[The following article by Daniel McGowan was first published in DissidentVoice.org, which identified the author, correctly, as an emeritus professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Following publication of his article, an exchange of letters took place between McGowan and the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, one of which is appended here below the original article.]
The Madoff Ponzi Theft: Schadenfreude, Not Anti-Semitism
As the news of Bernard Madoff’s colossal Ponzi scheme focused on America’s most “important” Jewish tycoons and moguls, it was only a matter of hours before the story was spun around their victimhood with the usual cudgels of “anti-Semitism” and the Holocaust. In Israel columnist Bradley Burston spun the story best by declaring, “The anti-Semite's new Santa is Bernard Madoff. ... The Aryan Nation at its most delusional couldn't have come up with anything to rival this.”
As the list of Madoff’s “victims” grows, their common characteristic is not philanthropy, but rather political Zionism. Virtually all have worked to build a Jewish state with little regard, and often downright hatred, for the non-Jewish population living there.
The money from this type of mogul or “ganzer macher” has been used to dehumanize and depopulate non-Jews in Palestine for over 120 years. But in spite of creating a strong Israeli economy based on guns, diamonds, and security services and in spite of walling Arabs in Bantustans in the West Bank and in the KZ lager known as Gaza, they have failed. Non-Jews outnumber Jews within the borders controlled by Israel, which makes a mockery out of calling it a Jewish state.
Schadenfreude is defined to be largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is recognized as well deserved. Political Zionism deserves scorn and derision; it is racist and antithetical to what Americans profess to hold self-evident: that all men and women are created equal and that we should share equal rights of citizenship. When rich Zionists lose a piece of their portfolios, especially to the guile of one of their own, it is a delight.
The press was first to report Madoff’s pilfering of the Robert Lappin “Charitable” Foundation, an organization whose “mission is helping to keep our children Jewish, thus reversing the trend of assimilation and intermarriage.” If the reader has trouble seeing the blatant racism here, substitute “White” for “Jewish” and imagine it was the stated goal of the David Duke Charitable Foundation.
While Mr. Burston found Madoff’s bilking of “fellow Jews, even Holocaust survivors” particularly outrageous, there are those who find divine justice in seeing one fraud defraud another. Elie Wiesel and his Foundation for Humanity would certainly qualify. Here is a man who has made millions peddling his narrative on the deaths of Jews in World War II; his novel, “Night,” is mandatory reading for most high school students; questioning it in any way invites charges of “anti-Semitism” and “Holocaust Denial.” He has been feted by Presidents and holds dozens of honorary degrees. If there were a CEO of the Holocaust Industry (a term coined by Norman Finkelstein), surely it would be The Great Weasel.
Wiesel’s Foundation claims to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through programs to promote acceptance, understanding, and equality. Yet he remains persistently indifferent to over 60 years of suffering of the Palestinian people and treats them with silence or as the “untermenschen” his people once were under the Nazis. Wiesel boasts of having worked for the terrorists of the Jewish Irgun, not as a fighter but as a journalist, and he steadfastly refuses to apologize for the massacre by his employer at Deir Yassin. As a devout Zionist there is no way he can endorse one state in Israel/Palestine with equal rights of citizenship for all.
Other victims of Madoff’s deception, like the Shapiro Family Foundation and the Chais Family Foundation, are undoubtedly genuinely philanthropic and well-meaning. But insofar as their gifts support Jews-only education, medicine, and social programs in Israel, they deserve the derision that would be accorded to Aryan philanthropists or others who support a racist state, one whose very laws favor one chosen group over all the rest.
Madoff’s clients were not just generous Jews; they were Jews who directly or indirectly support the racism inherent in political Zionism. They support the assimilation of Ethiopian Jews (a noble enterprise), but reject the assimilation of Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians caged in West Bank and Gaza. They support “birthright” trips for young American Jews in hopes they will settle in Israel, but not the “Birthright Unplugged” educational trips of Hannah Mermelstein or the work of Jeff Halper’s Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions.
Madoff’s wealthy victims build ever more Holocaust memorials with the message “Never Forget” but ignore the current siege and starvation of Gaza to which they contribute financially and by their silence. Like The Great Weasel, they simply dismiss the analogy as “unworthy.” Where is the Spielberg movie of the Gaza ghetto that isolates three times as many people as the Warsaw Ghetto and in worse conditions? Where is the support for Righteous Jews ( http://www.righteousjews.org/ ) like former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, who calls what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza "a crime against humanity?" Falk has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as "a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Cast in terms of their impact on the struggle for Palestinian human rights, it is difficult not to plead guilty to schadenfreude caused by the greed of Bernard Madoff. In fact, my only regret is that Edgar Bronfman and Alan Dershowitz were not among his preferred clients.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
9 One Mile Point · Geneva · New York 14456
Phone: 315 789-3524 · E-mail: email@example.com
January 19, 2009
President Mark Gearan
c/o Campus Mail
Dear President Gearan:
I understand that you have been contacted, along with all members of the HWS Board of Trustees, by Zionists wishing to retaliate for my recent article published on DissidentVoice.org. The article was entitled “The Madoff Ponzi Theft: Schadenfreude, Not Anti-Semitism” and has received many kudos, albeit mostly from those who oppose Israeli apartheid and who oppose the continued dehumanization, destruction, and genocide of the Palestinian people.
