At the start of his remarks to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Dec. 8, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman acknowledged that his new book, “Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype,” (Palgrave Macmillan) might not be the best stocking stuffer. After all, the old idea at the book’s heart — that Jews are motivated primarily by money, that they use it to manipulate and control others — has roots that are completely intertwined with the origins of Christianity itself.
In addition to the charge of deicide — the misconception that Jews, not Romans, killed Jesus — the second pillar of anti-Semitism is rooted in the question of why Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas, Foxman pointed out, was no ideologue, nor was he a defender of the Jewish faith. “He sold [Jesus] out for 30 pieces of silver,” Foxman said.
The history that Foxman recounts in “Jews and Money” may be millennia old, but what inspired him to write this, his third book, was the torrent of anti-Semitic invective that emerged in the wake of the Bernard Madoff scandal. “All of a sudden, people forgot that Ponzi was not a Jewish name,” Foxman said.
Foxman explained that he hopes his book will help encourage those witnessing prejudicial and hate-filled speech not to stand idly by. It is the same reason he has spent nearly 25 years working at the helm of ADL. “The good news is,” Foxman said, “you’re not born a bigot; the bad news is, you learn to be a bigot. The second bad news: It’s much quicker to learn to be a bigot than to unlearn to be a bigot.”