Jews in the Economy and Finance

The Picower/Madoff settlement: Fooling some of the people all of the time…

Basically, my headline The Picower Madoff settlement: A $7.2 Billion Whitewash is proving correct. As I write this, the 5th most popular article on the webzine of influential Jewish periodical The Forward is In New Madoff Filings, Largest Beneficiary of Fraud Was Possibly Unaware of Ponzi Scheme by Josh Nathan-Kazis December 22, 2010

Jeffry Picower, the late investor who earned more than even Bernard Madoff did from the fraudster’s huge Ponzi scheme, has long been accused by the court appointed trustee in the Madoff case of knowing the operation was a fraud. But a new filing by the trustee following his settlement with the Picower estate suggests that Picower may just have been an innocent Madoff victim after all. Read more

The Picower settlement: Racketeering Rewarded

At The Daily Beast Allan Dodds Frank has supplied a valuable perspective on the Picower settlement – although you need to be alert to see it.

Payday for Madoff Victims” (December 18 2010) first of all refutes Barbara Picower’s tendentious assertion:

“I want to underscore the fact that neither the Trustee nor the U.S. Attorney has charged him with any illegal conduct.”

Picower could not be charged for a simple reason — he conveniently died.

Asked about Picower’s role in Madoff’s scheme and whether the settlement cleared Picower’s name, U.S. Attorney Bharara said, “Mr. Picower passed away a year ago and so the question of whether he had a role—as a criminal matter—is now moot.” Bharara refused to say more… Read more

Glenn Beck on George Soros

Glenn Beck has not exactly been a favorite around here (see herehere, and here), but his series on George Soros is intriguing to say the least. Beck has honed in on Soros as the root of all evil, and he has emphasized the point that Soros is Jewish. Beck seems have two main complaints: that Soros is a major funder of the left and that he is a currency manipulator poised to take down the dollar and foment revolution in the US.

Soros is well-known for funding the left, but Beck sees Soros as orchestrating the entire show:“For months, Glenn has been pulling back the structure progressives have worked decades to put in place. Beneath every layer lies one common thread: George Soros.” Beck’s team highlights Soros’ self-image as a messianic figure who believes he is able to change the world in his image: “If truth be known, I carried some rather potent messianic fantasies with me from childhood which I felt I had to control, otherwise I might end up in the loony bin. But when I made my way in the world, I wanted to indulge myself in my fantasies to the extent that I could afford.” Beck’s website shows how Soros funds the left, including, ACORN, Center for American Progress, the Tides Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the National Council of La Raza. Read more

Is the Madoff Scandal Paradigmatic?

The current TOO article by John Graham and me, “Is the Madoff Scandal Paradigmatic?,” reviews 8 books on the Bernie Madoff scandal. From the beginning, there was a pronounced Jewish angle to the media coverage of the scandal—mainly emphasizing that Madoff was a Jew who stole from other Jews. However, this review (for which the lion’s share of the credit goes to Mr. Graham), explores the far greater depth of Jewishness apparent in the incident. Here I review several important themes.

Contrary to the image in the media, the scandal in fact was a large scale transfer of wealth from non-Jews to Jews. The big money that entered the fund beginning in the 1990s was predominantly from non-Jews, and especially from Europe. In the end, according to whistle blower Henry Markopolos,the European losses were substantially more than losses in the United States.” We suggest that the attraction of wealthy, aristocratic Europeans may have been an example of the “court Jew” phenomenon: “For centuries it was customary for aristocratic landowners, particularly in Eastern Europe, to delegate the task of managing the businesses operations on their estates to Jews, sometimes using the same families for generations.”

Madoff succeeded for so long because he had become a classic Jewish rabbi/guru who was idolized as God-like by the Jewish community. The Jewish community regarded Bernie like a messiah. He was spoken of as if godlike.This is a common feature of Jewish social structure generally—and much emphasized in The Culture of Critique. Just as people who questioned the Oedipal Complex were expelled from psychoanalytic societies and labeled as having various character flaws, an Israeli woman who questioned Madoff’s genius was called an “anti-Semite.”

