Throughout history, the power and influence of the Jewish Lobby has been legendary. This power in turn derives not from political might, nor from popular support, nor from moral rectitude, nor from God. It is, simply, the power of money. The wealthy have always held disproportionate influence in their societies, typically to the benefit of individuals or their families. But when a distinct ethnic minority works more or less collectively, with great wealth behind them then that minority can exercise massively disproportionate power. This power is amplified by Jewish power deriving from ownership of media in the media age, their position as creators of media content (here, p. lvi), and their influence on elite culture, particularly in the academic world.
Too often, though, one reads fulminations on the “rich Jews” without knowing the history and without any facts or details behind it. My intent in this short essay is to provide some factual data, and to draw some plausible conclusions. The situation is, I think, more extreme than many have assumed.
As usual, a bit of history is helpful in order to establish the context for the present day (see also Andrew Joyce, e.g., here, and here). The earliest connection between Jews, money, and power seems to come from Cicero, around 59 BC. His speech Pro Flacco offers a defense of a Roman propraetor in Asia by the name of L. V. Flaccus who was charged with embezzling Jewish gold shipments destined for Jerusalem. (Recall that Rome conquered Judea just some four years prior.) Cicero begins with a telling statement:
You know what a big crowd it is, how they stick together, how influential they are in informal assemblies. So I will speak in a low voice so that only the jurors may hear; for those are not wanting who would incite them against me and against every respectable man.
Cicero is clearly mocking the Jews, but their power must have been well-known by that point or else his jibe would be pointless. He proceeds to give a rousing defense, citing Flacco’s “act of firmness, to defy the crowd of Jews” and their “attempt to fix odium on him.”
A second early allusion to Jewish wealth comes from Emperor Claudius in his third edict of 41 AD. Addressing civil unrest in Alexandria, Claudius singles out the Jews, who live “in a city which is not their own.” “They possess an abundance of all good things” but abuse their wealth by continuing to oppose local authorities and sowing general discord. In a sense, writes Claudius, the Jews could be blamed “for fomenting a general plague which infests the whole world.”
Then in 100 AD we have the well-known critique by Tacitus, in his Histories. Amidst a discussion of “the race of men hateful to the gods”—a people who are “base and abominable,” as well as “depraved”—he remarks that the Diaspora Jews, “the worst rascals among other people,” have worked relentlessly to send “tribute and contributions to Jerusalem, thereby increasing the wealth of the Jews.” It’s clear that this wealth was used for pernicious ends.
Around the year 220, Cassius Dio wrote his Roman History in which he describes the second and third Jewish uprisings, of 115 and 132 AD, respectively. Of the latter event, Dio explains that “Jews everywhere were showing signs of hostility to the Romans.” And they were evidently able to use their wealth to bribe others into coming to their aid: “many nations, too, were joining them through eagerness for gain.” Clearly it must have taken considerable wealth to pay “many nations” to fight at their side. And evidently the Jews succeeded in drawing in a multitude of others: “the whole earth, one might almost say, was being stirred up over the matter.”
Though they would lose in that uprising, the Jews managed to regroup and reassert their power—a power that had become legendary by 300 AD. It was at this time that Justin the Historian wrote his lengthy treatise Historiarum Philippicarum. Book 36 addresses the ignoble origin of the Jewish people and explains the growth and cohesiveness of this singular tribe. Their pragmatic theology merged religion with politics in a way that proved to be highly successful; as a result, “it is almost incredible how powerful they became.”
Powerful, indeed. Around 420, the Roman poet Rutilius Namatianus could write, in his De redito suo, of the Jews’ ability, despite their being formally defeated by the Romans, to continue to exercise a dominating influence: “’tis their own conquerors that a conquered race keeps down.”
Middle Ages to the Present
After the collapse of Rome and during the early rise of the Church, Jews continued to amass wealth and exercise power. We know this because they, as a small minority, still had the power to influence rulers throughout Europe. Charlemagne’s son Louis the Pious (778–840), emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, notably catered to the Jews, enacting a charter of privilege for them. This was a pragmatic move because, as Bacharach explains, Jews of that time were “militant, aggressive, and powerful.”
Much of their power and wealth derived from usury, which accelerated during the early Renaissance. By the time of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, Pope Innocent III was prepared to enact canons targeting Jewish usury. “The more the Christians are restrained from the practice of usury, the more are they oppressed in this matter by the treachery of the Jews…” (Canon 67). Not being subject to Christian moral restrictions, the Jews dominated finance and lending at interest, profiting immensely. This situation drew a rebuke from Thomas Aquinas: “It would be better for [royalty] to compel Jews to work for a living…than to allow them to live in idleness and grow rich by usury.” It was still a problem for the Church 300 years later, as Martin Luther felt compelled to comment critically, calling the Jews “thieves and robbers” who profit “by means of their accursed usury.”
