From ‘Avalon’ to Madoff: What ‘The Wizard of Lies’ reveals about contemporary American Jewish identity

US Politics
on 35 Comments

Back in 1990 director Barry Levinson gave us Avalon, his epic masterpiece on the American Jewish community. In that classic film Levinson skillfully examined the Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their often tumultuous encounter with the complexities of American culture and the assimilation process.  It presented the fraught confrontation of Old World values with the brash and exhilarating world of 1950s America and its fast-paced lifestyle and Suburban sprawl.

We were able to see the generational clash and the shock of the new, but in a way that warmly remembered the struggles and disappointments of the immigrants and showed how their children moved on from the past.

It is this debilitating process which becomes the underlying subject of Levinson’s chilling examination of the Bernie Madoff story.

In The Wizard of Lies we see the pitfalls of “Making It” in America and how the Jewish community has reconfigured itself at the end of a very tumultuous century. The film is currently being screened on the HBO network

Expertly played by Robert De Niro in a dazzling performance that hearkens back to the iconic roles of his 1970s and 80s peak, Madoff is a reckless nihilist whose debased Long Island/Palm Beach 1%-er values mirror the excesses that we continue to see in the disaster that is Donald Trump.

Madoff is a truly nasty piece of work who relentlessly browbeats his family and associates as he remains completely oblivious to what it is that he is actually doing to his clients.

The movie notes the many ways in which Madoff ascended to the very apex of the financial services industry and became the idol of not only his investors, but of the institutional system itself.

He was held in awe by SEC and NASDAQ officials as a pioneering leader who helped to craft the laws regulating the industry.  This idol-worship blinded regulators to the malfeasance that he perpetrated under their collective watch.

His insider knowledge of the system helped him commit his shocking fraud which parasitically shifted massive amounts of money from one place to the other as he eventually ran out of cash to continue to “generate” unrealistic returns for his clients.

While massively enriching himself and his unsuspecting family, Madoff was bilking his clients out of their life savings, eventually leaving many of them penniless.

Central to the story is the 2008 Wall Street collapse which was the beginning of the end of his demonic Ponzi scheme.

We will recall the process which began with the vile Ronald Reagan and ended with George W. Bush that sought to empower a feckless financial services industry at the expense of the internal coherence and stability of our economic system.

Prior to this collapse the movie shows us the Madoff world in full debauchery: expensive houses, vacations, lavish social gatherings, the very best shopping sprees, and the fast lane of American elite society.

The Wizard of Lies, brilliantly written by Sam Levinson, Sam Baum, and John Burnham Schwartz, is based on New York Times reporter Diana Henriques’ book (she also plays herself in the movie), and is structured using her prison-house interviews with Madoff as the framework of a series of intense flashbacks which present the sorry tale in revealing fragments; a similar structure to the one used in Avalon.

The film poster for “Avalon.”

Levinson’s presentation focuses on the most basic human elements of the story which reminds us of the Avalon immigrants and their own complex dealings with the American economic system and the pluralistic social universe of their new homeland.

After many decades of engagement with America, Jews like Madoff felt entitled to game the system in a way that displayed a shocking lack of basic moral values.

Exploitation became the key to Madoff’s scheme to enrich himself by bilking the unsuspecting investors.

But as De Niro/Madoff says in the movie, those investors – including prominent Jewish figures like Elie Wiesel and many religious charities – chose not to examine the suspiciously secretive way in which Madoff worked, and never questioned why it was that their returns were consistent as the market continued to fluctuate so wildly.

The Wizard of Lies is an implicit indictment not only of the American economic system, which has since the 1980s become an out-of-control train careening from one crisis to another, but also a critical examination of the debased mores of the 1% with a strong Jewish component in the social process.

The Krichinsky family in Avalon famously sits down to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the full Turkey and trimmings, while the Madoffs entertain lavishly on the ritzy Long Island shore with Steak, Lobster, and Champagne.

The physical contrast between the humble Baltimore row houses in Avalon with the often obscene wealth of Madoffworld could not be more telling as we process the dramatic changes in the American Jewish community over the course of time.

Avalon sought to question the base materialism of the new generation by juxtaposing it to the thrift and humility of the immigrants.

The Wizard of Lies shows us the process completed in a way that removes the moral values of the Old Country and replaces them with degenerate greed and smug elitism; a process that manifests a revolutionary shift in values.

The Madoffs live high on the proverbial hog and have forgotten the most basic elements of life and of the essential dignity of the human being.

