1/5/09

Did the Bernie Madoff scandal increase Antisemitism? Beliefnet Founder Steven Waldman is Skeptical

Answering Rabbi Marc Gellman's claim that the Madoff mess did increase antisemitism, Beliefnet Founder Steven Waldman waxes skeptical:
Count me skeptical that the Madoff scandal has or will fuel anti-semitism... I don't think the scandals of Ivan Boesky or Michael Milken triggered a wave of anti-semitism, nor have the role of Jewish foreign policy advisors in the unpopular Iraq war,

I do agree with Gelman's passionate condemnation of Madoff -- not because it will increase anti-semitism but because it was a betrayal of Jewish ethics.

For me, the "Jewish question" that has been insufficiently tackled is whether many Jewish investors trusted Madoff because of his prominent role in Jewish philanthropy. Did he use his donations to Yeshiva University to help burnish his reputation for integrity?

And -- an admittedly hypothetical question -- if Yeshiva University had an inkling that they were being so used, would they have had an obligation to turn down his money?
We believe that Yeshiva definitely has an obligation to turn down those who would use the school as a personal ATM for cash or for reputation burnishing. How could you hold any other opinion?

And we believe if the circumstances arise that they discover poisoned proceeds remain in their accounts, the Yeshiva needs to give back any tainted money that remains in their coffers to the victims of the crooks who donated it.

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