Interestingly, quite a few of Madoff’s Jewish clients seem to have believed that it was a fraud or at least based on illegal activity such as “front-running” (trading ahead of client orders). “Many Madoff accounts thought they were safely benefitting from illegal activity — and did not care.” They seem to have thought of themselves as benefiting from Jewish ethnic networking where there has been a long tradition of failing to report illegal activities of other Jews— an offence known as Mesirah (informing).

Perhaps most explosively, we suggest that Madoff was protected because of the power of the Jewish community:

The Bernard Madoff matter was one about which a significant segment of Jewish America cared very much — some for financial reasons, others, perhaps, because of community pride and loyalty. Challenging this group was well known to be extremely dangerous. As in other matters, they awarded themselves a veto, and they used it — as it happened in this case, to their cost. All in all, the Madoff affair and the cover-up is another indication of Jewish power in America.


For example, Henry Markopolos, in his aptly titled No One Would Listen, comments


In my mind, at least, I was convinced that someone high up at the [Wall Street] Journal had decided it was too dangerous to go after Bernie Madoff. … I was finally beginning to consider the possibility that Bernie Madoff was untouchable — that he was simply too powerful to be brought down.


Madoff was investigated eight times by the SEC, but each investigation was inexplicably stopped. Sen. Charles Schumer seems to have been part of the power structure protecting Madoff. Madoff and his sons maxed out their contributions to Schumer. Schumer phoned the SEC on Madoff’s  behalf,  and he treated Markopolos with incredible rudeness during Senate hearings — not exactly the expected treatment toward someone who was right all along.

What has been portrayed as SEC incompetence now looks quite a bit like corruption. “We submit that the SEC failed to stop Madoff not because it was incompetent, but because it was afraid — of the Jewish Establishment.” It seems likely that even greater corruption was involved in the financial collapse that has been such an ongoing disaster for the country. The fact that Goldman Sachs managed to settle its involvement in one particular deal with a slap on the wrist.

Consistent  with the corruption thesis, it appears that Madoff’s accomplices will get off easy. Amazingly, an article that appeared too late to include in the print version questioned whether anyone will be criminally charged with being an accomplice to the fraud. Bernie is taking the fall all by himself, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if there’s lots of money stashed for his family members.

Perhaps in the back of Madoff’s mind was the idea — possibly the instinct — that after a few years, perhaps in a different country, maybe speaking a different language, his family would live on, possibly with a new name (surname changes are under way among the Madoff kin) and perhaps with some portion of the loot.

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Does Jewish financial misbehavior have anything to do with being Jewish?

As expected, the fraud charges brought against Goldman Sachs by the SEC and now the Senate hearings are producing a lot of anxiety in Jewish quarters. Back in January, Michael Kinsley wrote an article telling us how to think about the Jewish angle in the financial meltdown (“How to Think About: Jewish Bankers”). The question for Kinsley isn’t whether negative qualities of Jewish bankers or the bad behavior of Jewish firms like Goldman have anything to do with being Jewish.

The question is whether anyone who criticizes Goldman is an anti-Semite:

Because Goldman is thought of as a “Jewish” firm, and because it dominates the financial industry, criticism of Goldman, or of bankers generally, is often accused of being anti-Semitic. Commentators including Rush Limbaugh and Maureen Dowd have been so accused. When, if ever, are such accusations fair?”

So Kinsley passes his Geiger Counter over non-Jews like Limbaugh and Dowd and passes judgment on their moral worthiness. Any link between Jewishness and misbehavior is automatically out of bounds for serious discussion: “Certainly any explicit suggestion that Goldman’s alleged misbehavior and its Jewishness are related in any way is anti-Semitic.”