The film poster for “Wizard of Lies”

Bernie Madoff is a man who only sees his own well-being and remains oblivious to the pain he is causing others.  He surrounds himself with yes-men and sycophants who cater to his every wish and desire.  In one of the movie’s critical scenes he is shown tyrannically berating a group of workers setting up a meal at one of his lavish social affairs, showing no respect for their essential human dignity.

Madoff saw human beings as inert instruments to exclusively serve him and his interests.  He showed no respect or consideration to his own family and to those who trusted him as their financial counselor.

The cruelty that he exhibited to his wife and children is often harrowing and truly unspeakable; their suffering is the manifestation of an inhumanity that represents evil in its most primal manifestation.

We have seen a similar narcissism and megalomania in Donald Trump whose own financial malfeasance also speaks to the explosion of ego and a blatant disregard of socio-political norms.

The connection between Madoff, a very uncaring Jew who thought nothing of using his elevated financial status to exploit his own community, and the larger institutional Jewish world is an important element in the story. The Madoff scandal prompted much soul-searching and hand-wringing in the Jewish world, as we see in a 2009 article by Jonathan Tobin from Commentary magazine. A 2008 New York Times piece by Robin Pogrebin quotes numerous rabbis and Jewish leaders attacking Madoff as a “shanda,” which is a Yiddish word that means “shame” or “disgrace.”

But the current Jewish embrace of Trump and his degenerate values shows that perceived financial self-interest continues to overshadow morality and ethics. In spite of the rise of Alt-Right Trumpworld Anti-Semitism and the numerous ethical violations coming from the White House, the institutional Jewish community continues to strongly back the president.

The Madoff personality-type remains central to contemporary Jewish identity.  We have seen the ascendance of an Ashkenazi Jewish culture which has rejected the values of Religious Humanism and adopted a cynical, alienated stance that is deeply rooted in selfishness, materialism, and cruelty.

The Jewish community today is all about getting the upper hand and stomping out the little guy.  Our leadership presents a smug superiority which revels in its economic success and assumes that wealth engenders honorific status and socio-political control.

The Wizard of Lies presents indelible scenes of the elites in their native habitat, reveling in their luxurious lifestyle which in turn has served to eviscerate their humanity.

In this toxic context there is little if any room for the most elementary religious concerns, as it is money and the things it can buy that have become the central defining factor in American Jewish life.

We have seen how this nefarious process works in David Brooks’ New York Times column “The Orthodox Surge”. Five years after the Wall Street collapse and in the looming shadow of Madoff, Brooks vigorously applauds Orthodox Jewish materialistic values and the lavish lifestyles that he saw in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood. Brooks does not once refer to Madoff and his shenanigans, but he does proudly mention his tour guide Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, an individual who is at the forefront of Republican-Conservative Jewish politics and who is a committed enemy of the Sephardic tradition. We should recall that Madoff was beloved in the Modern Orthodox community where he was seen as a veritable Messiah. As Elie Wiesel put it: “We thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands.”

It is of course said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, and we have seen how Jews continue to engage in dubious financial behavior.

The 2016 Platinum Partners scandal extends the Madoff legacy to the present and speaks to a continuing culture of excess and corruption inside the Jewish community, which is so expertly detailed by Levinson in “The Wizard of Lies” with its many scenes of revelry and carnival-esque celebrations.

As we saw in Avalon, there was a dark side to the rampant assimilation and its attendant materialism: The abandonment of traditional values as understood within the framework of Religious Humanism produced an internal corruption that has led to the rot of The Wizard of Lies and a system that lionizes degenerates like Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump.

And so it is that we continue to see the collateral human damage that has been generated by a socio-economic system that famously produces people like Bernie Madoff.

In the masterful Wizard of Lies, a deeply striking work of historical reconstruction, we are able to process how all this works: the cheating, the arrogance, the cruel barbarity, and the materialistic excess all function as markers of a debasement of humanity that has untethered contemporary Jewish culture from its most important ethical values.  It is a transformational motion picture which forces us to confront the demons among us.

It is thus critical that we again look carefully at the life of Bernie Madoff and rethink what is happening in our Jewish community before it is too late.

Our lives truly hang in the balance.