When Zionists are challenged they often “swarm” (to use a Seinfeld expression) and slime their opponents where they work or play. In this case they went out of their way to contact you and the members of the HWS Board. Although you condemn its “tone and language,” I am not sure you have even seen the original article; I shall attach it below.
Whether or not you have read the original article, you have charged my writing as “reprehensible” and falling outside the bounds of civil discourse. Yet you provide no examples. Perhaps you mean my reference to Elie Wiesel as the CEO of the Holocaust Industry. Were you President of MIT, would you levy the same criticism against Noam Chomsky, who refers to Wiesel as a “terrible fraud,” or to Christopher Hitchens who rhetorically asks, “Is there a more contemptible poseur and windbag than Elie Wiesel?” Do you need examples of Wiesel’s endless proclamations that “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all” and the reality of his total silence to over 1,100 Palestinians murdered with our weapons in Gaza in just the past three weeks?
You advise that I “do not speak for Hobart and William Smith Colleges.” I never said I did. But please tell me, who does speak against the current outrage in Gaza and the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people? Have you written to oppose it? Has any other member of our Board? Did they sign their names with a professional affiliation?
You charge me with “intolerance” and not representing “our values.” My values and those of many Jews with whom I associate include equal rights of citizenship for all people living in Israel/Palestine. (Notably, that is one of three scenarios outlined by Bob Simon on the Charlie Rose Show on January 7th. Other Jews who support precisely this idea are listed at www.RighteousJews.org.) Are you willing to stand up for this type of true American value or do you choose the easier option of supporting the Israeli-style apartheid described in detail by President Carter?
When Benyamin Netanyahu is re-elected will our Colleges again honor and fete him as we have done in the past? He has been an open supporter of mass deportations of Arabs from the territories and for extra judicial killings of “suspected militants” with missiles fired from American-made helicopter gunships. I realize we were paid to host him, but are these values we should tolerate explicitly or implicitly in Wieselian silence?
If you really believe that Hobart and William Smith Colleges respect and celebrate diversity as an essential element of academic excellence, then you should praise, not condemn me. Who else on the campus has been so forthright in expressing pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist sentiments, not just when it is in vogue, but consistently for over two decades? It is easy to oppose retrospectively the racism of apartheid South Africa and to oppose the genocide perpetrated by Hitler in World War II; it takes much sterner stuff to oppose contemporarily the racism inherent in political Zionism, especially when our Congress is so overwhelmingly supportive of a Jewish state and so willing to totally ignore the basic human rights of the non-Jewish portion of the population under its control. I am confident that if you did not have to fundraise, you would be more tolerant of this type of diversity.
You sent your letter of condemnation certified and return receipt requested at a cost of $5.32. I am sure that you were not trying to intimidate me by alluding to the beginning of some kind of legal procedure. I am also confident that sending copies to all members of the Board was to appease some of them rather than to embarrass me. But would it not have been simpler to have just invited me to your office for a chat?
Finally, I also attach two articles, one from Randall Kuhn from The Washington Times and one from Rabbi David Goldberg, who has accompanied me at two theater presentations in London honoring the victims of Deir Yassin. Kindly note that both list their professional affiliations next to their names. I take the position that I have been accorded the same right.
Daniel A. McGowan
cc: Board of Trustees
The Washington Times
When Israel expelled Palestinians
By Randall Kuhn
January 14, 2009
"Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico." Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak's comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying "America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana." But let's see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.
Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.
What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I'm Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.
What if the United Nations kept San Diego's discarded minorities in crowded, festering camps in Tijuana for 19 years? Then, the United States invaded Mexico, occupied Tijuana and began to build large housing developments in Tijuana where only whites could live. And what if the United States built a network of highways connecting American citizens of Tijuana to the United States? And checkpoints, not just between Mexico and the United States but also around every neighborhood of Tijuana? What if we required every Tijuana resident, refugee or native, to show an ID card to the U.S. military on demand? What if thousands of Tijuana residents lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their children, their sense of self worth to this occupation? Would you be surprised to hear of a protest movement in Tijuana that sometimes became violent and hateful? Okay, now for the unbelievable part.
Think about what would happen if, after expelling all of the minorities from San Diego to Tijuana and subjecting them to 40 years of brutal military occupation, we just left Tijuana, removing all the white settlers and the soldiers? Only instead of giving them their freedom, we built a 20-foot tall electrified wall around Tijuana? Not just on the sides bordering San Diego, but on all the Mexico crossings as well. What if we set up 50-foot high watchtowers with machine gun batteries, and told them that if they stood within 100 yards of this wall we would shoot them dead on sight? And four out of every five days we kept every single one of those border crossings closed, not even allowing food, clothing, or medicine to arrive. And we patrolled their air space with our state-of-the-art fighter jets but didn't allow them so much as a crop duster. And we patrolled their waters with destroyers and submarines, but didn't even allow them to fish.
