The Jewish Reaction: Madoff and Rubashkin

There's an interesting contrast between the Madoff scandal and the Rubashkin scandal and the Jewish reaction to both. Here is an excerpt from this OpEd in the Jpost:

"....Consider the case of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, the former chief executive of Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, who has been denied bail and is being detained pending trial in the Dubuque County jail where his wife can visit him once a week for 25 minutes and communicate only through video conferencing. She is charged with looking after their 10 children on her own, including their 15-year-old autistic son Moishe.

WHAT COULD this rabbi have done that would cause the justice system to be so harsh? To be sure the charges against him are serious, including child labor violations and knowingly employing hundreds of illegal immigrants. But Bernie Madoff allegedly ripped off $50 billion and took scores of Jewish charities to the cleaners, including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Yet he's sitting under house arrest at his $10 million East Side apartment!

....Until he imploded, Bernie Madoff was in a business Jews consider sophisticated and noble, finance. He was a secular Jew who made good on Wall Street and even brought the community pride by becoming chairman of Nasdaq. Rubashkin, by contrast, was essentially a glorified shochet and butcher, the country's largest producer of kosher meat. Rubashkin's beard and black hat were enough to unnerve many Jews. But that his missteps at Agriprocessors highlighted what others consider the unsavory sight of Jewish ritual slaughter all but guaranteed Rubashkin's total abandonment at the hands of American Jewry."

Beyond those differences, and contrary to claims by the ADL and many others, the JIDF does not see a rise in antisemitism online or elsewhere in relation to the Madoff scandal. In their own press release, they only provided six small samples of some antisemitic comments people left on 7 different mainstream websites. It's like focussing on one small symptom rather than the disease itself. This seems to be the ADL's new pattern of pulling a few antisemitic samples from a few websites here and there in relation to some event. Prior to the Madoff scandal, they did this with regard to the economic crisis. "Coincidentally" they sent out an email notice today saying that "it's not too late to make a difference" - and urged people to send them more money.

Although we do not see these same rises in antisemitism as the ADL sees, we do notice an extreme amount of Jewish worrying about how Madoff's alleged crimes might impact us.
Secular leftist Jewish organizations seem more concerned about the Madoff scandal than they were about the Rubashkin debacle. (Apparently one story "hits home" more than the other.)

If the majority of Jews are guilty, then the majority of us are going to pay. Simple as that. Throughout our history there has always been a tipping point.

The fact that the ADL and so many other Jews are making so much of an issue about the Madoff scandal makes it appear that we, as a people, have a lot of stuff we are hiding. This paranoia probably fuels more antisemitism than the allegations themselves. Again, we fail to see the evidence that the Madoff scandal increased antisemitism online or elsewhere, so this appears to us to be more about fear of how it might impact us, rather than the actual impact.

Antisemitism is not necessarily a matter of cause and effect. To us, it's like a disease which is always there. Certain things will make the disease worse, other things will help cure it. The more the Jewish people transgress, the more there will be a rise in antisemitism. The more we try to live with respect to how we should be living (fulfilling our G-dly missions in life) the more antisemitism will taper off.

One of the key things worrisome Jews should consider is that we should fear Hashem more than our fellow man. Hashem blesses those who bless the Jewish people, and curses those who curse us. Rather than being defensive about how the alleged crimes of one Jew might impact us all, we should focus more on mitzvot, kindness, and good deeds and the promotion thereof, while strongly condemning such unethical actions and distancing ourselves from evil and corruption. We should also be doing a lot more for the ailing Kosher meat industry and try to offer more support to the Rubashkin family, who are victims of a vicious smear campaign on many fronts. We believe the Rubashkins will eventually be vindicated...either in this world or the next. It seems the Rubashkins were not treated fairly by the government, PETA, the labor unions, and most tragically, fellow Jews.



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