About David Shasha

David Shasha is the director of the Center for Sephardic Heritage in Brooklyn, New York. The Center publishes the weekly e-mail newsletter Sephardic Heritage Update as well as promoting lectures and cultural events. His articles have been published in Tikkun magazine, The American Muslim, the Christian Progressive and other publications. To sign up for the newsletter visit the Sephardic Heritage Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/Davidshasha

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35 Responses

  1. Citizen
    May 25, 2017, 2:04 pm

    Bernie’s character never revealed even an inch of empathy. When told his sister-in-law was worried about her life-savings due to market situation on cusp of 2008 debacle, and Bernie was asked if she should invest in his project, he simply said, “sure.” He was not bombastic like Trump, but rather the contrary–his con was he was reluctant to take your money as he was busy with so many clients already.

  2. Mooser
    May 25, 2017, 4:07 pm

    “who is at the forefront of Republican-Conservative Jewish politics and who is a committed enemy of the Sephardic tradition”

    What a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
    So it’s come to that.

  3. echinococcus
    May 25, 2017, 4:49 pm

    What one may wonder about is what on earth has the humble immigration story of Ashkenazi Jewish people got to do with a modern-day American embezzler of and in the ruling class (of course using his Eskenazi contacts within that ruling class, among many others of all possible persuasions and origins), and why a Sefardí center leader should feel the need to declare that all that is “Jewish” and involve himself and a lot of unrelated people in this story. This is another textbook example of the huge damage done by Zionism.

    Ethnic origin or nominal religion are connected to this monopoly capitalist class speculation scandal by way of the tribal Mafia among the ruling class, among many others. Connecting it, collectively!, to people who culturally, biologically or in any other respect, have absolutely nothing to do either with the Lehlí (there’s a new term for the outsiders, meaning the Eskenazi) or to the ruling class is absurd.

    • JWalters
      May 25, 2017, 9:24 pm

      Perhaps he is trying to counter the Zionist presumption that all Jews form one body, and hence all belong to the Jewish mafia?

      • echinococcus
        May 25, 2017, 11:10 pm

        By intervening “as a Jew” where no Sefardí was involved at all, without having a shred of a wisp of a shadow of common culture or background with the group Madoff belongs to, by trying this back door to again peddle the myth of a “Jewish peoplehood”, all he does is instead reinforce “the Zionist presumption that all Jews form one body, and hence all belong to the Jewish mafia”

        It’s exactly as if someone is convicted as belonging to the Sicilian mafia, and an Irishman jumps to the defense, denying the existence of the mafia because they are both Catholic.

    • vporzsolt
      May 26, 2017, 11:55 am

      Just what is specifically Jewish about all this corruption? Madoff is simply a member of the 1% in action. Ethnicising this is just racism.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 26, 2017, 2:21 pm

        Just what is specifically Jewish about all this corruption?

        according to shasha, there was a ‘strong Jewish component in the social process’:

        The Wizard of Lies is an implicit indictment not only of the American economic system, which has since the 1980s become an out-of-control train careening from one crisis to another, but also a critical examination of the debased mores of the 1% with a strong Jewish component in the social process.

        there’s no suggestion here either “the American economic system”, and/or “the debased mores of the 1%”, are specifically jewish. but i would argue there was a “strong Jewish component in the social process”, likely as a result of a sort of trust in the assumption he was mensch or something, within the community of investors. the fact that all of these people (the lion’s share of investors were jewish) didn’t question how his results went (often) wildly against what the market was doing, should have led to further scrutiny. had there not been that “jewish component in the social process” how likely do you think it would have been that this charade could have gone on unchecked for so long?

    • Annie Robbins
      May 26, 2017, 2:07 pm

      What one may wonder about is what on earth has the humble immigration story of Ashkenazi Jewish people got to do with a modern-day American embezzler of and in the ruling class

      hmm, i thought that was rather obvious. for one thing, the stories were told by the same man, barry levison. albeit he didn’t write the madoff story as he did avalon, but he directed and produced both of them. so as an artist, like most artists, there will be similarities in the way stories (or the process) unfold. shasha noted the contrast here:

      The physical contrast between the humble Baltimore row houses in Avalon with the often obscene wealth of Madoffworld could not be more telling as we process the dramatic changes in the American Jewish community over the course of time.

      Avalon sought to question the base materialism of the new generation by juxtaposing it to the thrift and humility of the immigrants.

