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Jewish finance, also referred to as Jews and money, Jewish plutocracy and Jewish capitalism has been considered by a wide variety of authors, including Abraham Foxman in his book Jews and Money, Gerald Krefetz in his book Jews and Money, Werner Sombart in his book The Jews and Modern Capitalism, J. J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power, Salo Wittmayer Baron and Arcadius Kahan in their book Economic history of the Jews, Werner Eugen Mosse in his book Jews in the German Economy, Jerry Muller in his book Capitalism and the Jews, Gideon Reuveni in his book The Economy in Jewish History, Derek Penslar in his book Shylock's children: economics and Jewish identity in modern Europe, Jacob Neusner in his book The Economics of the Mishnah, and Karl Marx✡ in his On the Jewish Question.
The Tanakh contains passages that govern the charging of interest. During the middle ages in some countries, Jews were excluded from many occupations. An occupation available to them was moneylending. They worked closely with the monarchies in Latin Rite Catholic countries. Modern banking in Europe and the United States was influenced by Jewish financiers, such as the Rothschild family and Warburg family, and Jews were major contributors to the establishment of important investment banks on Wall Street. They played significant roles in the Dutch Empire, the British Empire, the German Empire, the French Empire and today the American Empire.
- 1 Religion
- 2 Moneylending in the Middle Ages
- 3 Rise of Capitalism
- 4 Banking
- 5 Cultural attitudes
- 6 Quotes
- 7 Videos
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Rabbinic and Talmudic guidance
Marvin Perry states that the Talmud deviates widely from the early Christian approach to money: whereas the New Testament viewed money and profit as "filthy lucre" (1 Tim 3:3), the Talmud took a positive view of money and profit because the Talmud "was written, compiled and edited, taught and interpreted for centuries by rabbis who were merchants, artisans, and professional men, knowledgeable and accepting of business and finance, in theory and practice."
Penslar states that the Talmud contains a large amount of economic material, including many "economic sensibilities" such as the notion that wealth should be enjoyed and the rejection of poverty, but he suggests that the Talmud did not promulgate an identifiable "economic philosophy".
- Exodus 22:25 - "If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest"
- Leviticus 25:35-37 - "If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit."
Gentile views of money
Theologian Michael Novak suggests that Jewish thought has a "candid orientation" towards profit, property, and commercial activity, in contrast to Catholic thought which is focused on the afterlife, rather than life in this world.
According to Marvin Perry, Christianity - particularly when contrasted with Judaism in the Middle Ages - had an ascetic, anti-commercial viewpoint that was based on the Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 6, in which Jesus condemned the superficiality of materialism and where he "urges his followers to throw over worldly possessions and all considerations of getting and spending, family, position, and status."
Regarded as materialistic rather than spiritual
Several leading thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx✡, Max Weber, Werner Sombart, and Georg Hegel, compared Judaism with Christianity, and concluded that Judaism was more materialistic, and less moral. These thinkers influenced subsequent interpretation of Judaism's role in the rise of capitalism in Europe in the late nineteenth century.
The most consequential thinker addressing this issue was Karl Marx✡ in his 1843 work On the Jewish Question (sometimes translated into English with the title A World Without Jews). Gerald Krefetz cites a quote from Marx✡ which is representative of Marx's✡ beliefs: "Let us look at the real Jew of our times ... What is the Jew's foundation in our world? Material necessity, private advantage. What is the object of the Jew's worship in this world? Usury. What is his worldly god? Money. Money is the zealous one God of Israel, besides which no other God may stand. The bill of exchange is the Jew's real God".
Anti-capitalist views of Judaism
During the nineteenth century, many leading thinkers began to promote socialism and anti-capitalist viewpoints. Because capitalism was closely associated with Jews, anti-capitalists often considered Judaism to be the root of capitalism. Those that embraced capitalism tended to be sympathetic to Jews, and those that rejected capitalism tended to be hostile to Jews.
