Comment is Free published today, Bernie Madoff, Bad for the Jews, a slightly different version of a post I published here just after the Madoff scandal began. While I’m not surprised at the high number of deleted comments which apparently were anti-Semitic, I AM surprised at the number of commenters who argue that Madoff’s Jewishness and the religion of many of his clients has nothing to do with the story. One commenter argues that if Madoff weren’t Jewish I’d be writing the story quite differently. But that’s the point, isn’t it? He IS Jewish.
Are we so frightened of anti-Semitism that we should cover this story without making reference to Madoff’s religion? Even if he himself used his religion as part of the marketing of his financial empire? I’m not prepared to look at every incident as to whether it’s good or bad for the Jews (I didn’t choose the CiF title for my piece by the way). I’m not prepared to quake at the possibility that anti-Semites will come out of woodwork when we discuss this matter. Let them. If we DIDN’T discuss this, then the anti-Semites would point that out as well and they’d be right to do so. We have nothing to hide and nothing for which to be afraid or ashamed. It is vital that Madoff’s crimes be discussed and lessons learned including ones that relate specifically to the Jewish world.