      The Wizard of Lies shows us the process completed in a way that removes the moral values of the Old Country and replaces them with degenerate greed and smug elitism; a process that manifests a revolutionary shift in values.

      shasha further expands here:

      As we saw in Avalon, there was a dark side to the rampant assimilation and its attendant materialism: The abandonment of traditional values as understood within the framework of Religious Humanism produced an internal corruption that has led to the rot of The Wizard of Lies and a system that lionizes degenerates like Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump. –

      and why a Sefardí center leader should feel the need to declare that all that is “Jewish” and involve himself and a lot of unrelated people in this story. This is another textbook example of the huge damage done by Zionism.

      not really understanding the “to declare that all that is “Jewish” “. and if you open the embeds following the text/conversation about Brooks and Soloveitchik as it relates to Religious Humanism, it may explain why the author involved himself. not sure what you mean by “textbook example of the huge damage done by Zionism”.

      Connecting it, collectively!, to people who culturally, biologically or in any other respect, have absolutely nothing to do either with… Eskenazi… or to the ruling class is absurd.

      and shasha did that when?

      • echinococcus
        May 27, 2017, 12:54 am

        obvious. for one thing, the stories were told by the same man… so as an artist, like most artists, there will be similarities in the way stories (or the process) unfold

        I’m not an artist. Us pedestrians often don’t even look who the “artist” is. Connection between Ashkenazi immigration 19th-20th C., and speculative imperial capitalists (and their Mafia) seems like non-existent, or just so artificial that all you can see as a connection is the artist and all Shasha is concerned about is making it into another propaganda piece for the “Jewish peoplehood” absurdity (by the sole fact of butting in as a Sefardí community manager who has fuckall to do in any way or wise except (perhaps) the nominal religion for the religious among the two separate ethnicities…

        shasha further expands here:

        As we saw in Avalon, there was a dark side to the rampant assimilation and its attendant materialism: The abandonment of traditional values as understood within the framework of Religious Humanism produced an internal corruption that has led to the rot of The Wizard of Lies and a system that lionizes degenerates like Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump

        Yeah, that is the only other point of the existence of this article: (dripping religious and tribal) nonsense and obscurantist opposition to “assimilation” (read: emancipation.)

        “and why a Sefardí center leader should feel the need to declare that all that is “Jewish” … example of the huge damage done by Zionism.”

        not really understanding the “to declare that all that is “Jewish” “. and if you open the embeds following the text/conversation about Brooks and Soloveitchik as it relates to Religious Humanism, it may explain why the author involved himself. not sure what you mean by “textbook example of the huge damage done by Zionism”.

        “Connecting it, collectively!, to people who culturally, biologically or in any other respect, have absolutely nothing to do either with… Eskenazi… or to the ruling class is absurd.

        and shasha did that when?

        What you say you are “not really understanding” is the whole reason for the existence of this article, beside the broadside against assimilation/miscegenation. Guy from a totally unrelated ethnicity jumps in and declares himself the same as the Eskenazi. Without having any kind of common culture or language or nuffink. “Jewish peoplehood”, the Zionist basic idea in all its glory. Also, it is specifically Zionist and I describe it as “the huge damage done by Zionism”: pre-Zionist pan-Jewishisms were still essentially based on practice of religion, not “peoplehood”, even if the tribal mythology is ancient.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 27, 2017, 1:48 am

        Guy from a totally unrelated ethnicity jumps in

        touchy tonight. and why keep quoting yourself on peoplehood? no one’s used the term but yourself.

  4. JWalters
    May 25, 2017, 9:07 pm

    Thanks for this crystal clear synopsis of Bernie Madoff’s syndrome. Seeing other people as mere objects has always been the main disease of the very rich, such as are often found in the tops of the biggest banks and their controlled industrial corporations.

    What’s the difference between Madoff’s approach and making vast profits from stolen Palestinian land? Nothing.

  5. Keith
    May 25, 2017, 9:24 pm

    DAVID SASHA- “As we saw in Avalon, there was a dark side to the rampant assimilation and its attendant materialism….”

    Yes, poor Bernie, corrupted by assimilation and Gentile materialism!

  6. Danaa
    May 26, 2017, 5:58 am

    “markers of a debasement of humanity that has untethered contemporary Jewish culture from its most important ethical values.”

    Question – has it really?

    What are those “important ethical values”? something ever so consistent with a certain settler-colonial state that’s making all kind of amazing financial and material progress at the expense of an indigenous population? ?

    And where have we seen that before? Joshua, maybe? part of an illustrious, value-filled book revered by generations of these ‘ethical value upholders”? Joshua, a book that is taught to Israeli children like it’s just a fine and dandy little tale of righteous “conquest” – to be repeated again thousands of years later, inb ’47-48 and ’67. Hey, boys will be boys, right? the morality of it all – the values! and such ethics! so very impressive! beats them greek values by a mile, surely….