This statement draws on a general reluctance to ascribe negative traits as being reasonably associated with a certain group. But this can easily be seen to be just another example of political-correctness think. What if indeed a particular group is more likely to engage in some sort of bad behavior? For example, J. Philippe Rushton and Glayde Whitney have claimed on the basis of a rather powerful theory and a considerable amount of data that Blacks are prone to criminality and this is true wherever there are Blacks — whether in Africa, North America, South America, or the Caribbean.

If indeed that is true or at least reasonable, then it would also be reasonable to say being Black contributes to the likelihood that a certain group of Blacks are criminals — that a considerable part of the explanation for the criminality of these particular Blacks stems from their group membership. It would certainly not imply that all Blacks or even anywhere near all Blacks are criminals. Just that Blacks are more likely than other groups to be involved in certain kinds of crime — Rushton and Whitney would argue for a strong role of their common genetic ancestry.

Or take a presumably benign example: It’s well known that the Ashkenazi Jewish mean IQ higher than the European mean. If then one finds that Jews are highly overrepresented in a particular high-IQ occupation, say among mathematicians, then it is certainly reasonable to explain this as partly due to the general traits of the group, as writers ranging from Charles Murray, Henry Harpending and Greg Cochran, and I have argued

Can such an argument be made Jewish involvement in financial scandals has something to do with being Jewish? Back in the 1980s a major financial scandal revolved around Michael Milken. Much of the discussion of the Jewish role in this financial scandal centered around the book Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart. Jewish activist Alan Dershowitz called Den of Thievesan “anti-Semitic screed” and attacked a review by Michael M. Thomas in the New York Times Book Review because of his “gratuitous descriptions by religious stereotypes.”  Thomas’s review contained the following passage:

James B. Stewart . . . charts the way through a virtual solar system of peculation, past planets large and small, from a metaphorical Mercury representing the penny-ante takings of Dennis B. Levine’s small fry, past the middling ($10 million in inside-trading profits) Mars of Mr. Levine himself, along the multiple rings of Saturn — Ivan F. Boesky, his confederate Martin A. Siegel of Kidder, Peabody, and Mr. Siegel’s confederate Robert Freeman of Goldman, Sachs — and finally back to great Jupiter: Michael R. Milken, the greedy billion-dollar junk-bond kingdom in which some of the nation’s greatest names in industry and finance would find themselves entrapped and corrupted.

Thomas was attacked as an anti-Semite simply for mentioning so many Jewish names all in one paragraph. His defense was to note that “If I point out that nine out of 10 people involved in street crimes are black, that’s an interesting sociological observation. If I point out that nine out of 10 people involved in securities indictments are Jewish, that is an anti-Semitic slur. I cannot sort out the difference. . . .”

I can’t sort out the difference either. And once again, the current financial meltdown has revealed a large role for Jewish companies and Jewish money managers who engineered the meltdown and profited handsomely from it.

Kinsley acknowledges that Jews predominate on Wall St. and it’s okay to criticize a Jewish firm like Goldman Sachs — but only if there is no mention that Jewishness has anything to do with it.

Sometimes the stereotype about Jews and money takes a harsher form: Jews are greedy, they lie, cheat and steal for money, they have undue influence with the government, which they cultivate and exploit ruthlessly, and so on. In recent weeks, many have said this sort of thing about Goldman Sachs, but with no reference to Jews. Are they all anti-Semites? No. It ought to be possible to criticize Goldman in the harshest possible terms–if you think that’s warranted–without being tarred as an anti-Semite.

So is it possible to frame an argument that bad behavior in the financial realm does indeed have something to do with Jewishness? Note that this is quite different from showing that Jewishness is involved in the creation of culture — the argument of The Culture of Critique. There it was only necessary to show that a movement was dominated by Jews who identified as Jews and saw their work as advancing Jewish interests.

As I see it, the argument has two parts:

1.)    Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy has always had a strong element of ingroup/outgroup thinking. Entirely different moral standards are applicable inside and outside the group. The result is that the Jewish moral universe is particularistic and the attitude toward non-Jews is purely instrumental — aimed at maximizing personal benefit with no moral concerns about the consequences to non-Jews. For example, a common pattern in traditional societies was that Jews allied themselves with exploitative non-Jewish elites.

