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Only the root and branch reform of Jewish business ethics can stop anti-Semitism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/27/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,051 times Debate No: 44690
Debate Rounds (2)
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What's the connection between media baron Robert Maxwell (born Jahn Ludvik Hyman Binyamin Hoch) who stole hundreds of millions of pounds from his workers' pension fund; Bernie Madoff who swindled investors out of 57 billion dollars and Dick Fuld the CEO of Lehman Brothers whose greed and dodgy dealings led to the collapse of his bank and who was largely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis from which we are still trying to recover? [1,2,3]

The answer is they were all prominent businessmen who, by fair means or foul, ruthlessly amassed huge personal fortunes at the expense of others. Also, they all happen to be Jewish, although you might not guess that from their names or to look at them - Jewish businessmen rarely advertise their Hebrew heritage.

Indeed, a recent survey of Jews living in Europe found that 68% avoid appearing identifiably Jewish in public. [4]

Of course, there's a very good reason why a Jew might want to conceal his identity: whenever there is a major financial scandal it always seems to be a Jewish businessman that is responsible for the debacle. With this being the case, in respectable circles an openly Jewish businessman is about as popular as a ginger son-in-law and, consequently, they are often shunned. The Jews call this "anti-Semitism".

There is nothing new about anti-Semitism though: Jews have been unpopular since Biblical times when they were driven from their ancestral homes in Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan (now Palestine). There they made themselves so unpopular they were driven into exile in Egypt. The Egyptians didn't like them very much either and soon sent them packing.

Understandably, on returning to Palestine the Jews did not receive a warm welcome and that's why many left the Middle East and settled overseas.

However, wherever Jews moved to they quickly gained a reputation for employing underhand and duplicitous business practices in order to extract money from their Gentile (non-Jewish) hosts.

In Europe Jews were strongly associated with usury (the financial exploitation of desperate people by lending money at exorbitant rates of interest) even though the Torah (the Jewish scriptures) seems to forbid this: "If you lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shalt thou lay upon him interest" (Exodus 22:24).

The Jewish Encyclopaedia explains this apparent breach of Jewish law as follows: "When an Israelite lends money to a Gentile or to an 'indwelling stranger' (a half-convert of foreign blood), he may and should charge him interest; and when he borrows from such a person he should allow him interest. It is the opinion of Maimonides that for Jews to charge Gentiles interest is a positive command of the written law. [5]

In other words, a Jew is forbidden to make money out of the misery and suffering of a fellow Jew but its fine - actually the Jews' religious duty - to squeeze Gentiles for cash until their pips squeak. No wonder they have always been despised.

As a result of the Jews' perceived laissez-faire approach to business ethics, anti-Semitism evolved independently in many different places at many different times in history. To illustrate this point, here is a list of notable anti-Semitic incidents:

Anti-Semitism is also reflected in European literature: In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Shylock the Jew, says of Antonio:

"He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest.
Cursed be my tribe
If I forgive him!" (1.3.38"42)

Throughout the play, Shylock, and by extension, all Jews, are presented as greedy,
conniving and cruel. Shylock the Jew, as he is called by everyone in the
play is compared with a dog, a cur, and a demon, and is referred to as the very
devil incarnation.

Jewish usury was also likened to prostitution, Samuel Purchas, in Purchas His Pilgrimage (London, 1617), writes that the "beastly trade of courtesans and cruel trade of Jews is suffered for Italy; both...suck from the meanest to be squeezed by the greatest...So well is the rule of Paul observed...not to be a lover of filthy lucre, from filthy stews, from filthy Jews." [6]

So we can see there is no doubt that, right throughout their history, the Jews have always earned a reputation for being greedy and dishonest.

Jews today are no more liked than they have ever been with thirty-five percent of people agree with the statement "Jews have too much power in the business world" [7] while fifteen percent of young people "don't trust Jews" [8].

But what do the Jews themselves think is the cause of anti-Semitism?

