New York, NY, December 19, 2008 … The arrest of a Jewish businessman whose alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme drained the finances of private investors, philanthropic foundations and banks has prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that the public comment sections of highly trafficked news sites, blogs, and financial message boards that have featured material on the scandal surrounding Bernard Madoff and his investment firm are filled with anti-Semitic comments, mostly from anonymous users.
Site users have posted comments ranging from deeply offensive stereotypical statements about Jews and money -- with some suggesting that only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale -- to conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel. These and other anti-Jewish tropes have appeared on popular blogs devoted to finance, in comment sections of mainstream news outlets and in banter among users of Internet discussion groups.
"Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Nowadays, the first place Jew-haters will go is to the Internet, where they can give voice to their hateful ideas without fear of repercussions."
The League has posted on its Web site examples of the anti-Semitic postings appearing on mainstream news sites. ADL is also featuring selected anti-Jewish comments posted to white supremacist and extremist Web sites relating to the Madoff scandal.
"Blogging and social media sites are changing the way people communicate their reactions to events in the news and interact with each other," said Mr. Foxman. "More people are online than ever before, and many more Web sites offer users the ability to comment immediately and anonymously. Those who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs feel most comfortable expressing themselves in cyberspace, where they can provoke a reaction from others or find like-minded individuals to affirm their beliefs."
Popular news sites in New York and Florida – the two epicenters of the Madoff story – have seen their share of anti-Semitic posts since the scandal broke. At one point the comment section of The Palm Beach Post featured numerous anti-Jewish posts (subsequently removed by the site's administrators); other high-traffic sites with anti-Semitic posts have included the comment-enabled sections of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Forbes, New York Magazine, the New York Post, and Israeli web sites of Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post.
Examples of anti-Semitic postings include:
- "The greed and corruption of the Jews has brought the financial system and the American economy low." – post by "jeanrenoir" on portfolio.com.
- Ho hum, another Crooked Wall Street Jew. Find a Jew who isn't Crooked. Now that would be a story – anonymous post on dealbreaker.com.
- One Jew thief robs another bunch of Jew thieves – I suppose that's what you'd call a victimless crime. I suppose if he'd not scre*ed his fellow Jews – and robbed us poor gentiles it would've been absolutely kosher, eh?" – post by "XDFXDFXDF" on nymag.com.
- "Nice he could manage to send money to Isreal (sic) and pass the losses on to US investors." – post by "cbmiked" on Forbes.com.
- "Just another jew money changer thief. It's been happening for 3,000 years. Trust a Jew and this is what will happen. History has proven it over and over. Jews have only one god – money." – post by "Adolf" on PalmBeachPost.com.
- Madoff is "another Jew banker … The Sec is filled with Jewish gatekeepers who routinely turn a blind eye to jewish financial bandits … It's no conspiracy that the Jews are the source of all the financial troubles in the world." – post by "Thieving Bastards" on sunsentinel.com.