The evolutionary aspects of this situation are obvious. Jews were the ideal intermediary for any exploitative elite precisely because their interests, as a genetically segregated group, were maximally divergent from those of the exploited population. Such individuals are expected to have maximal loyalty to the rulers and minimal concerns about behaving in a purely instrumental manner, including exploitation, toward the rest of the population. (A People that Shall Dwell Alone, Ch. 5)

2.)    One would then have to show that actual Jewish behavior reflected the double moral standard that is ubiquitous in Jewish religious writing. There is in fact a long history of anti-Jewish attitudes focused around the charge that Jews are misanthropes with negative personality traits who are only too willing to exploit non-Jews. This history is summarized in Ch. 2 of Separation and Its Discontents, beginning with the famous quote from Tacitus, “Among themselves they are inflexibly honest and ever ready to show compassion, though they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies.” Among the more illustrious observers are the following (see here for the complete passage, p. 46 ff):

  • Immanual Kant: Jews are “a nation of usurers . . . outwitting the people amongst whom they find shelter. . . . They make the slogan ‘let the buyer beware’ their highest principle in dealing with us.”
  • Economic historian Werner Sombart: “With Jews [a Jew] will scrupulously see to it that he has just weights and a just measure; but as for his dealings with non-Jews, his conscience will be at ease even though he may obtain an unfair advantage.”
  • Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz: “[The  Polish Jew] took a delight in cheating and overreaching, which gave him a sort of joy of victory. But his own people he could not treat in this way: they were as knowing as he. It was the non-Jew who, to his loss, felt the consequences of the Talmudically trained mind of the Polish Jew.”
  • Sociologist Max Weber: “As a pariah people, [Jews] retained the double standard of morals which is characteristic of primordial economic practice in all communities: What is prohibited in relation to one’s brothers is permitted in relation to strangers.”
  • Zionist Theodor Herzl: Anti-Semitism is “an understandable reaction to Jewish defects” brought about ultimately by gentile persecution: Jews had been educated to be “leeches” who possessed “frightful financial power”; they were “a money-worshipping people incapable of understanding that a man can act out of other motives than money.”
  • Edward A. Ross: “The authorities complain that the East European Hebrews feel no reverence for law as such and are willing to break any ordinance they find in their way. . . . The insurance companies scan a Jewish fire risk more closely than any other. Credit men say the Jewish merchant is often “slippery” and will “fail” in order to get rid of his debts. For lying the immigrant has a very bad reputation. In the North End of Boston “the readiness of the Jews to commit perjury has passed into a proverb.”

Edmund Connelly has reviewed the work of two academic historians, Paul Johnson (A History of the Jews) and Albert Lindemann (Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews), who “have shown that this pattern of Jewish deception and fraud in pursuit of wealth and its legitimacy within the Jewish community have a long history.”

The key point is the legitimacy of fraud within the Jewish community. Successful fraudsters are not shunned but rather become pillars of the  community:

Reflecting the legitimacy of white collar crime in the wider Jewish community in the contemporary world, [Michael] Milken is a pillar of the Jewish community in Los Angeles and a major donor to Jewish causes. Indeed, this is part of a pattern: Ivan Boesky donated $20 million to the library at the Jewish Theological Seminary. And the notorious Marc Rich has donated millions of dollars to a wide range of Jewish causes, including Birthright Israel, a program designed to increase Jewish identification among young Jews. The list of people supporting Rich’s pardon by Bill Clinton was “a virtual Who’s Who of Israeli society and Jewish philanthropy.” A rabbi concerned about the ethics of these practices notes, “it is a rare Jewish organization that thinks carefully about the source of a donor’s money. … The dangerous thing is not that people make moral mistakes, but that we don’t talk about it.”