The chosen people theory perhaps? Well Japanese, Chinese and Native Americans to name but a few all consider themselves chosen people yet, according to the leading Jewish content website; these people "are not hated for having claimed superiority. A claim that one is chosen does not in and of itself cause hatred. If it did, then so many other nations would be the targets of the intense, universal hatred that is in fact unique to the Jews."

The Scapegoat Theory then? Aish notes "the Scapegoat Theory is simply a barometer indicating the level of hatred that already exists against Jews in any given society. It reveals how much anti-Semitism is already present, waiting to be stirred up. The Scapegoat is obviously an excuse, not a reason."

The Killers-of-Jesus Theory maybe? Aish says "If the killing of Jesus is the cause of Christian hatred, why have only the Jewish accomplices been categorically persecuted? Christians should hate Romans at least as much as they hate Jews! Obviously, Jesus' death is an excuse, not the reason for anti-Semitism." [9]

In short, Jews do not understand why they have always been so widely disliked. Strange that they never consider the possibility that their dubious business practices are the cause of anti-Semitism

In conclusion, only the root and branch reform of Jewish business ethics can stop anti-Semitism and only Jewish businessmen can do that.

Thank you.



THESIS: Pro's argument that Jewish business ethics are the exclusive cause of anti-semitism is invalid, unsound, and certainly stands unproven.

For starters, let's break down Pro's argument a bit:

P1: Three Jewish businessmen are likely guilty of theft, fraud, and greed respectively prove that a Jewish businessman is always responsible for financial scandal.
P2: Jews often experience anti-semitism.
P3: Jews charge interest on financial transactions.
P4: Several theories explaining anti-semitism are less than comprehensive.
C: Therefore, Jewish business ethics are the exclusive cause of anti-semitism

Now, let's take a look at the soundness of each premise in turn.

Premise: "Whenever there is a major financial scandal it always seems to be a Jewish businessman that is responsible."

In order to make the case that Jewish business ethics are the exclusive cause of anti-semitism, Pro offers 3 examples of corrupt businessmen who are also Jewish. In order for these examples to be sufficient, Pro would need to demonstrate that these men were entirely representative of Jewish business ethics. Was their Judaism, for example, the only link that binds these 3? Clearly not. All three were also White, English-speaking males. All 3 were chairmen of large, international corporations. Can we find example of non-Jewish White, English-speaking corporate chairmen who demonstrate the same level of corruption? Sure we can. Conrad Black, for example, was a Canadian publisher who also stole liberally from worker's pension funds and is Roman Catholic. [1] Wendell and Alan Jacobson are two prominent members of the Latter Day Saints who have been described as the "Bernie Madoff of Utah." [2]
Jamie Dimon, a Greek Orthodox, was just as complicit in hiding JPMorgan Chase's enormous losses after the London Whale as Dick Fuld during the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. [3]

So, in spite of Pro's implication, there's nothing uniquely Jewish about the fraudulent business practices Pro cites.

Nor can it be said that any of Pro's example were particularly religiously observant, to the extent that we must wonder why Pro provides these men as examples of Jewish faith. Maxwell, in fact, was decidedly irreligious. [4]

Nor is there any evidence to suggest that these three men demonstrated any adherence to or constraint by Jewish Business Ethics. In the Talmudic tradition, the first question asked during final judgement in the Afterlife is "were you honest in business?" Why would Pro offer these 3 men as examples of Jewish business ethics when none of these 3 demonstrate any particular conformity?

PREMISE: Jewish People experience anti-semitism.

The premise is indisputable, although we might wonder why Pro pretends to care. Although the argument is framed as a means of abolishing anti-semitism it can't be said that there is any indication of concern, or admiration, or even sympathy for Judaism in Pro's text.

