Jews and money: The stereotype, the history, the reality – J.

How did the Jews make money. Jews and the money myth

Donate The idea that Jews are innately good with money is among the oldest Jewish stereotypes, one that continues to impact perceptions of Jews today.

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As with many stereotypes, this one has its origins in fact. Jews have long been well-represented in the fields of finance and business.

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This is commonly attributed to the fact that for centuries, Jews were excluded from professional guilds and denied the right to own land, forcing them to work as merchants and financiers. Whatever its causes, Jewish business and financial success has more often than not been a major driver of anti-Semitism. That caricature lent a sinister undertone of greed and exploitation to Jewish financial dealings that would be invoked to justify anti-Jewish measures for centuries to come.

Related slurs include claims that Jews are wealthy, greedy and stingy, obsessed with material goods and profit, and that they exploit their economic advantages to help their own people, to the detriment of the public good.

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Wikimedia Jews have been associated with moneylending for at least a millennia. The most common explanation for this has been the exclusion of European Jews in the Middle Ages from various guilds, their confinement to ghettos and restrictions preventing them from owning land. Additionally, medieval Christian theology held that charging interest known as usury was sinful, which kept many Christians from becoming financiers. The field thus came to be dominated by Jews.

An alternative explanation holds that the Jewish penchant for finance is a result not of professional exclusion, but the Jewish emphasis on learning and literacy. A number of scholars have posited versions of this thesis. In their book The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History,economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein contended that, with the destruction of the ancient temples in Jerusalem and the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora, Jewish continuity suddenly became dependent on widespread religious literacy.

Those who educated themselves remained Jews, whereas those who did not assimilated or converted to other faiths. Over time, the Jewish community evolved into a uniquely educated population, which in turn incentivized Jews to abandon farming in favor of better-paying professions and businesses.

Evolution of a Stereotype Shylock James D. Linton From the fact of Jewish overrepresentation in occupations that Christians largely regarded as degenerate emerged a stereotype of the Jew as the embodiment of commercial greed, exploiter of the poor and the source of economic pain and misery for the masses.

Jews and money: The stereotype, the history, the reality – J.

Perhaps nothing did more to solidify this image in the European imagination than The Merchant of Venice. In this play, written in the late 16th century, Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who extends a loan guaranteed by a pound of flesh from the Christian merchant Antonio. Though scholars disagree whether Shakespeare was reflecting the ingrained anti-Semitism of his day or offering a subtle critique of it, Shylock has become synonymous not merely with Jewish greed but with anti-Semitism generally, a perception deepened by early onstage portrayals of the character as a vengeful villain.

Shylock had a lasting influence on the depiction of Jews in English literature and was used as a propaganda device by the Nazis. Jews did hold prominent financial positions in Europe, which made them ready scapegoats in times of economic crisis.

In the s, one of those court Jews, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, established a banking business in Germany that would eventually grow into a vast international conglomerate and yield one of the largest family fortunes in world history. The Rothschild name became synonymous with Jewish financial power, invoked as shorthand for the secretive and outsized power Jews were alleged to wield over the economic fate of the world. Despite his own Jewish ancestry his parents converted the family to Protestantism when he was a child Karl Marxthe philosopher who first popularized the idea that capitalism is inherently exploitative, singled out Jews in particular for their role in promoting it.

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As moneylending evolved into institutionalized banking, How did the Jews make money continued to occupy major positions in the financial world. Across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, Jews built a number of influential banks, further feeding anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. With mass Jewish immigration to the United States beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jews assumed prominent how did the Jews make money in the growing financial center of New York, establishing Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and others.

They also figured prominently in government financial positions.

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Between andthe U. Federal Reserve was chaired by a succession of three Jews.

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Four of the eight men who served as U. Treasury secretary between and were Jewish. Three of the 12 presidents of the World Bank between its founding in and have been Jewish.

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Jews are also significantly overrepresented among the wealthiest Americans. Half of the 10 richest Americans in were Jewish, according to Forbes, despite Jews making up less than 2 percent of the U.

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When Donald J. In China, eagerness to mimic Jewish business success has driven a recent publishing trend purporting to reveal the secrets to wealth contained in ancient Jewish texts.

In the West, however, talk of Jewish prominence in finance is more frequently pernicious. Such ideas have also been internalized by the general public.

According to studies conducted by the ADLsubstantial percentages of respondents in virtually every country surveyed believe Jews have too much power in business and international financial markets.

Roughly half of respondents in France agreed with that idea, as did one-third of Germans and nearly three-quarters of Egyptians. Even in the United States, where anti-Semitism is fairly low by global standards, some 18 percent of respondents said Jews have too much power in the business world. Goldberg offered one way to draw that line.