    Now, what was it about Madoff that was exactly new? oh yes, he messed around with his fellow Jews and their investments. Now, how could he? Ah, such lessons we learn! if only he didn’t swindle his own co-tribalists! if only…. may be there wouldn’t be a movie worth making, eh?

  7. hophmi
    May 26, 2017, 8:44 am

    A typically antisemitic interpretation of the Madoff story, which uses the old canard of a Jewish community obsessed with money.

    • Misterioso
      May 26, 2017, 10:42 am

      @hophmi

      A trilogy seems appropriate. I suggest the third movie be about the life of Sheldon Adelson. It would be riveting.

    • eljay
      May 26, 2017, 11:15 am

      || hophmi: A typically antisemitic interpretation of the Madoff story, which uses the old canard of a Jewish community obsessed with money. ||

      I get what you’re saying:
      – Few Jews are obsessed with money, so it’s anti-Semitic to describe the actions of Jews in the context of a Jewish community obsessed with money.
      – But according to Zionists most Jews are Zionist, so it wouldn’t be anti-Semitic to describe the actions of Jews in the context of a Jewish community obsessed with colonialism, (war) crimes and supremacism.

    • vporzsolt
      May 26, 2017, 11:58 am

      Yep! This ‘analysis’ is just obfuscation in action.

    • Mooser
      May 26, 2017, 1:23 pm

      “which uses the old canard of a Jewish community obsessed with money.”

      So that’s why Scrooge McDuck was a aging Anatidae!

      • Ismail
        May 27, 2017, 9:24 am

        I see what you did there, pal.

        I could swan about, dropping my own obscure references, but I’ll duck out and leave it to others to goose the conversation along.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 26, 2017, 2:33 pm

      which uses the old canard of a Jewish community obsessed with money.

      a canard is an unfounded rumor or story. the author doesn’t state the jewish community is/was “obsessed” with money. he discusses materialism and makes the argument:

      The Jewish community today is all about getting the upper hand and stomping out the little guy. Our leadership presents a smug superiority which revels in its economic success and assumes that wealth engenders honorific status and socio-political control.

      if you think that’s an unfair canard, if you don’t think the leadership of the jewish community “presents a smug superiority which revels in its economic success and assumes that wealth engenders honorific status and socio-political control”, by all means make the argument against it.

      keep in mind, the author didn’t make the argument that “getting the upper hand and stomping out the little guy” or “leadership present[ing] — smug superiority which revels in its economic success and assumes that wealth engenders honorific status and socio-political control” is jewish per se. in fact he mentions trump and other elitists. however, he doesn’t seem as concerned with their malfeasance, understandably because it’s not the topic.

    • Keith
      May 26, 2017, 4:29 pm

      HOPHMI- “A typically antisemitic interpretation of the Madoff story, which uses the old canard of a Jewish community obsessed with money.”

      Obsessed? Canard? Comparing the “Jewish community” to other ethnic groups, would you describe the Jewish community as less concerned with economic success, more concerned with economic success, or about average? Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

    • YoniFalic
      May 27, 2017, 2:55 pm

      Racist Jews are immune to the facts.

      https://books.google.com/books?id=I3R5adgrm38C&pg=PA37&dq=rabbi+shalom+wiener+neustadt&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixwffp25DUAhUEKyYKHdaAAXYQ6AEIPDAE#v=onepage&q=rabbi%20shalom%20wiener%20neustadt&f=false

      In truth, I don’t understand why Jews don’t embrace real Jewish history, in which Medieval Jews (including E. European Slavo-Turks) play the key role in the development of the modern world.

      From Yet another young American Jew has had it with Israel – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/04/another-american-israel/#comment-878037.

      Axelman is still mentally imprisoned within the fake propaganda history, which has no connection to the facts.

      [Example 1] He said the ancient homeland had come to embody colonialism, military occupation and institutionalized racism and that American Jews were not being told the whole story of what was happening to the Palestinian people.

      [Example 2] Israel was forced into a war of survival when it “captured its historical highlands,” Oded Ravivi wrote in an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post in September. The land was legally ownerless at the time, he said. “No other nation on earth has more right to Judea than the people of Judah, aka the Jews,” Ravivi wrote.