The idea is that the Jewish financial elite sees the non-Jewish world in instrumental terms — as objects with no moral value. As I noted earlier,

there is a strong suggestion that the financial elite behaved much more like an organized crime syndicate than as an elite with a sense of civic responsibility or commitment to the long term viability of the society. Whereas organized crime stems from the lower levels of society, this meltdown was accomplished at the very pinnacle of society — the Ivy League grads …, the wealthy financial firms and investment rating agencies, the strong connections with government that facilitated the bailout and failed to provide scrutiny while it was happening. It seems highly doubtful that all this would have happened with the former WASP elite.

In psychological terms, these Jews are behaving in a sociopathic manner toward the non-Jewish world. That is, they have no concern for the moral consequences of their actions — no empathy or concern for victims. Recent neuroscience data shows that people are quite capable of having a great deal of empathy and concern for people in their ingroup while having no empathy at all toward outsiders, especially if they are highly ethnocentric. This implies that a strongly identified Jew could be the epitome of a well-socialized, empathic group member when he is among Jews, but treat the rest of the world in a cold and calculating manner and have no remorse or empathy for the victims.

Nor would such a person have any concerns about the long-term future of the society he lives in. Richard Spencer discusses the fact that so many of our politicians are sociopaths (my favorite example is Winston Churchill), noting that “Aristocrats governed with a healthy, long-term goal in mind: they wanted their great grandchildren to inherit a prosperous, powerful realm.”

It can safely be asserted that concerns about the long-term health of the society are not uppermost in the minds of our financial elite.

Concerns that Wall Street is socially irresponsible are widespread now. Just last week I saw CNBC reporter David Faber asking Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs whether Wall Street was good for America. Is it serving any positive social function? — with the implication that it’s at least reasonable to think it isn’t. Such a question would have been inconceivable a couple years ago. Rather than producing any tangible goods or allocating financing in a way that benefits good businesses, Matt Taibbi’s analogy seems to hit home:  “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

As Kinsley notes, this analogy was immediately deemed anti-Semitic by the usual thought police: “This sentence, many have charged, goes beyond stereotypes about Jews and money, touches other classic anti-Semitic themes about Jews as foreign or inhuman elements poisoning humanity and society, and—to some critics—even seems to reference the notorious ‘blood libel’ that Jews use the blood of Christian babies to make matzoh.”

It also conjures up a strong image of economic parasitism, another ancient anti-Jewish theme: the financial sector as not producing products or wealth, but extracting wealth to the detriment of the society as a whole.

The problem for Kinsley and like-minded people is trying to seriously rebut the claim that the socially destructive behavior of the  predominantly Jewish financial elite does in fact fit a strong historic pattern of Jewish ethical behavior vis á vis the non-Jewish society — behavior that is well grounded in Jewish religious ethics.

In any case, it is a very troubling sign indeed for the  US that the financial sector is vastly outpacing the rest of the economy in corporate earnings as well as in executive compensation — especially when it’s being run by a group of people who have sociopathic attitudes toward non-Jewish America.

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James Howard Kunstler Worries about Jewish Behavior

I’ve written before that I get a kick out of the writing of blogger and author James Howard Kunstler. And I love to observe how he twists and turns worrying that the goyim his fellow Jews are mocking and fleecing will finally wake up and take a swat at their tormentors.

A week ago, April 19th, he really let his fears of the goyim show, so much so that I began a blog about it. As things do, a few days led to a week and now we have another Kunstler blog. And he continues to sweat about “the white trash elements” that are catching on to what slick city Jews are doing to America.

For instance, he reported last week that a fellow named Litowitz ran a scam that defrauded, among others, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. I’ll let readers work out the ethnic trappings of that story for themselves.

Now, here’s what I really like. First, Kunstler will outline an obvious problem:

How is it not a racket to deliberately and systematically construct investments designed to fail so you can collect what amounts to insurance against them — and then to sell those financial instruments to customers without telling them that these investments were engineered to blow up? At the very least it amounts to a failure to disclose material information, which is the basis for distinguishing illegality. More to the point, it almost certainly amounts to prosecutable criminal fraud and insider trading.