Marx✡ believed that earning a living from collecting interest (or from acting as a middleman) was an unjust and exploitive aspect of capitalism. Because many Jews were employed in such non-productive occupations, Jews were singled out for particular criticism by Marx✡, and he blamed Judaism for the exploitation and alienation of workers. Moses Mendelssohn argued, to the contrary, that commercial activity was just as valid and beneficial as manual labor, writing "Many a merchant, while quietly engaged at is desk in forming commercial speculations ... produces ... more than the most active and noisy mechanic or tradesman."
Moneylending in the Middle Ages
Moneylending was an important occupation for Jews, beginning in the early Middle Ages, and continuing into the modern era. Moneylending was first noted as a significant occupation in the ninth century, and in the tenth century, some Jews were large scale financiers. This prevalence in the field of moneylending has led to scholarly debate which considered the question of why Jews gravitated towards money-related occupations.
Voluntary or involuntary occupation?
Moneylending was one of the remaining occupations that were not prohibited for Jews. The exclusion of Jews from many trades and craft guilds began following the First Crusade (1096-1099) The exclusion often came at the urging of clergy and local guild members, state and local governments. Howard Sachar writes that the occupations that were left for Jews to engage in were often the occupations that Christians disdained, such as peddling, hawking and moneylending, and he estimates that three fourths of Jews in Central and Western Europe were occupied in these occupations in the eighteenth century.
Abraham Foxman says many Jews in that era were especially well suited for commerce, because the Jewish diaspora caused many Jews to have far-flung networks of friends and family, which facilitated trade. Foxman writes that the moneylending profession gave rise, eventually, to the modern financial industries, including banking. Over time, Jews became very skilled at both commerce and moneylending.'
Werner Sombart, in his book The Jews and Modern Capitalism, asserts that moneylending was an occupation that many Jews preferred, and voluntarily engaged in. As evidence, Sombart cites the fact that Jews were heavily engaged in moneylending before the era when they were excluded from trades and crafts; and also the fact that the religion and culture of Judaism predisposed Jews to commercial and financial endeavors.
The Christian abhorrence of moneylending was rooted in the Old Testament laws of Exodus 22:25, Deuteronomy 23:19-20, Leviticus 25:35-37, and Psalms 15:5. These biblical rules were re-emphasized in the Middle Ages in the Lateran councils particularly the Second Lateran Council of 1139 and the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, however these proclamations of the Catholic Church outlawed excessively high interest rates, not interest in general.
Usury as an act of Jewish revenge
Some Christians in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries considered interest paid to Jews to be a form of "Jewish revenge". Derek Penslar suggests that the act of charging interest to non-Jews was encouraged by Jewish leaders as a way of harming non-Jews, and as examples Penslar cites Jewish authority Maimonides who wrote (discussing Deuteronomy 23:20) in his Mishneh Torah: "'We have been commanded to burden the Gentile with interest, and thus to lend to him, not to help him, nor to deal graciously with him, but rather to harm him…". Penslar also writes that notable rabbis in medieval Europe encouraged moneylending to non-Jews as a way of exacting revenge for hostile behavior by non-Jews towards Jews.  Essayist Heinrich Heine described an analogous motivation, when he claimed that the Rothschild family's financial triumphs were a vehicle of revenge against non-Jews for centuries of oppression by Christians.
In the 21st century, now when a person obtains an automobile by financing it, if they are a few days late on a payment, then lender can remotely disable the vehicle from starting. They can even suddenly stop a person's car while they are driving down the freeway. The devices also have GPS tracking of vehicles.
Rise of Capitalism
Mortgages and bills-of-exchange
Jews played an important role in the dissemination of financial innovations such as mortgages, paper money, and bills of exchange. Bills of exchange (also called negotiable instruments) first appeared in Europe in the twelfth century in Italy, although the concept originated earlier in China and Islamic trading communities. Werner Sombart speculates that, because Jews played a role as intermediaries in Mediterranean trading, they were uniquely positioned to import Islamic financial techniques into Europe. Sombart also analyzed historical evidence of Jewish participation in the establishment of early important banks in Europe (including the Bank of Amsterdam, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Hamburg) and concluded that Jews played an important role in the creation of important early banking concepts in Europe. Sombart also suggested that Jews played an essential role in the creation of mortgage deeds and "pay to bearer" negotiable instruments.
