Bradley Burston / The Madoff betrayal: Life imitates anti-Semitism
For the true anti-Semite, Christmas came early this year; the Aryan Nation couldn't rival this.
For the true anti-Semite, Christmas came early this year.
The anti-Semite's new Santa is Bernard Madoff. The answer to every Jew-hater's wish list. The Aryan Nation at its most delusional couldn't have come up with anything to rival this:
The former chairman of Nasdaq turns out, also, to be treasurer of the board of trustees at Yeshiva University and chairman of the university's business school. Rich beyond human comprehension, he handles fortunes for others, buying and selling in a trading empire that skirts investment banks and other possible sources of regulation. He redefines avarice, knowingly and personally bilking charities and retirees in the most classic of con games.
Even better, for those obsessed with the idea that Jews control finance, entertainment and the media, is the idea that Madoff's greed was uncontrollable enough that he targeted fellow Jews, even Holocaust survivors, some of them his own friends, as well as Israeli companies who insured Jews, including Holocaust survivors. The beauty part, for the anti-Semite: Madoff's machinations, which could have been put to use for the sake of humanity, have directly harmed Jewish welfare and charity institutions.
He has managed to harm contemporary Jewry in ways anti-Semites could only dream about. He has sapped the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles of 11 percent of its endowment, or more than $6 million. In the words of prominent educator Avraham Infeld, he "obliterated" long-standing charitable foundations for Jewish causes in Israel, Eastern Europe and North America.
Along the way, Madoff assured the story enormous play, not only with the scale and the impudence of the scheme, but with his A+ roster of celebrity victims, among them Stephen Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, and billionaire real-estate tycoon, media mogul, commentator and former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Mort Zuckerman. A senior U.S. senator is one of his client-marks, as well as present and past owners of professional football and baseball teams.
Then there was the betrayal of old friends like philanthropists Carl and Ruth Shapiro, megadonors to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Brandeis University and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
"The scandal rippled far beyond the multimillion-dollar private foundation run by Madoff that channeled money into hospitals and theaters," Reuters reported, "and swept up charities large and small, directly and indirectly, along with wealthy Jewish investors Madoff personally advised."
Adding the element of clannishness, The New York Post was more direct.
"Working the so-called "Jewish circuit" of well-heeled Jews he met at country clubs on Long Island and in Palm Beach, and through his position on the boards of directors of several prominent Jewish institutions, he was entrusted with entire family fortunes.
"The guy was totally respected. He was a heymishe Jewish guy. He had sweet old ladies and he let their children in," said a Manhattan lawyer who invested with Madoff.
"This guy was dealing with all the rich Jews in Roslyn and the rich Jews in Palm Beach. This was passed down from family member to family member because he wouldn't open up to new people."
It remains to be seen how far we've come from the days of the frank Jew-hate and genteel anti-Semitism of the likes of Henry Ford and F. Scott Fitzgerald. We can only hope that the Meyer Wolfsheim Effect remains dormant, the Great Gatsby heritage of "the man who fixed the 1919 World Series."
" ... If I had thought of it at all, I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain," Fitzgerald's narrator confides. "It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people - with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe."
In the meanwhile, Bernard Madoff, you've made the days of uncounted devout Jew-haters. This year, all they want for Christmas, is you.
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