Haaretz: “The Link Between Jews and Money Is No Longer Taboo”

I am currently compiling a list of everything I was taught about money growing up such as:

* Money is hard to get and easy to lose.
* The more money you have, the more problems.
* The more stuff you have, the more that can go wrong.
* The more high tech, the more complicated and expensive the problems.
* You get nothing for nothing and very little for sixpence.

Suffice to say, attitudes to money are different among Jews than among Protestants. One thing I love about Judaism and Jews is that they are relaxed about the natural passions. Torah takes it for granted that people want money, sex, power, prestige, fame, honor and the like and it simply seeks to channel those drives towards good ends. When Jimmy Carter said he lusted in his heart, Protestants were traumatized and Jews yawned (Dennis Prager).

Steve Sailer blogs:

From Haaretz in Israel:

Opinion: The Link Between Jews and Money Is No Longer Taboo

After years of focusing on anti-Semitism, more and more historians are daring to deal with a subject long considered untouchable

Ofri Ilany Feb 14, 2018 9:35 PM

… This anecdote exemplifies the centuries-old stereotype according to which the Jews have an innate knack for dealing with money. It’s an image that clung to the Jews even when they were paupers.

The original title for the blockbuster Fiddler on the Roof showstopper song “If I Were a Rich Man” was “If I Were a Rothschild.” After Fiddler, Harnick and Bock created the musical The Rothschilds, which was something of a hit at the time around 1970 but has mostly been forgotten.

Evidently, you could make a lot more money telling Jews they were poor than telling Jews they were rich.

… But today it is perfectly clear that the “Jew and money” stereotype is almost as potent as it was a century ago. Suffice it to recall President Donald Trump’s remark to Jewish leaders during the election campaign, “You’re not going to support me, because I don’t want your money.”

Considering the dark history of the subject of the connection between Jews and money, the actual economic history of the Jews is a highly sensitive issue. Jewish history has been described as “a head without a body.” As the historian Jonathan Karp notes, the character of Shylock – the notorious usurer in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” – has cast “a long shadow of defensiveness over Jewish self-perceptions.” Nevertheless, over the past decade, historians have been increasingly focusing on the economic life of the Jews and trying to dispel the mystery and the myths that envelop the subject. Karp has termed this an “economic turn” in the field of Jewish studies.

Until not long ago, most historians preferred to delve deeply into the history of anti-Semitism, or to study the origins of kabbala or analyze Jewish philosophy – and not dwell, for example, on the story of the Jewish trading and banking empires. That subject was largely neglected by Jewish historians themselves; they left it for thinkers who possessed anti-Semitic inclinations.

A striking example is German sociologist Werner Sombart, who in 1911 published the influential book “The Jews and Modern Capitalism” (English edition, 2001, translated by M. Epstein). In response to sociologist Max Weber, Sombart argued that it was the Jews, not the Protestants, who invented capitalism. The Jews’ compatibility with capitalism, he thought, was related to substantive traits in Judaism, which, from the dawn of history, trained the Jews in “the subjugation of the merely animal instincts in man.” …

Actually, Jewish scholars have often sought to emphasize the socialist elements of their culture, a tendency that was consistent with the leftist bent of many Jewish intellectuals in the mid-20th century. But that situation seems to be changing. Not a few contemporary Jewish intellectuals have embraced capitalism as a legitimate economic approach, and are not ashamed of it. As such, they are proud to present their co-religionists as pioneers of capitalism.

One of the latter group is the historian Jerry Z. Muller. In his 2010 book “Capitalism and the Jews,” Muller homes in on the Jewish financiers who established the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank. A similar approach is taken in “The Chosen Few” (2012), by Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein. Their book describes usurious moneylending as a Jewish trade, one in which Jews specialized of their own volition, in order to exploit their relative advantages over the uneducated general population. In this way, the authors maintain, the Jews brought prosperity to the countries in which they were active.

The past decade has also seen the publication of many studies that promote less sweeping claims, but describe global networks of commerce in which the Jews played a crucial role throughout the modern era. …

UC Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine’s book The Jewish Century, which springs from his mother’s side of the family’s experience working for the Bolshevik state, argues that Jews were attracted to Marxism because they were discriminated against because of religion, nationality, and that they were good at capitalism. So, get rid of religion, nations, and capitalism and no more discrimination against Jews! What could possibly go wrong?



Insults, inadvertent offence and anti-Semitism

John Updike is an unlikely controversialist, and may have been surprised to find himself labelled an anti-semite by the New York Observer. His offence came in a review of Peter Carey’s new novel, My Life as a Fake, in which he referred to one of Carey’s characters, Peter Weiss, as a “rich Jew”. The New York Observer took exception to the phrase, which was Updike’s, and not Carey’s, and explained “To say that the expression ‘rich Jew’ is loaded with historical anti-Semitism is an understatement.”