Then he’ll allude to the presence of so many of his fellow Jews involved in the schemes, someone like former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who then went on to head Citicorp, which lost 70% of its value under Rubin. As a consequence, Kunstler reports, Mr. Rubin was paid $17 million in 2008 and received $33 million in stock options.

This week his column may be even more revealing. He builds his tale on a phrase uttered by then-President George W. Bush, “This sucker could go down.” Kunstler parses the meaning of the phrase, concluding that it means the whole schmeer, this “rather creaky vessel we call modern civilization.”

And he again points the blame at the Jews (well, it’s mostly Jews): “a banking system that is running a hostage-and-ransom racket on civilization.”

Allow Kunstler to expand in his own words:

This sucker is going down because the train of bankruptcies underway has a remorseless self-reinforcing power to provoke more and more bankruptcies at every stop along the line as every promise to pay is welshed on. The mortgages will not be paid and securities will not pay their investors and the banks will choke on the bad paper promises in their vaults and the pension funds will not pay their beneficiaries and the states and counties and municipalities will go broke and not pay their employees and creditors, and the federal government will not be able to “print” new money in sufficient quantities fast enough to compensate for all the money not being paid up-and-down the line… and one morning we will wake up and discover that all those promises to pay were sham promises based on no productive activity whatsoever… and that will be a sad day. Perhaps the Dow Jones Industrial Average will hit 35,000 on that day.

And make no mistake; Kunstler knows it is members of his Tribe, whom he blandly and ineffectually tries to attack: “How come no political figure of any stripe has called for the resignation of Summers, Rubin, Gensler and other Goldman Sachs ‘sleepers’ infesting high levels of government.”

Next, according to script, he turns his wary eye on the victims of all these high-level scams, and he describes those victims in his typical disdainful way:

Animosities brewing as they are among the white trash elements of the country, I just hope this sucker doesn’t resolve into an ugly bout of attempted ethnic cleansing. Certainly Obama’s racial make-up has inspired a revival of the Ku Klux spirit around the NASCAR ovals. I’m sincerely worried that the misdeeds of people name Blankfein, Rubin, and Madoff could provoke a red-white-and-blue pogrom.

Ah yes,  the infamous “cornporn Nazis” of Kunstler’s overactive imagination. And he’s right to bring up ethnic cleansing, except that he’s doing the typical Jewish tactic of projecting Jewish intentions and actions onto the actual victims. As in the Communist Soviet Union, it is ethnic White Christians who are enduring the attempted ethnic cleansing. Honestly, how many American Jews have even been physically smacked around because they are Jews? Meanwhile, the Whites who built the country are being dispossessed by massive non-White immigration and other tactics.

Still, I give Kunstler credit for consistently bringing up Jewish roles in this earth-shattering financial meltdown. It’s far more than we get from the dying Mainstream Media.

For instance, the other day I read in my newspaper a review of a new book about the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In vain did I search for even a code word about Jews. Nothing. Yet everyone even remotely connected to Wall Street knows that Lehman was a venerable old Jewish firm.

Connie Bruck and James B. Stewart wrote about Lehman’s role in the financial shenanigans of the 1980s in The Predators’ Ball and Den of Thieves, respectively. Jewish issues were always just below the surface, especially because Michael Milken was the central figure. In that case,

the mere mention of Milken and his cronies with all those Jewish names was enough to ignite a major uproar complete with accusations of anti-Semitism. Jewish activist Alan Dershowitz [who is now defending Goldman Sachs: “‘fraud’ is such a generic, vague accusation”] was center stage, even purchasing a full page ad in the New York Times (at a cost of $450,000) and ads in three other newspapers.