Modern banking arose in Europe during the 19th century. Before the age of modern banking, most bankers were private bankers, affiliated with nobility, and lending exclusively to nobility and governments. But in the nineteenth century, spurred at first by financing required for the the Napoleonic wars and then by the explosion of railroads in Europe, banks evolved into large commercial entities, lending to the public, and often publicly traded.
Most European banks were founded by Jews or Protestants. Jews were founders and leaders of many of the important early European Banks, as well as significant banks in the United States. The prevalence of Jews in European banking continued from the early 19th century to World War I. Jews played leading roles in banking, financing wars, financing the railroad industry, and the establishment of stock exchanges.
Especially in Germany and Austria, Jewish bankers were dominant in the country's economic development. Marvin Perry writes: "[in the period 1850 to 1910] German Jewish economic elite contributed decisively to the country's economic development, its financial institutions, its industrialization, and its entry into the world market as a great economic power by 1890. That elite also played a significant role in underwriting the costs of Germany's wars of unification (1864-1871)." In 1860 there were 106 Jewish banks and 51 non-Jewish banks in Berlin, while Jews comprised only 1% of the German population. England also had a significant Jewish participation in its banking industry: in 1904, out of the 63 banks in England in 1904, 33 were Jewish firms.
In 2008, the US government bailed out failing jewish corporations after the jewish corporate criminal leaders fleeced the companies dry. The US government used the taxpayers' money to do this and did this against the taxpayers' wishes. In 2014, AIG, one of the jewish corporations bailed out, sued the US government for bailing it out. The head AIG jew in charge of suing the government for giving it free money was Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg.
Derek Penslar writes that Jewish journalists of the nineteenth century in Europe represented Jewish civilization as producing a "capitalistic sensibility", in contrast to Christianity which did not. Gerald Krefetz writes that money "was and is a central element in the Jewish experience" because, among other reasons, money has often served to protect Jews against persecution. Jews feel ambivalent towards money because on the one hand it is a powerful force, but on the other non-Jews have sometimes blamed financial problems on Jews.
Wealth as protection against persecution
Krefetz states that many Jews, particularly Americans, treat money very seriously because it has "stood between life and death", that is, throughout history there are many times when Jews would have been expelled or oppressed if not for their financial usefulness. Krefetz concludes that, for that reason, Jews - although they do not worship money - have often considered money to be "essential" to their material being, as essential as God is to their spiritual being.  This attitude, engendered over many centuries, has produced the viewpoint that money is a critical to their survival and thus the "manipulation, earning, creation, and saving of money has been raised to a fine art… which is passed from generation to generation."
Pride in achievements
Economic success has long been a source of pride for Jews: in the late nineteenth century, Jewish writers drew a positive link between Jews, trade, and economic freedom, and speculated proudly on the sources of Jewish economic success, and the editors of leading German-Jewish newspapers stressed the contribution of Jews to economic development through their commercial acumen. Penslar notes that in France, in 1820-1860,there was a strong feeling of "triumphalism" within the Jewish community, celebrating their rise in influence and prosperity within European circles.
