Most Jews do not recognize themselves in what Madoff did; they still expect to be judged on their own merits. I doubt this will happen. I think Jews will be judged as if we are all guilty, whether or not we are innocent or poor, and whether or not we fight for justice for Palestinians or for justice for murdered Chabadniks in Mumbai. Here’s one reason why. For days now, I have been following the media coverage of the Madoff scandal. I could not help but note that the New York Times kept emphasizing that he is Jewish and moved in monied, Jewish circles; not once, but time and again, in the same article, and in article after article. ‘Tis true, alas, ’tis true, the rogue is a Jew: But how exactly is Madoff’s religion more relevant than Rod Blagojevich’s religion? The Times has not described Blagojevich (or Kenneth Lay of Enron) as "Christians," nor do they describe the Arab or south Asian Muslim terrorists as "Muslims." As I’ve previously noted, the Times goes out of its way to describe terrorists who are ethnic Arab Muslims and south Asian Muslims as "gunmen," "attackers," "fighters," (never as terrorists), and they rarely use the word "Arab" or "Muslim" to characterize the perpetrators of a deadly rogue action. However, the paper of record will use the word "Muslim" to describe an aggrieved victim who has alleged "Islamophobia" or "racism." After tracking Saturday’s New York Times‘ coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal, I finally felt I had to "say something." So, I wrote this Letter to The Editor:
Re: "Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Crossing Borders" (December 20th): "On the surface, Diana B. Henriques describes what appears to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Here’s my problem: While we learn that con artist Bernard L. Madoff and his ‘feeder,’ Ezra Merkin are Jewish and that many of their victims (Katzenberg, Spielberg, Weisel, Zuckerman), are also Jewish, we are never told the religious affiliations of any of Madoff’s other "feeders" (Walter M. Noel, Andre Piedrahita, Yanko Della Schiava, Phillip J. Toub, Jeffrey Tucker, Matthew Brown,) or the religious affiliation of additional Madoff victims. For example, Heriques does not tell us the religious affiliations of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Banco Santander, A.G. Edwards and Sons, Korea Life Insurance, Cathay Life, Samsung Investment and Securities, Bank Medici, (headed by Peter Scheithauer), etc. What is the point of identifying the Jews but no one else?"
Maybe they’ll publish it, maybe they’ll even have a change of heart. (Sometimes I have moments of delusion). Look: It still might see the light of day over there. But, the day after I sent this letter, I saw that David Harris of the American Jewish Committee had just published a letter along the same lines in their pages. Harris’s letter was pegged to an article which had appeared on December 13, 2008. This means that the Times had more than a week to re-examine or change their policy. Clearly, they decided not to do so. People often wonder: What did they know and when did they know it –referring to political corruption scandals or to the cover-ups of monumental disasters like genocide? We now know that the Times knows precisely what they are doing. Just as Bernie Madoff did. Yes, of course, Madoff’s betrayal is unforgivable. He has gutted an entire generation of Jewish philanthropic wealth, destroyed trust within the Jewish philanthropic world but, far more important, impoverished widows, orphans, and the elderly and, in so doing, endangered and shamed the Jewish people at a time when we have many real, not merely neurotically imagined enemies. The fact that Arab and African oil sheikhs and countless tyrants on every continent impoverish and destroy their own people, their neighbors, and their enemies every single day is irrelevant. The world does not hold non-Jews accountable for the harm that they do. Only Jews are expected to meet their own high Jewish standards (for which they are hated and envied). But woe to the Jew who flagrantly betrays those standards and woe to the Jewish nation that has spawned him. In the Middle East, graft and nepotism make the wheels turn. Everyone is on the take. Beggars aren’t beggars, entire civil services are staffed by one or two clans. I could tell you a thing or two about corruption in southern Asia today, let’s say in Afghanistan, that would make Heller’s Catch-22 seem like child’s play. Everyone, from the President on down is on the take and opium is a most abundant and attractive cash crop. The Afghan drug lords are addicting, infecting, and murdering entire global populations with their poppies as are those who buy and sell the heroin. No one holds the Afghans accountable. But woe to the Jewish nation that has harbored, abetted, profited from, or has even been fleeced by Madoff, the greedmaster. Read Isaiah, it’s all in there.