cover image Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype

Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype

Abraham H. Foxman, Palgrave, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-230-62385-9

As national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Foxman has dedicated himself to fighting anti-Semitism and all kinds of bigotry. In the wake of the Madoff scandal, Foxman (The Deadliest Lies) and his ADL colleagues saw a flood of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites, prompting him to explore age-old unfair stereotypes about Jews and money. Many of Foxman's arguments against the myths are familiar, beginning with the New Testament story of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver— symbol for medieval Christians of Jewish treachery motivated by greed. Foxman says that the image of Jew as moneylender has become an element in some Muslims' anti-Semitism (as Islam forbids usury), and he shows that anti-Semitic beliefs have become alarmingly popular in Japan. The author contends that Jewish religion and tradition are exceptional for their special emphasis on generosity, charity, and fair economic dealings. To combat irrational bigotry, he urges Jews to "live good lives according to their best values" without being defensive—and stresses that all Americans be committed to opposing hatred no matter what group is being victimized. His lucid and authoritative book makes many valid points, but it's also familiar and platitudinous, preaching to the converted. (Nov.)