating all its upcoming events.


IfNotNow, which held a training at the Commons just last week, has also issued a statement condeming the Bollyn event and threatening to move its trainings if the talk goes on as planned.

Earlier today the Commons removed the “Who We Are” page from its website where it stated its progressive mission and listed its member organizations, seemingly indicating that it no longer has a progressive mission or its members do not want to be a shield for Melissa Ennen’s bad politics. They have also removed the review functionality from their Facebook page, disappearing dozens of angry complaints in the process.

A protest is now planned outside the venue during Bollyn’s talk this evening.

Bollyn, meanwhile, has alleged that his tour cancelations are the result of a Zionist plot to stifle his freedom of speech, writing on his website:

The event was bumped up to the National Press Club after the planned venue, Busboys and Poets, received threats from Zionists who use gangster tactics to stifle discussion of Israel’s role in the false-flag terrorism of 9/11. Americans need to stand up to Zionist assaults against our freedoms of speech and assembly.

Further reading

24 thoughts on “Brooklyn Commons hosting antisemitic truther Christopher Bollyn

  1. There is nothing anti-semitic about the TRUTH, for the truth has no bias. The facts are as the facts reveal themselves to be to in the eyes of objective observers, of which the numbers are many and quickly growing.
    Ironically, hypocritically, and inexcusably, it is Jews (the Zionist form) who are most guilty of “anti-Semitism”, as they continue to aggressively promote blatantly illegitimate discrimination against Muslims.
    If the decent Jews of the world who care about truth and justice do not take a stand against their ultranationalist Zionist fascist counterparts, they will very soon learn that the world will only stand for the evil of tyranny and murder of innocent human beings for just so long. So be warned…the world is not asleep and the Zionist agenda is now well known. The treasonous work of AIPAC, Likud party and other Zionist lobbies are unwittingly laying the tracks for a new Holocaust.

    1. Most Jews don’t even understand politics much better than other Americans. Even if the Jewish Elite were responsible for all the world’s problems how would most Jews even know?

  2. Clearly, being an “anti-imperialist” compensates for all the other venom he is spewing and makes him acceptable to the hosts:
    Why is the U.S. Waging War in Syria?
    by Christopher Bollyn
    Why is the U.S. waging war in Syria? Why are U.S. troops in a country where the United States has no national interest? Who are we fighting for? Why is the U.S. training, funding, and arming rebel groups that are fighting to overthrow the democratically elected government of Syria?
    http://bollyn.com/why-is-the-us-in-syria/

  3. Might be interesting to ask this social-media dude at The Commons (or at Busboys and Poets, ugh, so sad) what they think of the idea that 9/11 was a Zionist conspiracy.

  4. The self-identified Jewish Left will always move to protect the Jewish Establishment from genuine attacks on its power. I am not at all surprised at this article.

    1. How…? This man used language which made it sound like he was talking about all Jews. Do you really think that is okay!

    2. The Jewish left generally doesn’t want Jews to be exterminated or mass-murdered. Perhaps that’s your main disagreement with the Jewish left.
      The Jewish FRINGE-left (Jewish Voice For Peace, If Not Now, etc) seem open to Israeli Jews being mass-murdered and seem to only hate Israelis and not the people who want to murder Israelis, so you’d probably like them a bit more.

    3. Walk it off, Adolf. Your side lost in WW2 and you aren’t doing any better in 2016. Give up on scapegoating Jewish people. Find a hobby. Stamp collecting. Maybe gardening.

  5. He slept with dogs and got fleas and I believe even 9/11 needs to be reinvestigated and Israel may have played a part in the events and what came after. But frankly he ought to retract some of what he wrote as it is borderline anti-Jewish and sometimes right hateful toward most non-whites. Osama Bin Laden wasn’t framed he did do it and pinning it all on Israel is wrong Bush pretended nothing was happening with Bibi and Suadi Arabia and Pakistan played a part too. The 9/11 Truth movement is nut and even those not talking, “Jewish Zionist Cabals” need to take a chill. Osama did do, there were no explosives in the Towers and a plane hit the pentagon. People helped Osama in certain Governments including our own and Bush let him get away. But no that is not a reason to believe every anti-semitic claim or every Illuminati lizard people conspiracy belief. And frankly, the total corruption which would make most third world dictators blush also needs to be talk and the crimes of not only Jewish but majority Christian members of the Bush Admin. we need real investigation into the entire Bush Regime and it is shameful that most of the victims who were tortured, raped, murdered, sent to die, infected, scarred, lied to, or denied their rights still are no closer to justice. But basement dwellers in tinfoil hats and Neo-Nazis will not give them what they need!

