In the wake of Bernie Madoff's ruinous investment schemes, Abe Foxman takes a cultural and political look at the many variations throughout history of the assumptions made about Jews and money. These include Jews as greedy global capitalists; Jews as wealthy secret communists; Jews as cheapskates; and Jews controlling the media with their money to unduly influence society. Foxman makes the case that these stereotypes have permeated cultures globally and argues that these beliefs are rooted in deep-seated and pervasive anti-Semitism. As with all forms of bigotry, society at large needs to respond to the persistence of stereotypes by educating the young, denouncing hate speech, and by encouraging Jews, like all groups, to express pride in their ethnic and religious heritage.
As national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Foxman has dedicated himself to fighting anti-Semitism and all kinds of bigotry. In the wake of the Madoff scandal, Foxman (The Deadliest Lies) and his ADL colleagues saw a flood of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites, prompting him to explore age-old unfair stereotypes about Jews and money. Many of Foxman's arguments against the myths are familiar, beginning with the New Testament story of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver symbol for medieval Christians of Jewish treachery motivated by greed. Foxman says that the image of Jew as moneylender has become an element in some Muslims' anti-Semitism (as Islam forbids usury), and he shows that anti-Semitic beliefs have become alarmingly popular in Japan. The author contends that Jewish religion and tradition are exceptional for their special emphasis on generosity, charity, and fair economic dealings. To combat irrational bigotry, he urges Jews to "live good lives according to their best values" without being defensive and stresses that all Americans be committed to opposing hatred no matter what group is being victimized. His lucid and authoritative book makes many valid points, but it's also familiar and platitudinous, preaching to the converted.