Jewish Journal

Anti-Semites piling on as global economy plummets

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 8, 2008 | 3:12 pm

Here we go. The holy trinity of Jewish journalism—JTA, Rob Eshman and The God Blog, naturally—have all drawn attention to the blame being launched at The Jews for the economic crisis, which, congruent with beliefs about Jewish domination of global finances, has now spread across the world..

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League noted a spike on anti-Semitic activity online since Lehman Brothers, which was started by three Jewish immigrants, went bankrupt. Over the weekend, “Saturday Night Live” ran a sketch that identified Herb and Marion Sandler as “People who should be shot,” and JTA sought a connection between “SNL’s” joke and comments on the oh-so-white supremacist Vanguard News Network. (You might remember VNN from my article about Cal State Long Beach’s Kevin MacDonald).

“It’s really more like vampires sucking a corpse dry,” wrote the commenter, identified on the site as Sgruber. “Jews are destroyers. They aren’t after their own long-range advantage. Long-range they want the earth plunged into a Dark Ages of endless poverty. This is why the jews must be killed. They are rats eating the grain and the brain of the world.”

And then Rob penned this column: “Wall Street, Main Street and Jew Street.” History is at play here, and it’s not a pretty one. Times of financial difficult have historically been times of persecution and scapegoating of Jews who, yes, have historically been bankers and money changers and, yes, were among some of the leaders of the U.S. financial market.

Rob writes:

It is open season on the big city. In their bid for those elusive independent, middle-class voters, McCain and Obama and their seconds, Sen. Joe Biden and Palin, are fanning the myth that the real America resides in some shining Mayberry on a hill. If only those nasty money changers and culture vultures in the seething cities below would just let them sow their wheat and do their books and raise their children up good.

These tropes are not new to America; they are older than Shylock. The Jews make up the city: corrupt, scheming, complicated; while the common folk, the good people, occupy the farms and villages. The Jews lord over the metropolises, making easy money off the hard labor of others.

There’s an overlooked and ultimately sympathetic 1934 movie, “The House of Rothschild,” which perfectly captures the previous centuries of anti-Semitic caricature.

The film opens in 1750 on Frankfort’s “Jew Street,” as Mayer Amschel, founder of the Rothschild line, scurries to hide his precious guilden from the cruel tax collector.

“They keep us in chains!” he tells his boys. “They won’t let us learn a trade! They won’t let us own land. So make money. Money is the only weapon the Jew has to defend himself with.”

This stereotype and its accompanying rhetoric only ramps up in times of economic crisis. During the Great Depression, anti-Semitism was most virulent not in the cities where Jews lived but in the Farm Belt and Far West, where the image of “the Jew” lived.

Now the Anti-Defamation League reports “a dramatic upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic statements being posted to Internet discussion boards devoted to finance and the economy.”

Scan those Web sites and you quickly see what the candidates themselves likely don’t even realize: For the bigots and haters, Wall Street is code, the city is code, Hollywood—a staple enemy in the culture wars—is code. They’re code for “Jew.”

We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, when Palin said, “We grow good people in small towns,” she was quoting the late Westbrook Pegler, a notorious anti-Semitic columnist who called Jews “geese,” because “they hiss when they talk, gulp down everything before them and foul everything in their wake.”

Our candidates and our talking heads should be ashamed or, at least, careful. Because not only are such black-and-white dichotomies dangerous, they’re dumb.

Read the rest of the column here.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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