  6. I am very surprised that Jewish Voice For Peace members object to this. Because JVP seems to overwhelmingly support Jew-haters in the Middle East. They seem to love Palestinian Jew-haters. They only seem to object to European or white Jew-haters.
    Jewish Voice For Peace hates Israel for being a Jewish state. Even though Israel uses DEMOCRACY and its DEMOCRACY majority to declare itself a Jewish state. That is LITERALLY what DEMOCRACY is. Yet JVP hates Israel for defining itself. Yet at the same time, Jewish Voice For peace DOES NOT criticize Arab states for being Arab states. Or Muslim states for being Muslim states. JVP SINGLES OUT the world’s only Jewish state and demonizes its very EXISTENCE as a Jewish state, and JVP seems to partner with intifada-supporters who would HAPPILY watch Israeli Jews be mass-murdered by the millions if Israel’s neighbors ever got a chance to make that a reality.
    Jewish Voice For Peace is an anti-semitic orgnization.
    If Jewish Voice For Peace was NOT anti-semitic, then for every minute then spent trying to convince the world’s only Jewish state to not be a Jewish state, they would spend an HOUR also trying to convince the world’s Arab and Muslim states to stop being Arab and Muslim states. But they don’t. JVP ONLY targets the Jewish state using this standard.
    One standard for Jews. Another standard for others. THAT is the VERY DEFINITION of anti-semitism.
    And therefore, Jewish Voice For Peace is an ANTI-SEMITIC organization. An anti-Jewish, anti-peace group whose actions, if they succeeded, would put millions of Middle East Jewish lives in MORTAL DANGER.
    But, JVP doesn’t care.
    Which is why ALL Jews, including Israel-criticizing leftist Jews, should reject JVP as a hate group, because that’s what they are.
    If someone’s political views mean putting Israel or Israeli Jews in CRITICAL DANGER, and that person still stands behind those political views, that person is at best an imbecile and at worst an anti-semite. ANd that’s what JVP is.

      1. Jewish Voice For Peace are extreme fringe-left, and closer to being anti-semites than being Jews or peace activists.
        JVP openly supports groups that reject Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state. But JVP doesn’t reject the existence of Arab or Muslim states or any other states. They only single out the Jews. Using standards of criticism/demonization that they ONLY apply to Jews/Israel.
        Therefore, “Jewish Voice For Peace” is an anti-semitic organization.

  7. The far-left doesn’t respect the Jewish state’s right to use democracy to allow their democratic majority to define the state as a Jewish state.
    But the far left DOES respect the right of 20 Arab states to define themselves as Arab and of 50 Muslim states to favor Muslims and Islam.
    The far left endlessly tries to pressure Israel to stop defending itself, while not pressuring Israel’s enemies to agree to peace with Israel.
    The far left criticizes the world’s only Jewish state for giving immigration benefits to Jews, while NOT criticizing 20 Arab states and 50 Muslim states to DISCRIMINATING AGAINST Jews and giving immigration benefits to THEIR majorities.
    So why is anyone surprised that “conventional” anti-semites are steadily being included in far-left/”progressive” events?
    Shouldn’t criticizing Israel for doing exactly what most countries in that region do, yet not criticizing those other countries, be considered anti-semitic?

  8. 1) Anti-semites who promote hate of American Jews.
    2) Anti-semites who promote hate of Israeli Jews.
    Why do leftists reject #1 yet welcome #2?
    Why do leftist/progressives welcome people who think intifada is cool, who makes excuses for Hamas, who single out Jews as being the only people in the Middle East who are evil for having self-determination, etc?

  9. The people who planned and executed the war crimes of 9/11 are not Jewish. They are not Christian. They are not Islamic.
    The people who planned and executed the war crimes of 9/11 are CRIMINALS.
    They worship NO God. They worship ONLY money and power. Some of them call themselves these religions, and in that, as in everything else, they are LIARS who work to cover up their own THEFT and MURDER.

  10. Here is a big problem: The “anti-zionist” groups that protested the 9-11 truther are just as much or even MORE anti-semitic than he is.
    The 9-11 truther promotes hate against SOME Jews in America.
    The leftist anti-zionist “Jews” promote hate against Israeli Jews as a group.
    The 9-11 truther blames 9-11 on a mix of people, INCLUDING “powerful” Jews.
    The leftist anti-zionist “Jews” blame the Israel-Palestinian conflict ENTIRELY on Israelis.
    The 9-11 truther ignores evidence he doesn’t like.
    The leftist anti-zionist “Jews” ignore all the bad things done by Palestinians, ignore all the anti-Jewish bigotry across the entire middle east, ignore terrorism and wars against Israeli Jews.
    The 9-11 truther isn’t actually putting Jewish Americans as a group in harm’s way. Indirectly MAYBE.
    The leftist anti-zionist “Jews” are doing everything they can to make Israel weaker and make Israeli Jews more vulnerable to attack. If they had their way, Israel would merge with Palestinians, Islamic radicals would lead the country, Jews would now be a minority, Israel would be voted out of existence, and millions of Israeli Jews would be at the mercy of Islamists like Hamas who would never, ever protect them.
    The 9-11 truther isn’t actually promoting a boycott of American Jews or a boycott of Jews at all, as far as I can tell.
    The leftist anti-zionist “Jews” promote bigotry and discrimination (BDS) against Israelis. They don’t do this to any of the racist, Jew-hating Arab or Muslim countries. They ONLY do this to Jews/ISrael. They’re anti-semites!
    So why are anti-semitic 9-11 truthers worse than anti-zionist Jews who accept Arab countries and accept Muslim countries yet are doing everything they can to hate and erase the world’s only Jewish state?

  11. same chick?
    http://nonabrooklyn.com/a-food-market-a-food-system-and-a-dream-a-conversation-with-foodshed-market-founder-melissa-ennen/
    “When Melissa Ennen decided to open The Commons, a community and educational center in Boerum Hill, she didn’t just want to host classes and workshops. She wanted to find a way to bring good, sustainably-produced local food into the neighborhood. But she didn’t want to just sell food – she wanted to find a way for locals to meet the people growing and making that food, to learn about how they produce it, and to encourage discussion about the complexities and challenges of trying to create a new local and people-based food system.”
    cant tell if she’s a flake or a conwoman

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