For example, Pro offers several strange non-sequiturs that seem to have no bearing on Jewish business ethics:

*Jewish businessmen rarely advertise their heritage.
*You might not guess a Jewish businessman by his name.
*European Jews avoid appearing identifiably Jewish in public.

Of course, Pro makes no mention of the single most salient fact regarding Jewish life in Europe: 2 out of every 3 European Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. [5] One might forgive any minority for trying to blend in a bit with the threat of mass extinction looming in the recent memory of fathers and grandfathers. Further, the arguments themselves have obviously little value. Ask yourself whether more than a third of Jews in Tel Aviv or Brooklyn appear "identifiably Jewish?" What does that even mean? Only 12% of Israeli Jews and 7% of American Jews adhere to the black clothes and of Haredi Judaism. In Israel, only 20% of Jews cover their head in public with the traditional kippah. [6] Ask yourself further how many Christians or Buddhists or Muslims dress in ways that identify their religion in public--more than a third? Seldom or never.

Pro's brief Jewish history also has little to do with business ethics and suggests his bias with telling understatements:

"[Jews] were driven from their ancestral homes in Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan (now Palestine). There they made themselves so unpopular they were driven into exile in Egypt. The Egyptians didn't like them very much either and soon sent them packing.
Understandably, on returning to Palestine the Jews did not receive a warm welcome and that's why many left the Middle East and settled overseas."

An astonishingly glib gloss of history. Even the order is wrong. Jews were first enslaved by the Egyptians and then enslaved by the Assyrians. Freed by the Persian invasion of Cyrus the Great, Jews remained in their homeland for nearly 600 years until the destruction of the Second Temple and the Diaspora enforced by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD. [7]

Are we really meant to believe that Pro has a realistic perspective on anti-semitism when he can't admit to simple historic facts regarding Jewish persecution, enslavement, and murder?

PREMISE: Jews charge interest on financial transactions.

As far as I can tell, this is the heart of Pro's argument insofar as this is the only specifically documented practice attributed to Jewish business ethics. OED defines usury as "the action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest." If there is any evidence that Jewish businessmen regularly lend money at higher rates than say, Christian businessmen or Buddhist businessmen, Pro fails to provide it. In fact, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions all share fairly specific prohibitions against charging any interest on any loan. Jewish business ethics only prohibit individuals, not corporations while many Muslim financial institutions go to great lengths to avoid charging interest on loans.[8] To the extent that the Christian Council of Nicea in 325 AD forbade any Christian from charging any interest in any context, we must conclude that Christians, not Jews, are the most hypocritical religious sect participating in modern Capitalism.

If the charging of interest is the principle complaint of the anti-semite, then how are Jewish business ethics distinguished from the financial practices of most of the rest of the world? Charging interest is, after all, a commonplace artifact of any modern economy.
On this point, Pro has offer information.

PREMISE: Some theories regarding the cause of anti-semitism are less than comprehensive.

Obviously, offering three popular theories regarding the cause of anti-semitism and then dismissing those theories is not of itself an argument in support of Pro's "anti-semitism is caused Jewish business ethics" theory. Pro has falsely concluded that 1) anti-semitism must have a rational basis, and 2) anti-semitism must have only one cause. As Pro's own argument proves, anti-semitism is rarely rational. Over the span of many nationalities and histories, we must expect that any deep-rooted prejudice has many complex causes, more often discovered in the inadequacies of the hater than the hated.

In short, Pro has offered a wide ranging narrative with much invective and no evidence. Essentially, his case is that Jewish people have only themselves to blame for anti-semitism so it follows that the anti-semite is blameless of any bigotry. We should reject this unfounded and ugly argument.


Debate Round No. 1


brian_eggleston forfeited this round.


Pro forfeits, so continue my arguments from round1 in lieu of conclusion. Pls. vote CON!
Debate Round No. 2
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by markuswashere 6 years ago
Collective guilt on a whole group of people never works. People who are unquestionably prejudiced will be regardless of the actions from those who they are prejudiced to.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF

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