Friday, October 03, 2008

Anti-Semites Blame Jews for Financial Crisis

Arab anti-Semitic cartoons shown here.

When people need to assign blame for something they don't understand, they sometimes concoct conspiracy theories.

In Medieval Europe, when there was a plague, people sometimes blamed the Jews for poisoning the Christians' wells. Jews were sometimes also accused of a blood libel, of using the blood of Christian children to make matzo balls.

In the 20th Century, a plagiarized Russian literary forgery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion alleged that the Jews were conspiring to take over the world. This conspiracy theory has been used by political extremists on the right and left as well as by Christian and Arab religious extremists. The Protocols is a template for many other conspiracy theories that feature similar themes.

Adolf Hitler depicted Jews as rodents and vermin who were polluting the German nation. When the Depression came, Hitler blamed Jewish bankers.

Soviet propaganda refashioned the old anti-Semitic stereotypes into class enemies such as the "bourgeoise," "greedy kulaks," and "international capitalism." When Andrei Sakharov, the creator of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, criticized his government, his dissident views were blamed on his wife, "the Jewess Yelena Bonner."

In the 1980s, KGB propaganda fabricated bogus scientific claims that the U.S. Army developed AIDS to kill black people. In 1992, the KGB admitted its responsibility for these anti-American active measures.

The KGB's crackpot scientific claims were disputed by prominent Soviet scientists whose views were published in Izvestia in 1987.

AIDS experts report that black people who believe this conspiracy theory are less inclined to protect themselves from AIDS because they believe their own government is trying to kill them.

Recently, the charlatan ex-professor Ward Churchill was exposed for fabrication and falsification of evidence to support his claim that the U.S. Army deliberately infected the Mandan Indians with smallpox. He mischaracterized the work of honest scholars such as E. Wagner Stearn, Ph.D. and Allen E. Stearn, Ph.D, the authors of The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian (1945).

Russia's antisemitic Russian Communist Party leader Gennadi Zyuganov blames the U.S. for causing the bird flu, although Russian scientists reject this anti-American canard--as they did the KGB's AIDS propaganda--in favor of scientifically-based theories.

Today, the most crude and virulent anti-Semititic canards, of course, come from the Middle East.

These days, anti-Semites spread their conspiracy theories on the Internet. The Anti-Defamation League (10-2-08) reports that the US financial crisis is causing an upsurge in online anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about how this crisis came about:

In the wake of the collapse of major investment banks and the government's proposed bailout of financial institutions, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is reporting a dramatic upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic statements being posted to Internet discussion boards devoted to finance and the economy.

Hundreds of anti-Semitic posts regarding Lehman Brothers and other institutions affected by the subprime mortgage crisis have been submitted to discussion boards dealing with finance, with many more arriving by the minute. The messages rail against Jews in general, with some charging that Jews control the government and finance as part of a "Jew world order" and therefore are to blame for the economic turmoil.

Anti-Jewish invective also has surfaced on a wide variety of blogs and conspiracy Web sites, according to ADL, which monitors anti-Semitism on the Internet through its Center on Extremism. And similar messages have also appeared on neo-Nazi and white supremacist Web sites and Internet forums, which frequently seek to exploit current issues in an effort to spread anti-Semitism to potential recruits.

"We know from modern history that whenever there is a downturn in the global economy, there will be an upturn in the level of anti-Semitism and bigotry, and that is what we are seeing now," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The age-old canards about Jews and money are always just beneath the surface. As we witnessed after 9/11, whenever there is trouble or uncertainty in the economy or world events, Jews become the scapegoats, and ugly anti-Semitic canards are given new life."

Examples of some of the more virulent anti-Semitic posts to mainstream Finance message boards include:

-"(Jews have) infiltrated Wall Street and Government and have ruined our country."

-"What is a GS Jew? Goldman Sachs? Jews are greedy, rotten slime balls."

-They (Jews) love money nothing else, no faith or religion can be so heartless to their victims."

-That's how they work they short the stock all the way making billions and then cover right it up sell and then taxpayers to the rescue and it is true all those institutions are ran by Jews …."

While operators of the most popular finance message boards, including those hosted by Yahoo! Finance, have been quick to remove offensive comments, the rate at which new posts are arriving prevents them from removing all of the objectionable material before it is widely read. In many cases, other individual members of the groups have immediately responded against the anti-Semitic comments, decrying the messages as bigoted, inappropriate and categorically false. In recent weeks since the crisis started to unfolded, many Internet users have reported their concerns directly to ADL.

"The good news is that providers of Internet services and moderators of message boards and even individual users are quick to react whenever anti-Semitism enters the discussion," said Mr. Foxman. "The service providers are responsive, and in most cases the offensive messages are quickly removed. But in many cases -- especially with online discussions that occur in real time and are closely followed by large groups of users -- the damage is already done."

Similar anti-Semitic sentiments about the economy are appearing with great frequency on white supremacist Web sites such as Stormfront, the largest Internet forum for white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Posts and discussions on Stormfront have included references to Jewish control of the banking industry and suggestions that Jews hold complete power over government and the financial services sector.

Wrote one poster on Stormfront of the collapse of Lehman Brothers: "No doubt many of the board of directors, which is usually composed of the major shareholders that wield power, are still largely Jewish … I would imagine the likelihood of the Fed etc. bailing the company out depends largely to what degree it is Jewish owned."

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