Jewish Journal

Occupy Wall Street and anti-Semitism

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 18, 2011 | 3:38 pm

Jews are history’s most popular scapegoat for financial calamity. It’s often the Jews—the Jews who love money, the Jewish bankers, the Jews who control the global economy, whom get blamed by people who don’t like their financial situation.

And, of course, it’s unfair. As I wrote in what seemed like the middle of the global economic meltdown:

Jews didn’t choose to become moneylenders and usurers. In Medieval Europe, the financial “industry” was one of the only fields open to them, and that was only because the church prohibited Christians from partaking in such a vile profession, one suited for, in Martin Luther’s words, “a brood of vipers and children of the devil.”

The church eventually dropped its restriction, but the moneylending tradition remained with Jews wherever they landed. I’m not sure why this is; it’s something I’m exploring for a future article. But a reasonable explanation is that money is fungible, property and businesses are not. And when anybody who looks or acts like you is having their assets seized or their community expelled by state governments every few decades, well, you look for ways to CYA.

But for centuries this phenomenon has provided fodder anti-Semites. The above ad shows that for some of the Occupy Wall Streeters there is nothing new under the sun. These anti-Semites are not at the center of Occupy Wall Street, but this post at On Faith suggests that liberal leaders and politicians should be condemning such behavior.

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