      Axelman agrees to a point, noting that Jews didn’t have much of a choice but to move to Palestine, having faced “unbelievable oppression” in Europe, and America wasn’t taking Jewish refugees after the war. The Jews are a Middle Eastern people originally, he said, but it’s the militarized aggression of the occupation forces that scare him.

      It’s time to start to understand the real history of ancient Judeans and modern Jews.

      Jews (especially Ashkenazim) have never been smarter than the non-Jews among whom they lived. They simply had certain advantages that like greater literacy and numeracy became operative in the early phases of modernization and that resulted from the Jewish role in pre-Modern Europe. As those advantages vanish, the Jewish gentile gap rapidly closes.

      Medieval Jewry brought an invention to the world that dwarfs the cultic importance of the various forms of Judaic religion from the Persian imperial period through today’s modern Rabbinic Judaism.

      First we must understand what Islam is. Fragmentary textual, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence indicates that Judean Christianity spread from Southern Palestine into Hijaz. Judean Christianity differs from Constantinian Christianity in that Jesus is Messiah but not divine.

      The names of Muhammad, his father, and his grandfather appear to be more like titles of authority in a religious community than like true names. This community seems to have observed and guarded the teachings of Jesus as it transitioned from Aramaic to Arabic.

      The Islamic religious history is self-contradictory, late, and non-consistent with texts closer to the start of Islamic rule in Syro-Palestine. Patricia Crone and Yehuda Nevo have been pioneers in analysing early contemporary religious history texts, epigraphy, archaeologic information, and numismatic data.

      The early historical Caliphs seem to have origins from the Roman-Byzantine foederati tribes that served as mercenaries for the Byzantine Empire in the S. East of the Roman-Byzantine Orient. Judean Christianity began to evolve into an Arab religion in Hijaz while the Byzantine empire became overextended and retrenched by pulling back from Syro-Palestine. The foederati took over rule of the region and in their earliest period served as an autonomous tributary government to the Roman-Byzantine government.

      Because religious and political authority were mixed, the new political entity needed its own religion, which would be acceptable to the populations of the Arabian, Syro-Palestinian, and Mesopotamian regions of the new polity.

      The political economic history of the transition from classical antiquity to Middle Ages is complex. We see a mixing of evolved Christian Judean ideas, concepts from the Talmudic academies in Mesopotamia, and Irano-Mesopotamian legal theory. The ultimate result was a separation of politics and economics or business. This separation did not exist in earlier polities. Islamic commercial networks expanded eastward by means of a common faith, developing sharia as a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), and an early form of modern banking.

      [As the nascent Islamic polity became richer and more powerful, it developed the standard Islamic religious history as a legitimization narrative. This narrative is not history in any objective sense but should be studied as an historical phenomenon.]

      Muslim merchants could not bring these developments to the West, but Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and N. African Judaic communities were well-positioned to develop the new business ideas and forms to bring them to Europe from Egypt via ship to France; from Morocco across Gibraltar into Spain, France, and the British Isles; from the Peloponessus and Attica into the Balkans; and from Pontus through the Caucasus into the Ukraine and E. Europe.

      The disproportionate wealth of Mesopotamian Jewry facilitated the enlistment of non-Mesopotamian Judaic communities as junior partners until the Mongol invasions.

      [At a later time period we see a similar process of recruitment of North African, Middle Eastern, S. Arabian, and Indian Jewish communities in the business endeavors of European Jews in conjunction with European colonialism.]

      As halakhah (Jewish sharia) became a universal commercial code, we see the crystallization of Rabbinic Judaism especially in the completion of a predictable calenderical system, better accounting techniques, efficient human trafficking (brought to Judaic religion by Phoenician converts of antiquity) along with associated medical or religious practices, and highly efficient highly extractive or exploitative banking practices especially attractive to rulers in Germano-Slav regions. Associated with these developments (identified by Botticini & Eckstein in The Chosen Few) is Talmudization of Judaic communities (identified by Talya Fishman in Becoming the People of the Talmud) and creation of Yiddish (identified by Paul Wexler in The Two-Tiered Relexification of Yiddish).

      WHILE JUDEANS PASSED ALMOST ENTIRELY IN ISLAM (SOME STUCK WITH CHRISTIANITY), JUDAIC COMMUNITIES DESCENDED FROM CONVERT POPULATIONS CREATED

      1) GLOBALIZED BUSINESS NETWORKS THAT WERE UNSTIFLED BY CENTRAL ECONOMIC DIRECTION AND

      2) MONETARY CONCENTRATIONS THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR EUROPE TO LEAVE THE MIDDLE AGES AND ENTER THE RENAISSANCE FOLLOWED BY MODERNIZATION THROUGH NEW SCIENTIFIC AND POLITICAL IDEAS AND STRUCTURES.