The secular world also took note of Jewish wealth and power. As early as 1798, German philosopher Immanuel Kant could make this surprising assessment: “the wealth of the Jews…apparently exceeds per capita that of any other nation at the present time.” In 1823, Lord Byron’s poem “The Age of Bronze” remarked on the fact that “all states, all things, all sovereigns they control.” Indeed: “’Tis gold, not steel, that rears the conqueror’s arch.” In 1843, Bruno Bauer wrote that “The Jew…determines the fate of the whole [Austrian] Empire by his financial power. The Jew…decides the destiny of Europe.” And perhaps more than Europe. In an essay of 1860, Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked on Jewish toughness, brought on by years of persecution and suffering: “The sufferance which is the badge of the Jew, has made him, in these days, the ruler of the rulers of the earth.” In 1880, Laurent Oliphant could write of the Jews’ “financial operations of the largest scale.” “Owing to the financial, political, and commercial importance to which the Jews have now attained,” they have become an indispensible ally in any future conflict. A decade later Goldwin Smith confirmed this view: “Judaism is now [as of 1894] the great financial power of Europe, that is, it is the greatest power of all.”
It was around this time that a French journalist named Edouard Drumont published a large and relatively influential book titled Jewish France (1885). Here he made a shocking and frankly unbelievable claim: “Jews possess half of the capital in the world.” Commenting specifically on France, he noted that the total wealth of that nation was around 150 billion francs, “of which the Jews possess at least 80 billion”—that is, slightly more than half. One is taken aback at such claims; ‘impossible,’ we say. Obviously Drumont was somehow mistaken.
Or perhaps not. Consider the present-day situation in the United States. Of the 10 richest Americans, five (50%) are Jews: Mark Zuckerberg ($72B), Larry Page ($60B), Sergey Brin ($59B), Larry Ellison ($54B), and Michael Bloomberg ($50B). Most of this money comes from the high-tech industry: Facebook (Zuckerberg), Oracle (Ellison), and Google (Page and Brin).
Of the 50 richest Americans, at least 27 (54%) are Jews. In addition to the above five, we have S. Adelson, S. Ballmer, M. Dell, L. Blavatnik, C. Icahn, D. Moskovitz, D. Bren, R. Murdoch (likely part Jewish), J. Simons, L. Lauder, E. Schmidt, S. Cohen, C. Ergen, S. Schwarzman, R. Perelman, D. Newhouse, D. Tepper, G. Kaiser, M. Arison, J. Koum, S. Ross, and C. Cook. Technically, this list should also include George Soros, whose net worth was around $26 billion until he ‘donated’ $18 billion to his own charity in early 2018. The combined wealth of these 27 individuals comes to roughly $635 billion. Note: If Jews were proportionately represented among the top 50, there would be one individual on this list; instead, there are 27.
Or take another measure of wealth, CEO income. Among the 10 highest-paid American CEOs, four (40%) are Jews: Leslie Moonves (CBS), Nicholas Howley (TransDigm), Jeff Bewkes (Warner), and Stephen Kaufer (TripAdvisor). Among the top 35, no less than 19 (54%) are Jews; in addition to the above four are D. Zaslav, S. Catz, A. Bousbib, R. Iger, M. Rothblatt, S. Wynn, M. Grossman, J. Sapan, B. Jellison, R. Kotick, J. Dimon, L. Fink, B. Roberts, L. Schleifer, and S. Adelson.
Thus, whether looking at total assets or income, data shows that, in America, Jews in fact own or control about half of the wealth—at least among the wealthiest elite. These people are the movers and shakers of our political process, and if the political situation was perceived by Jews as a crisis, the amount of money that would be poured into the political process is almost beyond comprehension.
Let’s draw a plausible inference. If Jews control around half of all wealth at the top, it is reasonable to infer that they may hold a similar share throughout the wealth hierarchy—at least among, say, the top 20% of wealth-holders, who collectively own more than 90% of all household wealth in the US. At any rate, the following is an attempt to use that inference to estimate total Jewish wealth in the U.S.
So, how much money is this? In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that the total assets of all private households in the US hit $100 trillion for the first time ever. If American Jews own or control half of this, then it comes to some $50 trillion.
Now, this demands a moment of reflection. If Drumont’s numbers were shocking, this one is absolutely jaw-dropping. Think of it: American Jews possessing $50 trillion—or for those numerically challenged readers, 50,000 billion dollars. If the true numbers are anything close to this, perform this thought experiment: Think of how much power one man with one billion dollars possesses; now consider the equivalent of 50,000 such individuals, working more or less in unison. That’s the financial power of American Jewry.