Would you be at all surprised to hear that these resistance groups in Tijuana, even after having been "freed" from their occupation but starved half to death, kept on firing rockets at the United States? Probably not. But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of people in Tijuana never picked up a rocket, or a gun, or a weapon of any kind. The majority, instead, supported against all hope negotiations toward a peaceful solution that would provide security, freedom and equal rights to both people in two independent states living side by side as neighbors. This is the sound analogy to Israel's military onslaught in Gaza today. Maybe some day soon, common sense will prevail and no corpus of misleading analogies about Tijuana or the crazy guy across the hall who wants to murder your daughter will be able to obscure the truth. And at that moment, in a country whose people shouted We Shall Overcome, Ich bin ein Berliner, End Apartheid, Free Tibet and Save Darfur, we will all join together and shout "Free Gaza. Free Palestine." And because we are Americans, the world will take notice and they will be free, and perhaps peace will prevail for all the residents of the Holy Land.
Randall Kuhn is an assistant professor and Director of the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He just returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank.
Rabbi Ponders Elie Wiesel
The Independent (U.K.)
And The Sea Is Never Full: Memoirs 1969- by Elie Wiesel
By David Goldberg
31 August 2000
It was Stravinsky who said that when it comes to Russian literature, one is either for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. When it comes to Holocaust literature, one is either for Elie Wiesel or Primo Levi.
Personally, I have always preferred the discreet, restrained, precise narratives of Levi to Wiesel's overblown, metaphorical fables. Wiesel is descended from the eastern European Hasidic tradition, based on simple piety, mysticism and the folk wisdom of itinerant preachers. It was a world largely destroyed by the Nazis, who massacred its inhabitants or herded them into concentration camps.
Wiesel, as a survivor of Auschwitz where the rest of his family perished, has always been compelled by the duty of witnessing and remembering. For those of us descended from the rigorous Jüdische Wissenschaft (science of Judaism) tradition in western Europe, his parables about saints and wise beggars no more answer the deep and terrible theological problems of belief in God after Auschwitz than would Fiddler on the Roof.
Even allowing for such opposed starting points, this is still a dire book. It is no conventional autobiography, in the sense of someone looking back over their life and seeking to discover order in haphazard circumstances. Rather, it is a long list of self-congratulatory pages from Wiesel's engagements diary. How I saved Abba Eban's career; how Golda Meir confided in me; why Kissinger was grateful to me; if only Gorbachev had listened to me; how mine was the one voice of sweet reason in the controversy surrounding the Washington Holocaust Museum...
At times, beneath his insistence on being a shy person who hates public exposure, the conceit is breathtaking. Wiesel informs us that not since Schweitzer has a Nobel Prize winner been more warmly received. The mock-modest tone of "Aw shucks, fancy me, the yeshiva student from Sighet, here in the White House/ Elysée Palace/Kremlin" soon wears thin. Wiesel reveals himself as vain, arrogant, gullible and naive about international affairs. He defends his silence over the worst excesses of previous Israeli governments with the hackneyed excuse that only those who live there have a right to criticise. That doesn't deter him from being vociferously and justifiably critical about Austria, Germany, the Soviet Union, Poland, Bosnia and Serbia.
When the mask of saintly forbearance slips, it is to settle old scores with Simon Wiesenthal, rival contender as Most Important Holocaust Witness. "I feel sorry for him," he concludes, having gouged, rabbit-punched and kicked his opponent. Wiesel does not take kindly to "too many experts" encroaching on his Holocaust preserve, which he always refers to as "The Event". Elsewhere, it becomes "the ultimate mystery, never to be comprehended or transmitted", which rather begs the question of what his life's work has been all about.
For one who sets such store on words, the style of this book is appallingly mawkish. Who outside of Mills & Boon would get away with "Spring is here, Paris is alive with the joy of its lovers" or the nonsense statement that "The quality of a novel is measured not by the weight of its words but by that of its silence"? Only when detailing his pleasure in teaching, summoning up the ghosts of his dead family and linking them to his young son or pondering on the suicides of fellow-survivors Primo Levi, Paul Celan and Piotr Rawicz, does Wiesel transcend banality.
The quality of his writing has declined in inverse proportion to his celebrity. He seems to spend his time touring the world with an entourage of Nobel winners, organising conferences with titles like "The Anatomy of Hate and Conflict Resolution". Ferried first-class to five-star hotels, the great and the good deliberate at length and issue insipid declarations which Wiesel solemnly reproduces. How one would love to get on to the gravy train! Alas, this wanton review will have scuppered my chances.
The reviewer is Senior Rabbi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London