      There are substantial differences in the processes of the Talmudization/Mesopotamization:

      1) of Ibero-Berber or N. African Judaic communities and

      2) of Central and E. European Judaic communities.

      Talya Fishman discusses the some of the differences, but never seems fully to analyze the complete situation. Communities of type (2) were mostly using Latin, Greek, or other European languages and were isolated from Palestinian and Mesopotamian Judaism. Communities of type (1) represented a fusion of ancient Greek and Phoenician convert populations and while divergent from Palestinian and Mesopotamian Judaisms, these communities were not quite so isolated as the European Judaic communities were. The Masoretes seem to have been active in both Egypt and Palestine and to have applied Alexandrian textual apparatus to Hebrew scripture. Saadya Gaon was a major transition figure in the creation of Rabbinic Judaism and was active in Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. There is no comparable figure in the European Judaic communities although one might argue than the Tibbonides played a similar role albeit in a much smaller way.

      IN CREATING THE AFORESAID MONETARY CONCENTRATIONS EUROPEAN JEWS BECAME DE FACTO (WEST AND WEST CENTRAL EUROPE) AND DE JURE (EAST AND EAST CENTRAL EUROPE) PART OF THE 2ND ESTATE (CONSISTING OF TITLED ARISTORCRATS, NOBLES, AND CLOSE USUALLY JEWISH COLLABORATORS).

      SUCH IS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF RABBINIC JUDAISM (FIRST IDENTIFIED BY SOMBART ALTHOUGH VON TREITSCHKE SEEMS TO HAVE A PARTIAL UNDERSTANDING) OF WHICH ALL PEOPLE DESCENDED FROM MEDIEVAL JEWISH COMMUNITIES CAN BE PROUD, but the minds of meathead Zios are so rotted by their sick and perverted belief system that they put their efforts

      1) into antiquated 19th century style white racist genocidal European settler colonialism and

      2) into stealing the history or cultural product of the Greco-Roman Judean ancestors of Palestinians.

      Judaism and Jewishness have become so detestable because of Israel, Zionism, and Zios that no one even bothers to understand the real history of Judaism and the valuable contributions that Judaism has made to historical development. Today for scholars, progressives, and for decent human beings in general there can be no more noble calling than working to bury Israel and Zionism in the garbage dump of history.

      To reiterate, Jews had an advantage at the beginning of modernization because they tended to be more literate and numerate than most of the peoples among whom they lived. That advantage has almost entirely vanished at this point although I think there may be a residual musical advantage — especially in playing the violin, an esoteric skill that Armand Emmanuel Sophie Septimanie de Vignerot du Plessis, 5th Duke of Richelieu, 6th Duke of Fronsac, Count of Chinon, encouraged while he was governor-general of New Russia.

      In managing New Russia the Count de Chinon made a major change in the Czarist Empire because in dealing with a lack of administrative personnel, he placed Jews in administrative roles from which the Czarist Empire normally excluded them. This decision on the part of the Count de Chinon, who one must remember was a French Royalist and certainly not interested in Jewish emancipation, has effects among the descendants of the Jewish communities of New Russia to this day. New Russian Jews responded with a vengeance to the love of the Count de Chinon for certain types of music — especially the violin.

      I mention the Count de Chinon to assist understanding of the organizational structure of pre-Modern Europe, in which the Jews as untitled members de facto or de jure of the 2nd Estate provide the main commercial-financial stratum throughout Europe while the titled nobles/aristocrats served as an administrative political military stratum throughout Europe. Members of both strata often relocated throughout European regions with relative ease while maintaining the same role/job function. These two strata made use of scholarly strata one for gentiles and one for Jews. Occasionally there was some overlap in these two strata as a Jewish scholar converted to Christianity and became a notable scholar among gentiles. (The other job-change also occurs but is rarer.) The pre-Modern titles of these two scholarly strata generally continue in use to this day.

      • Mooser
        May 28, 2017, 12:50 pm

        I see your point, “Yoni”. The intersection of ethnicity, religion, and finance and family has been a staple of American literature and media.

