Bernie Madoff and anti-Semitism

The Boston Review issued a survey recently, and surprise, many blame the Jews for the financial crisis:

In order to assess explicit prejudice toward Jews, we directly asked respondents “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” with responses falling under five categories: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all. Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group.

While the article seems to mostly discuss Bernie Madoff and his standing among non-Jews, there is something here we can’t ignore: when something goes wrong economically in a country, it’s Jews who are to blame. The media going to lengths to point out Madoff’s being one of us, with all the baggage that carries, is not actually helping us at all.

I have to confess that I was not surprised about the breakdown between Democrats and Republicans; Republicans and especially the Christian Zionists are certainly not friends of ours, and Democrats may not actually be left-wing, but it’s not surprising to me that at least those nominally left-wing surveyed tended to blame us.

Anyway, the bottom line here is this: in the United States we have enjoyed mostly benevolent interactions unprecedented in our history, but even here when things go bad it could be bad for us. It can and does happen anywhere.

What do we do? We get punished from people when we don’t engage with them and stick to ourselves, and leave ourselves vulnerable when we do and things like this happen.

While I’m going to find a cite for this later, along these lines, 2008 was an all-time high for the province of Alberta in reported anti-Semitic incidents.


7 Responses

  1. Wow. I expected something like this, but not to this extent. Not more than a third of people blaming the Jews.
    I’m not sure whether things are better or worse here in the UK. I haven’t *heard* any explicit Jew-blaming (although I have heard a lot of explicit PoC-bashing and non-English-speaking-white-immigratn bashing.)

  2. I’m not surprised. But the fact that prejudice is alive and well isn’t restricted to Jews. Think of how immigration was blamed for swine flu. However the amount of personal risk due to prejudice is another issue. A study like this has an unspoken message in the results: watch out guys, the gas chambers could be going up any time. That’s an exaggeration that has underlain Jewish panic for 50 years and no wonder. It’s a kind of communal ptsd. To give a fuller picture, the study could have asked questions like, do you believe that Jews are responsible for medical advances. Then further: would you be comfortable with your kids having Jewish friends? Would you condone or participate in violence against Jews? If there was threat of an attack on your Jewish neighbour would you stand up with your neighbour?

  3. I don’t think Brown Shoes was suggesting that this would lead to another attempted genocide. I also think it’s foolish to dismiss her words as panic. Anti-Semitic violence didn’t end in the forties. It is still going on and this scapegoating is likely to lead to a rise in it.

  4. His words 🙂

    Anyway, that is what I was about to say – anti-Semitic violence still goes on, and it’s been reported that 2008 had an all-time high of reported acts of anti-Semitism for my home province. I grant you that acts of actual violence were still a very very small percentage, but there were and are plenty of acts of vandalism and harrassment.

  5. Ugh, I wrote about this too. This post is right on.

  6. I am not a he.

  7. No, I am – sorry for implying something else, there appears to be a miscommunication somewhere!

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