Take a specific example. Tom Steyer is typical of a middling Jewish billionaire, with net assets of merely some $1.5 billion. But he is exceptionally active in the political scene, as anyone who has been following politics knows. Steyer is a top donor for the Democrats, and is leading the national charge to impeach Trump. In 2018 it was announced that he would spend $110 million “to redefine the Democrats”—to his liking, of course. This made him “the largest single source of campaign cash on the left,” and put him on the road “to create a parallel party structure” of his own. If one minor but motivated billionaire can do this, think of what the equivalent of 50,000 billionaires can do.
Of course, there are nowhere near that many American billionaires. In fact, the total number (Jews and non-Jews combined) was recently estimated by Forbes to be just 585. If the above analysis is roughly correct, around 290 of these are Jews. Their total wealth would then be about $1.5 trillion.
We can press a bit further. Depending on how we define them, there are something like 6 million Jewish Americans. These 6 million therefore control, on average, about $8 million per person—$8 million for every Jewish man, woman, and child. A typical family of four would thus own about $32 million. Not a bad living.
And then consider the Jewish “1%”, which comes to about 60,000 individuals. If the same rough distribution holds among them as among the public at large, then this top 1% owns about 35% of total Jewish wealth. Thus, the top 60,000 Jews would own about $18 trillion. The remaining $32 trillion would therefore be divided amongst the other 5,940,000 Jewish Americans, yielding a still mind-boggling more than $5 million per person.
Some Troubling Questions
At this point, a whole variety of further questions arise: Apart from the named individuals, who else pulls the strings on all this wealth? As I said, the top 27 only account for slightly more than half a trillion dollars. The top 290 richest Jews own around $1.5 trillion. And the top 60,000, around $18 trillion. Who are these people? Apart from the handful at the very top, can we even begin to know who the other leading individuals are?
And what form is this wealth in? Cash? Stocks? Real estate? Precious metals? (Do Jews still hoard gold?) All of the above, no doubt. But where is the cash? Which stocks? Which real estate? Foreign or domestic?
And then the larger questions: What, if anything, can be done about this? Simply on the face of it, it seems grossly unjust for, say, 60,000 Jewish Americans to own around $18 trillion in assets. Especially when the bottom half of Americans—about 160 million people—own a combined total of about $0.3 trillion. And when the bottom 25% of Americans—around 80 million people—have a negative net worth, i.e., more debt than assets. This is not an accident, and it’s not just bad luck. The wealth distribution system in America is designed to achieve this outcome, and Jews earn a hugely disproportionate benefit from it.
What could be done to ensure a more just allocation of national wealth? In the old days, circa 100 AD, Roman authorities instituted a fiscus Judaicus, a ‘Jew tax,’ precisely to offset the extra cost burden placed on society by Jews. Dare we suggest reinstating such a thing? A few trillion dollars could go a long way to right the wrongs of modern society.
Unrealistic, you say. Perhaps. But it has to start somewhere. Someone needs to raise these possibilities in print, in public, in order to begin the conversation. Stranger things have happened in the past. Stranger things will surely happen in the future.
Thomas Dalton, PhD, is author of Debating the Holocaust (2015) and The Holocaust: An Introduction (2016).
 Early Medieval Jewish Policy and Western Europe (1977), p. 104.
 De regimine judaeorum, 81-88.
 On the Jews and Their Lies, p. 242.
 Anthropology (1798/1978), p. 102.
 Cited in Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” The Marx-Engels Reader, 1978, p. 49.
 “Fate”, in Conduct of Life (1860).
 The Land of Gilead (1880), p. 503.
 Essays on the Questions of the Day (1894), p. 260.
 In The Jew in the Modern World (Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, eds.), 2011, p. 315.
 Some claim that the single richest man, Jeff Bezos of Amazon ($156B), is either wholly- or part-Jewish, although this seems to be unsubstantiated. But Amazon does seem to regularly defend Jewish interests, as in their censorship of books that challenge the Holocaust narrative, and in their illegal blockade of alternate translations of Mein Kampf. And he retained Jewish chief editor Martin Baron when he bought the Washington Post.
 Data from Bloomberg Billionaires Index, accessed August 2018.
 According to the New York Times (25 May 2018).
 Moonves has of course since been fired for sexual harassment claims against him.
 There is some evidence that the Jewish percentage declines as we consider the broader pool of wealth. In 2009, Steve Sailer estimated that, of the 400 richest Americans, around one-third were Jewish. But this is a 10-year-old analysis, and I am not aware of any more recent assessment. In fact the proportion of wealthy Jews may well have increased since then.