Anti-Semitism and the Financial Crisis

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A full quarter of Americans are blaming “the Jews” for the financial crisis. That’s according to a recent Stanford University study where researchers were explicit in their questioning: “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” Possible answers: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all.

Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit, who conducted the study, wrote about their findings in the Boston Review and placed them in the appropriate (and ominous) historical context:

The findings presented here are troubling. This is not the first instance of an economic downturn sparking anti-Semitic sentiments. Financial scandals are widely regarded as contributors to the rise of anti-Semitism in European history. Famously, the Panama Scandal–often described as the biggest case of monetary corruption of the nineteenth century–led to the downfall of Clemenceau’s government in France and involved bribes to many cabinet members and hundreds of parliament members. Nonetheless, the public’s fury centered on two Jewish men who were in charge of distributing corporate bribe money to the politicians. In her classic The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt described the Panama Scandal as a key event in the development of French anti-Semitism. The Stavisky Affair, in which the Jewish financier Alexandre Stavisky embezzled millions of francs through fraudulent municipal bonds, broke out 40 years later and had a similar effect of nourishing the accusation that the Jews were behind the corruption in financial dealings.

Source: Boston Review

Image by purpleslog. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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