Wealth should be enjoyed
Jewish author Steven Bayme writes that Jews have eschewed poverty, and have a positive view of wealth, provided it is a "means rather than an end". Abraham Foxman contrasts the asceticism of Christianity with the exuberance of Judaism, and concludes that Jewish culture has a belief in "enjoying life to the fullest" which is sometimes manifested in apparently materialistic attitudes. Derek Penslar states that one of the principles enunciated in the Talmud is that "wealth ... should be enjoyed"
|“||Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world; only to serve the People of Israel. Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. With gentiles, it will be like any person: They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant. That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.||”|
|— Ovadia Yosef,✡ Chief Rabbi of Israel, 2010.|
|“||The essence of the Jewish Idea to its influence on the labor world is the same as in all other departments-the destruction of real values in favor of fictitious values. The Jewish philosophy of money is not to "make money," but to "get money." The distinction between these two is fundamental. That explains Jews being "financiers" instead of "captains of industry." It is the difference between "getting" and "making." The creative, constructive type of mind has an affection for the thing it is doing. The non-Jewish worker formerly chose the work he liked best. He did not change employment easily, because there was a bond between him and the kind of work he had chosen. Nothing else was so attractive to him. He would rather draw a little less money and do what he liked to do, than a little more and do what irked him. The "maker" is always thus influenced by his liking. Not so the "getter." It doesn't matter what he does, so long as the income is satisfactory. He has no illusions, sentiments or affections on the side of work. It is the "geld" that counts. He has no attachment for the things he makes, for he doesn't make any; he deals in the things which other men make and regards them solely on the side of their money-making value. "The joy of creative labor" is nothing to him, not even an intelligible saying.||”|
|— Henry Ford, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, 1920.|
|“||Jewish financial and business interests were important participants in the imperialist enterprise. For example, the Indian railroad network that the Sassoons helped to finance was closely integrated into the imperial administration, and Julius Reuter's wire service functioned as the command and control mechanism of the colonial government. Upon occasion, the British government also turned to Jewish banking houses to finance imperial expansion. Disraeli's purchase of the Suez Canal in 1878, for example, was made possible by Henry Oppenheim's extensive contacts in Egypt and a four million pound loan from Lionel Rothschild. The role played by Jewish capital in the creation of Britain's nineteenth-century empire was not lost on its critics. In his classic work, which became the basis of Lenin’s theory of imperialism, J. A. Hobson argued that "men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them centuries of financial experience," formed "the central ganglion of international capitalism."||”|
|— Benjamin Ginsberg,✡ The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, 1999.|
|“||Empire, of course, was also a field for pursuit of profit. The house of Rothschild concerned itself mainly with loans to governments and public bodies. However, in the 1890s it became heavily involved in diamond and gold mining on the Rand. When Alfred Beit and Julius Wernher floated Rand Mines in February 1893, Rothschilds were alloted 27,000 of the 100,000 shares. The scandals that beset the Edwardian Jewish plutocracy also illustrate Jews' involvement in the empire as a money making enterprise. The Marconi scandal of 1912, is it well known, centered on the allegation that four Liberal cabinet minister stood to profit from a contract awarded to the English Marconi Company. Two of the cabinet ministers in question — Sir Rufus Isaacs and Herbert Samuel — were Jews. The head of the English Marconi Company was Geoffrey Isaacs, the brother of Sir Rufus.||”|
|— David Feldman,✡ Jews and the British Empire, 2007.|
|“||I know that there are some Jews in the English colonies. These Marranos go wherever there is money to be made...But whether these circumcised who sell old clothes claim that they are of the tribe of Naphtali or Issachar is not of the slightest importance. They are, simply, the biggest scoundrels who have ever dirtied the face of the earth.||”|
|— Voltaire, Letter to Jean-Baptiste Nicolas de Lisle de Sales, 1773.|
- Ayn Rand
- Jewish Bolshevism
- List of Jewish billionaires
- From Court Jews to the Rothschilds by the Jewish Museum of New York
- Neusner, p 1
- Perry p 124
- Baba Mezi‘a 5 online
- Perry p 165
- "More fundamental than language and other customs in shaping Jewish attitudes and practice was the Talmud. It takes a positive stance with regard to economic activity, in sharp contrast to the New Testament and Patristic [early Christian] theologians who were vigilant against, as they thought it to be, filthy lucre and serving Mammon, and thus incorporated a strong, mystical, anti-worldly, anti-economic strain in Christian theology and ethics. The Talmud, by contrast, was written, compiled and edited, taught and interpreted for centuries by rabbis who were merchants, artisans, and professional men, knowledgeable and accepting of business and finance, in theory and practice. They were family men, and some of them earned their living as merchants and the like, so as to serve the community without pay."
