"The Social Network"

Is The Social Network a  Jewish movie and, if so, what can we make of it? Of course, if Alan Dershowitz had his way, such a question is completely off limits. The movie is simply a movie written by a screen writer who happens to be Jewish (Aaron Sorkin) about people, some of whom happen to be Jewish. End of story.

That seems to be the take of the vast majority of critics if Wikipedia’s summary is any indication. Writing in the New York Times, David Brooks, who is about as obsessively Jewish as Dershowitz, does see a Jewish message, but you have to read between the lines: Mark Zuckerberg is the symbol of the new Harvard, smart and driven to succeed (i.e., Jewish), but without social or moral graces. “It’s not that he’s a bad person. He’s just never been house-trained. He’s been raised in a culture reticent to talk about social and moral conduct.” And he compares Zuckerberg to the Jews who elbowed out the WASPs and invented their version of Hollywood: “Immigrant Hollywood directors made hyperpatriotic movies that defined American life but found after fame and fortune they were still outsiders. In this movie, Zuckerberg designs a fabulous social network, but still has his reciprocity problem. He is still afflicted by his anhedonic self-consciousness, his failure to communicate, his inability to lose himself in the throngs at a party or the capacity to deserve the love he craves.”

Brooks’ version presents Jews as they want to be seen—smart and driven, sweeping away the bad old WASP Harvard, their minor blemishes deriving from a culture “reticent to talk about social and moral conduct.” No mention of discrimination against Whites and in favor of Jews in admissions to elite universities. And Brooks would be the last person to produce a serious discussion of the issue of how Jewish culture contributes to lapses in moral conduct.

One obvious subtext is Jewish ethnic networking. The idea for developing a social networking site at Harvard came from the Winklevoss twins and their Indian business partner. The Winklevosses are presented as quintessential Aryans—right out of central casting for a movie on the SS. But when they approach the Zuckerberg character about doing the technical work on the site, Zuckerberg steals their idea,  ditches the Aryans, and forms a partnership with two Jews, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskowitz. In the end, the Winklevosses settled for $65 million.

The other moral lapse is when Zuckerberg screws his best friend Saverin out of his share of the company—an obvious moral failing that was eventually settled for $1 billion. Saverin was taken in by assuming that his friend would not cheat him, effectively signing away his share of the company without knowing it.  Granted Zuckerberg didn’t like what Saverin was doing for the business, but there was an obvious moral failing with how Zuckerberg handled it.

Is there a Jewish story to what Zuckerberg did to the Winklevosses? The reality is that there is a long tradition enshrined in canonical Jewish texts where Jews who commit fraud  or other dishonesty against non-Jews are accepted in the Jewish community, particularly if they are generous to Jewish charities. Certainly not all Jews would have done what Zuckerberg did, but his actions fit into a pattern  of behavior that is tolerated within the Jewish community.

So far, Zuckerberg has attempted to rehabilitate himself by a $100 million gift to the Newark Public Schools. There’s a scene in the movie where Bill Gates gives a talk at Harvard and mentions the possibility that someone in the audience could be the next Bill Gates. Zuckerberg clearly fills the bill in the sense that, like Gates, he is quite adept at flushing his money down the toilet: Test scores are “among the lowest in New Jersey” despite 15 years of state control of the system.

Is there a Jewish story in what Zuckerberg did to Saverin? Like the Jewish victims of Bernie Madoff, Saverin relied on his sense that a fellow Jew would not cheat him. But Saverin got screwed anyway.

This should put Zuckerberg into the lowest level of Jewish hell. So far I haven’t seen any attempt to make it up to the Jews. I think a major contribution to the ADL or AIPAC is in order.

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