To get an idea of  how innocuous the references to Jews were during the Milken scandal, the following is the offending paragraph from a review of James B. Stewart’s Den of Thieves by Michael M. Thomas in the New York Times Book Review:

James B. Stewart . . . charts the way through a virtual solar system of peculation, past planets large and small, from a metaphorical Mercury representing the penny-ante takings of Dennis B. Levine’s small fry, past the middling ($10 million in inside-trading profits) Mars of Mr. Levine himself, along the multiple rings of Saturn — Ivan F. Boesky, his confederate Martin A. Siegel of Kidder, Peabody, and Mr. Siegel’s confederate Robert Freeman of Goldman, Sachs — and finally back to great Jupiter: Michael R. Milken, the greedy billion-dollar junk-bond kingdom in which some of the nation’s greatest names in industry and finance would find themselves entrapped and corrupted.

The lesson is that reviewers shouldn’t even mention Jewish names when writing about financial scandals.

The book mentioned above about Lehman Brothers is The Devil’s Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High-Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers by Vicky Ward Wiley. For what it’s worth, the reviewer used a pseudonym. And as I said, there was no allusion to Jewish ethnicity, unless this opinion by the reviewer counts: “It’s tempting to conclude that what we’re dealing with here is not a cadre of crafty, evil wizards, but simply a bunch of petty, vicious schmucks.” Does that count as exposing Jewish involvement?

I don’t plan on reading these books. I did my homework in the 80s and 90s on this topic, so now it is the turn of others. Thus, I hope readers can let us know what is and isn’t useful in these new books. Kunstler will give us some hints, but it’s up to us to do the real work.

Edmund Connelly (email him) is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.

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Jews Embarrassed by Jews: Slumlords — and Goldman Sachs

Jill Jacobs writing in the Forward presents an interesting comment on Jewish ethics  (When the Slumlords Are Us”). She essentially corroborates Edmund Connelly’s work on “The Culture of Deceit”:  Not only are sharp business practices common among religious Jews, they are encouraged in the sense that Jews with a well-deserved reputation for unethical business behavior are welcomed into the highest reaches of the Jewish community: “Some of these offending landlords have more than Jewish names. At least a couple have been accorded positions of leadership and prominence in their Jewish communities because of the money they give to Jewish groups and causes.”

That’s the important point. It’s certainly the case that all religions have their bad apples. But with Judaism, being a bad apple is quite compatible with being a pillar of the community, as long as you continue to donate generously to communal causes.

Because she has such a strong sense of being Jewish, she feels personally embarrassed because of the behavior of her landlord: “One day, the landlord himself dropped by the building. I shuddered when I saw his long black coat, black hat and bushy beard. Would the other tenants, mostly Latino families, think that all Jews treated others with such neglect?”

Yes, they probably would. That’s how human stereotyping works. The fact is that most people who develop negative attitudes about Jews probably do so as a result of personal interactions with Jews, not by delving into Jewish history or ruminating on the causes of our current malaise. Jacobs notes that she could talk all she wanted about lofty Jewish ethical principles, but it didn’t do much good when reality was so at odds with the lofty theory:

Inevitably, heartbreakingly, someone would say to me, “Jill, you’re telling us that Judaism says all of these great things about how landlords should treat their tenants. So why is it that my landlord, a religious Jew, won’t turn on the heat?” Or worse: “You’re the first Jew I’ve ever met who’s not a slumlord.”

Anti-Semitism among Blacks has often been the result of similar negative personal experiences during the period when Jews owned the stores and apartment buildings in Black communities. Jews have mainly moved on to higher callings than running stores and apartments in Black areas, their places taken by newer arrivals. Similarly, a survey conducted by the Jewish Labor Committee in 1945 indicated that the attitudes of working class Americans were shaped by actual experience with Jews. They saw

the Jew as a cheating storekeeper, a merciless landlord or rental agent, an unscrupulous pawn-broker, or an installment salesman and insurance collector who will take away the collateral or let the insurance lapse at the first delinquency. To this is added the idea that the Jews own all business and that at least most Jews are in business. All this is so because the Jews are money-crazy, selfish, grabby, take advantage of others, cheat, chisel, lie, are ruthless, unscrupulous, and so on. (See here, p. 50).

