No good deed goes unpunished

Guest post by Judeosphere

Financier Bernard Madoff has been arrested for a $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Madoff is Jewish, and he made use of social and personal networks to rip off some of the largest Jewish philanthropic organizations in the United States. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, assessed the damage:

“Major Jewish foundations have lost 50% to 100% of their assets, which means tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis won’t be given away…people taken in by him have lost billions of dollars. And those donors over a period of 10 years from now won’t be giving away huge amounts of money to Jewish or secular causes…You’ve already got this climate of fear and uncertainty. We’ve lost trillions of dollars in housing assets, and trillions in equities and other investments. People are already remarkably cautious about giving the money away. And now the message is you can’t trust where you’ve invested your money.”

To the surprise of virtually nobody, the Madoff scandal has unleashed the usual wave of online antisemitic commentary about crafty Jews and money. The ADL has put together a report, as has a blogger over at the Huffington Post.

But the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles sees at least one silver lining: a wider awareness of the extent of Jewish philanthropy:

The standard worry is that Madoff’s actions will give rise to a vicious anti-Semitic backlash. But I don’t see it, despite the fact that all the cretinous Jew-haters have come forward online, using this scandal as proof of Jewish financial perfidy. But will their spew gain more traction in the wider community? I doubt it….the list of victims reveals something truly remarkable about the Jewish world: its deep and far-reaching philanthropy….they spend much, if not all, of their time and resources helping non-Jews.

Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation supports more than 75 diverse organizations and institutions, from the American Museum of Natural History to the Young Musicians Foundation. It gave generously to Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, two institutions founded by Los Angeles Jews that serve a largely non-Jewish population.

A much-loved anti-Semitic trope is that “tentacles” of Jewish power encircle Wall Street, the White House, the media. But the truth is that it is the tentacles of Jewish philanthropy that reach far beyond our small, numerically insignificant community.

Public radio? The Carl & Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation gave millions to WGBH in Boston. According to The Boston Globe, the Shapiro Foundation gave more than $80.3 million over the past decade to hundreds of schools, hospitals, arts groups and community-based nonprofits in the Boston area and beyond. Human rights? The JEHT Foundation in Massachusetts gave millions to the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, among many other organizations.

Indeed, the Forward reports:

Madoff’s disgrace promises to affect, among others, the youngsters of rural Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, who were being sent to juvenile detention centers without first being able to consult a lawyer. The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center used a $250,000 grant from the JEHT Foundation this year, in part to support legal action to stop this practice. But the money the foundation has lost with Madoff has forced JEHT to close, and the Center does not now know where it will receive future funding to continue this work.

However, one group of people find this news to be a cause for celebration: anti-Zionist pundits.

Here’s the spin from Daniel McGowan, a Professor Emeritus at Hobart and William Smith Colleges:

As the list of Madoff’s “victims” grows, their common characteristic is not philanthropy, but rather political Zionism. Virtually all have worked to build a Jewish state with little regard, and often downright hatred, for the non-Jewish population living there.

Other victims of Madoff’s deception, like the Shapiro Family Foundation and the Chais Family Foundation, are undoubtedly genuinely philanthropic and well-meaning. But insofar as their gifts support Jews-only education, medicine, and social programs in Israel, they deserve the derision that would be accorded to Aryan philanthropists or others who support a racist state, one whose very laws favor one chosen group over all the rest.

(McGowan also attacks the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which, he says, is run by “The Great Weasel.”)

Over at Palestine Think Tank, Sami Jadil Jadallah writes:

When the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” came out back in 1971, it was such a big hit with me that I took 4 different dates to see it….Good thing Tevye did not live to see the day when a fellow Jew, Bernard Madoff stiffed so many rich and elite Jews out of tens of billions of dollars….Since many of these charities and major Jewish personalities are heavy investors in Israel and Israeli causes, I wonder how many of these charities that lost money with Bernard Madoff support and finance Jewish settler terrorism and Jewish terrorism…..It will not be a surprise if some members of the Congress who feel Jewish charities suffered major losses that prevent them from continuing the support they give to these criminal Jewish settlers will add the Bernard Madoff Investment to the list of financial institutions qualifying for the $700 Billion bail-out.

And my personal favorite, “anti-Zionist” academic, James Petras—who has previously uncovered a sinister plot among Jewish dentists to take over America—is doubly delighted, since it’s a blow against both capitalism and Zionism:

It is worthwhile to list the inadvertent positive outcomes of Madoff’s mega-swindle. First of all the swindle of $50 plus billion dollars may make a big dent on US Zionist funding of illegal Israeli colonial settlements in the Occupied Territories, lessen funding for AIPAC’s purchase of Congressional influence and financing of propaganda campaigns in favor of a pre-emptive US military attack against Iran. Most investors will have to lower or eliminate their purchase of Israel bonds, which subsidize the Jewish State’s military budget.

Apart from severe bank losses, tens of thousands of influential, affluent and super-rich lost their entire accumulated wealth. The result is total loss of confidence in the leading banks and financial instruments as well as the general discrediting of ‘expert knowledge’. The result is a weakening of the financial stranglehold over investor behavior and the demise of an important sector of the parasitic ‘rentier’ class, which gains without producing any useful commodities or providing needed services.

Tell that to the Juvenile Law Center.