- Penslar, p 52
- The Jewish bible and Talmud "contain a great deal of economic material … but the Talmud offers no coherent economic philosophy…. Although Rabbinic and medieval Judaism lacked an economic philosophy, it had identifiable economic sensibilities. One was the rejection of the idea of poverty; wealth, when properly and ethically acquired, was to be enjoyed. In this the Jewish tradition corresponded more to Islamic civilization than to that of Christendom."
- *Foxman, p 59
- Perry, p 123
- Muller, p 86. Muller is quoting Novak:
- Novak, Michael, This Hemisphere of Liberty, American Enterprise Institute, 1992, p 64
- Perry p 121
- "The prevalence in the Latin Christian world of a strongly ascetic, anti-commercial ethic that derived from Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.... Jesus ...urges his followers to throw over worldly possessions and all considerations of getting and spending, family, position, and status. ... [in the medieval world] The Merchants trafficking entailed the taint of this world …"
- Krefetz, pp 41-44:
- "Jews were familiar with trading and exchanging, commerce, city living, property rights, ... and accumulation of funds for future investment ... These were Jewish traits before the rise of capitalism. This has led to speculation that Jews were the first capitalists." Krefetz goes on to discuss the rise of capitalism, and the role Jews played; he discusses various views presented by Karl Marx✡, Max Weber, and Werner Sombart".
- Krefetz p 42-43
- Krefetz, pp 41-44
- Foxman, p 98
- Muller, p 12
- Perry, pp 153-156
- Perry, pp 153-6
- Muller, p 112
- Muller quotes from Moses Mendelssohn, Response to Dohm" (1782), in Mendes-Flohr, Jews in the Modern World, Oxford University Press US, 1995, p 46
- Kahan, p 257
- Kahan, p 257
- Foxman, p 58
- "This [commerce] was a business to which the Jews were well suited for historical reasons ... many Jews had friends and family members spread out over a large part of the then-known world, which became the basis of trading networks ..."
- Foxman, p 58
- Foxman, p 58
- Sombart, p 300-301
- Sombart, pp 309-310
- Foxman p 59
- Perry, p 123
- Foxman, p 59
- Penslar, p 17
- Penslar, p 17; Foxman p 59.
- Perry, p 133
- Penslar, p 53
- Penslar quotes Maimonides Mishneh Torah commentary on Positive Commandment #198.
- Penslar, p 53
- For further detail, Penslar cites:
- Baron, Maimonides, pp 212,226-28;
- Stein, Sigfried, "Interest Taken by Jews from Gentiles: An Evaluation of Source Material (14th to 17th centuries), in Journal of Semitic Studies, 1 (1956), p 147.
- Penslar, p 154
- Sombart, pp 63-64
- Sombart, pp 65-68
- Sombart, p 71
- Sombart pp 76-77
- Cameron, p 6-7
- Cameron, p 6-7
- Dimont, p 273
- Perry, p 138
- Cassis, p 66
- Cameron, p 6-7
- Perry, p 147
- Perry, p 147
- Perry, p 138
- Perry, p 138
- Sombart, p 106
- Penslar, p 147
- Krefetz, p 6
- Krefetz, p 6
- Krefetz, pp 5-6
- Krefetz, pp 5-6
- Krefetz, pp 29-30
- Muller, pp 2, 115-6
- Penslar, p 148
- Bayme, Steve, Jewish arguments and counterarguments: essays and addresses, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2002, p 120
- Foxman, p 221
- Penslar, p 52
- Jewish Telegraphic Agency (23 December 2010). "Sephardi leader Yosef: Non-Jews exist to serve Jews". External link in
- Mandel, Jonah (October 18, 2010). "Yosef: Gentiles exist only to serve Jews". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 18, 2010.