Would Mr Updike describe someone as “a rich Catholic” or “a rich Protestant”?’ The situation immediately became more complex. Timothy Noah, a more industrious fellow than me, or indeed, the leader writers of the New York Observer, swiftly searched through Mr Updike’s vast output, and, indeed, found instances where he had described Catholics and Protestants as rich.

From a 1985 short story, “You loved my family, the idea of there being so many of us, rich and Episcopalian”; from Couples, “[T]here was little in her religious background – feebly Presbyterian; her father, though a generous pledger, had been rather too rich”; from an essay on Graham Greene, “In this rich and glamorous American Greene met his spiritual match; like him, she was a promiscuous, frisky, hard-drinking Catholic.”


But Amazon’s “search inside” feature informs us that the phrase “rich Jew” gets used all the time to no particular anti-Semitic effect. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg used it in The Jews in America. Sholem Aleichem used it in Tevye the Dairyman. Philip Roth used it in American Pastoral. Robert Caro used it in The Power Broker. In none of these instances did the author imply anything derogatory or imply that some other person who used the phrase was expressing anti-Semitism.

Chatterbox doesn’t deny that the phrase “rich Jew” can sometimes be used in a way that reinforces a harmful ethnic stereotype. Quite often, though, it’s used simply to indicate that somebody is, well, rich and Jewish. Kaplan told Chatterbox that a New Yorker editor should have kicked the story back to Updike and asked him to find another phrase. But he admitted no substitute came immediately to mind. What was Updike supposed to do, scribble in “rich person who happens to be Jewish”? That sounds like something you’d hear from the sort of plodding Jewish authority figure that Philip Roth loves to send up in his novels.

What happened here, Chatterbox guesses, is that the Observer had on its mind the recent incident in which the journalist Gregg Easterbrook (full disclosure: a Chatterbox friend) stumbled into some much more vivid phrasing along these lines (“Jewish executives to worship money above all else”) that was genuinely anti-Semitic, though clearly not intended as such. (Easterbrook is nobody’s idea of an anti-Semite.) Easterbrook and the magazine he writes for, the New Republic, immediately recognized and apologized for the legitimate offense they caused, and the Anti-Defamation League was appeased. In Updike’s case, though, the offense seems entirely imaginary. The Observer is fighting the last war.


* I notice the tendency to constantly and unreasonably negotiate: the stereotype isn’t that Jews are good with money, it’s that they use forms of cheating to exclude competition and then claim a closed process to be meritocratic. One is effectively praise and the other is the entirety of the Semitic-Western issue and hundreds of years of history in one line. Witness this journalist in slipping in this little mitigation. I try to tell the other awful racists on the deep web, leave the federal reserve bank alone, pay attention to how they cannot sit down to tea without a strategem. Look at the way this sentence I refer to resembles the old joke about the kid asking his dad for ten dollars: “FIVE DOLLARS? Am I made of money? What on Earth does anyone need three dollars for? I just gave you money, and now you ask me for two dollars.” The point here isn’t stinginess (with which I have no objection), it’s brazen goalpost-moving. The unapologetically unreasonable man generally defeats the lone opponent who feels an obligation to be reasonable.

* I do find it rather ironic that modern day White nationalists and Alt Rightists are such huge proponents of bitcoin and other crypto currencies, given that such abstract and complex financial instruments would have historically been associated with Jews. Needless to say, making money by speculating on the price of Magic Internet Coins would have been diametrically opposed to the nationalist/fascist/Catholic reactionary/national socialist ideal.

* Jewish Rothschilds were about as common as American Rockefellers – not very. This, to me is the great irony of the Holocaust – Hitler aimed his wrath at international bankers and Bolshevik revolutionaries but ended up murdering guys like my grandfather who didn’t have 5 zlotys to his name and knew nothing of Marx (neither Karl nor Groucho). It would be like going after Carlos Slim and Carlos the Jackal but instead killing a million versions of Carlos the guy who cuts your lawn.

Jews who were good at capitalism didn’t become Communists. The minority who became Communists were guys like Lenin and Stalin (and Trotsky) – people with enough education to understand that they were smarter than the people who were then in charge (or thought they were) but who thought that were not being rewarded by that system in the manner that they deserved (and that the masses were being screwed even more). University students, failed poets, philosophers, dreamers, NOT good at capitalism. The masses themselves (Jewish and non-Jewish) were not educated enough to have a clue, nor ideological enough to think that some German guy wrote a book with the solution to their problems.

* Do those who were labeled as anti-semites for violating the taboo when it was still a taboo have a legal recourse now when this is no longer a taboo? Reparations for anti-semites?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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