      • Keith
        May 28, 2017, 4:28 pm

        YONIFALIC- “In truth, I don’t understand why Jews don’t embrace real Jewish history, in which Medieval Jews (including E. European Slavo-Turks) play the key role in the development of the modern world.”

        Perhaps because Zionist mythology provides a more effective basis for maintaining the sense of Jewish-Zionist kinship which has served the Jewish elites so well?

      • echinococcus
        May 28, 2017, 5:58 pm

        Keith,

        Good observation. The myth of the kinship of many totally unrelated groups, with religion only in common, seems really to be the keystone of all Jewish nationalism, including both Zionism and “non”-Zionist tribal groups –thus something to unmask and discredit at every opportunity.

        I wonder, though, if that same common descendence myth has perhaps been more effective even than shared religion in creating these international commercial networks that have assured Jewish success.

      • Mooser
        May 28, 2017, 8:26 pm

        “non”-Zionist tribal groups –thus something to unmask and discredit at every opportunity.”

        Okay, but you might want to make a better effort to distinguish between “unmasking” and “discrediting, and slander and malicious fantasies. Once you’ve got that down, go to it!

      • Keith
        May 29, 2017, 9:02 pm

        MOOSER- “…slander and malicious fantasies.”

        You mean like the myth of irrational and eternal anti-Semitism?

  8. Maghlawatan
    May 26, 2017, 8:56 am

    Both of his sons are dead. What a sad life.
    It is a very delicate subject, money and the community. It usually ends messily. There is no happy ending to debt bubbles either.

  9. Stephen Shenfield
    May 26, 2017, 5:32 pm

    It depends what is meant by the “Jewish community.” If there is such a thing. There is a lot of talk about “community”, which is supposed to be a good thing, and that is really very curious seeing that other words with the same root like “commune” and “communism” and “communist” are supposed to be not good at all (in fact, bad). At any rate, community, if it means anything at all, must be more than a mechanical aggregate of individuals with some identifying mark (in this case, Jewish origin). In practice “Jewish community” is used to refer to a set of powerful organizations with “Jewish” in their names. And the people who control these organizations, directly or indirectly through their money, are the corrupt 1%ers like Bernie Madoff. So the “Jewish community” is inevitably associated with their shenanigans. But, as I say, why pretend that it is a community at all?

    • Mooser
      May 26, 2017, 10:19 pm

      .” But, as I say, why pretend that it is a community at all? “

      Because we, as you say, all share “some identifying mark (in this case, Jewish origin)”.

      Oh BTW, where does the idea that “Jewish origin” is an “identifying mark” come from? Is that a Jewish idea?

      • CigarGod
        May 28, 2017, 9:12 am

        Allow me to butt in here with my big jewish pinocchio nose. Nah, let’s make it my big prince charles nose. Why not use an example closer to home…my big nose kate, nose.

  10. MHughes976
    May 26, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Govdrnments raise money in all sorts of ways, often by issuing bonds. But sometimes they find reason to do the job not by issuing a publicly known bond but by working through a financier. I don’t suppose that Israel is alone or even unusual in this, but I think that Madoff was recognised by his more sophisticated investors as running a fund for Israeli purposes, including the purposes of the universities and medical centres which Irving Picard, the Madoff trustee has sometimes sued, on the basis of exceptionally high returns for, as they would have known was inevitable, exceptionally high risk. If a financial crisis were to come along, which it did, the fund would be wiped out, but that is how things work. There were also perhaps less sophisticated people who did not understand that even powerful governments have to abandon some of their backers in some circumstances. But I can’t see how anyone, however unsophisticated, can have failed to sense that this was a way of investing in Israel. I’m not sure that M is such a bad person. The Israeli cause was his cause and he had, like a soldier caught in an ambush, to take personal responsibility when things went sour. There was a lot of tacit understanding of this, which I think is why his underlongs got, at least on the whole, light punishment. distinctly less than prosecutors made a show of demanding. I don’t think that we learn from this that the Jewish community is corrupted or money grubbing, just that they are a bit too ready, disastrously too ready, nice people as they are in so many ways, to back Israel in all things. We knew that, really.

    • Mooser
      May 26, 2017, 10:35 pm

      “If a financial crisis were to come along, which it did, the (Madoff) fund would be wiped out, but that is how things work

      Sure, why not? I guess to those on the inside, the unraveling of a Ponzi scheme might be referred to as a “financial crisis”.

  11. Sulphurdunn
    May 29, 2017, 2:37 pm

    Capitalism in general and investment banking in particular have always selected for talented psychopaths.

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