Jacobs recounts some attempts to make such unethical behavior unaccaptable within the Jewish community. She mentions some successes, but such efforts are up against the particularist, ingroup morality that has always characterized Jewish behavior and is clearly spelled out in Jewish religious writing: One moral standard within the group, and a completely different standard outside the group. Beginning with the Enlightenment, Jews put in a great deal of intellectual work inventing a universalist ethics for Judaism as a “light unto the nations” — a moral exemplar for the rest of humanity. But it was always a sham and continues to be so in the contemporary world. As reported by Haaretz, just recently, a rabbi on the West Bank wrote about how it’s permissible for Jews to kill pretty much any non-Jew even if they are not responsible for threats to Jews:

“It is permissable to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” he wrote, adding: “If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments — because we care about the commandments — there is nothing wrong with the murder.”

Several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, have recommended the book to their students and followers.

The result of this Judeocentric ethics is that, apart from the efforts of Ms. Jacobs, there is far more concern about molding public perceptions than about altering Jewish behavior. This came up with the Bernie Madoff affair:

As in the [Michael] Milken case, the default  strategy is to proscribe any mention that a person like Madoff, who feeds into all the negative Jewish stereotypes, is Jewish. Indeed, some voices within the Jewish community are bemoaning the fact that Madoff’s Jewishness is so central to the media coverage. For example, in a letter to the New York Times, David A. Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee wrote, “Yes, he is Jewish. We get it. But was this relevant to his being arrested for cheating investors, or so key to his evolution as a businessman that it needed to be hammered home again and again?”

It’s well known that when the financial meltdown first hit, the ADL was concerned about “a dramatic upsurge” in anti-Jewish messages on Internet discussion boards devoted to finance and the economy in reaction to the huge bailout of Wall Street. The ADL press release is predictable in its attempt to characterize such outbursts as irrational hatred against Jews: Abe Foxman complained darkly that in times of economic downturns, “The age-old canards [the ADL’s favorite word is ‘canard’] about Jews and money are always just beneath the surface.”

The recent indictment of Goldman Sachs for security fraud is doubtless causing similar angst in Jewish circles. Yesterday’s front page headline in the LA Times screamed “E-mails show Goldman traders rushed to bet against the mortgage market as crisis spread.” [Addendum, headline for 4/27, print edition: Senate Evidence Mounts against Goldman; online: Goldman Played Key Role in Mortgage Meltdown, Senate Investigators Say] Based on documents released prior to Senate hearings this week, the article and the impending Senate hearings are sure to once again place Goldman and  Jewishness front and center in the public’s mind as the main villain in the meltdown — whether this is deserved or not. After all, despite the fact that any mention of the Jewishness of the key figures is verboten in the MSM, Goldman Sachs is an icon of Jewish financial power. Everyone knows that its basically a Jewish firm. It certainly doesn’t help that Lloyd Blankfein heads Goldman and is its publicly visible face. Nor does it help that the deal that brought the charges netted the firm of another Jew, John Paulson, $1 billion. (Paulson is worth $12 billion and is #45 on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans.)

Nor does it help that another firm that is being prominently mentioned as engaging in practices that exacerbated the mortgage meltdown is Magnetar whose principals, including founder Alec Litowitz, are all Jewish.  According to this article, Magnetar actively sought to include the worst possible mortgages into its CDO’s, then managed to get them rated as AAA investments, and then bet massively against them, leaving large financial institutions holding the bag.

Given the enormity of the repercussions of the economic crisis, it is only natural to seek the culprits. The fact that Goldman is  the most prominently featured firm and that other Jews also profited so greatly from the crisis while engaging in questionable practices will naturally feed into the stereotype of Jewish financial perfidy — a stereotype that goes back at least to the 19th century. (See Edmund Connelly’s discussion of Albert Lindemann’s historical research.)

But one thing we can be sure of, if anyone breathes a mention of Jewish involvement in the financial collapse in the mainstream media, the ADL will come out with its guns blazing. Truth is no defense.