Enough of the Rothschilds Already
What Did Hollywood Personality Nick Cannon Say That Was So Bad?
Our Jewish family wasn’t that religious growing up, but we were proud Jews.
We were taught about the miracle of Israel, which literally turned a desert into one of the most productive countries in the world.
We learned about The Theory of Relativity scientist Albert Einstein. And Polio Curer Jonas Salk.
We were taught about Jews fighting along-side Martin Luther King, Jr. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The young white kids lynched in the movie Mississippi Burning who were Jews in real life.
We learned that most of the chess masters in the world were Jewish.
We learned about Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, and Felix Frankfurter.
I even recall during my first internship during law school a seventy-year-old former judge telling me “when I was fighting for civil rights in the South in the 1960s, almost all of the other white kids there were Jews.”
We learned about the numerous Nobel Prizes won by Jewish physicists, chemists, and physicians.
Ernst Chain, who developed penicillin.
Arthur Eichengrun, who created Aspirin.
Hans Kornberg, who discovered endorphins, and Rudolph Lennhoff, who cured tuberculosis.
We learned about Ralph Baer, the inventor of the video game console. And Emile Berliner, inventor of the gramophone.
We learned about Sigmund Freund, the father of psychology.
We were taught about numerous Jewish accomplishments in philosophy, economics, mathematics.
The numerous Jews in show business and music. My own cousin, Serge Koussevitsky, still remains the best bassist and conductor of all time. The Boston Symphony Orchestra music hall is named after him.
And we learned about the Rothschilds. A wealthy family that started out poor in a Jewish ghetto in Germany, which then rose to world prominence in banking, insurance, gold, wine, real estate, and hotels.
The one thing all of these Jews had in common is that they made us Jewish kids proud. That despite being expelled from our homeland multiple times, massacred in the Crusades and by the Germans in 1096, being expelled from England in 1290, being persecuted by Europeans in 1348, being massacred by the Spanish in 1391, being forced to convert to Christianity or be expelled by the Spanish and Portuguese in 1492, being massacred in the Ukraine in 1648, being subjected to harsh Russian pogroms for almost a hundred years beginning in 1821, being massacred, beaten and gassed in the millions by the Germans in the Holocaust, being tortured, murdered and kicked out of Arab countries after 1948, we excelled and persevered for 3,000 years.
In case you’re wondering, this list of atrocities against Jews doesn’t even scratch the surface.
It wasn’t until well into my adult life that I would learn that some of what made us Jews proud would be the very thing others would use against us. The Jewish-run Hollywood was now The Jews, a people blamed for whatever bad movies and television had done. The successful Rothschild family was now the family who ruled and ruined the world. George Soros was now a puppet master, interested in nothing more than bringing us down. Every Jew whoever did a bad thing, perceived or for real, was now about The Jews.
The Rothschild family was from Frankfurt, Germany. They rose to prominence in the mid-1700s. Jews were kept out of many professions in Europe, but money lending was one of the few areas Germans and other Europeans would allow Jews to undertake back then.
This family in particular did it well. They established a large banking company with locations in such places as London, Paris, and Vienna. They had become so successful, they had amassed some of the most wealth of any private family in the world at the time. By the 20th Century, their wealth had declined and the businesses were split among the various descendants of the family patriarchs.
This prominent Jewish family has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories from they control the world to they started numerous wars. One conspiracy article I read claimed that the Rothschilds controlled over $5 quadrillion of the world’s wealth in 2015. Forget that the total wealth in the world was $250 trillion then, making that claim impossible, the exaggeration of what the Rothschilds have been up to never quite stacks up to the truth. Just like all the other Jewish conspiracy theories.
It all started with stories about the Rothschilds profiting from the war in England over two hundred years ago. Once Nazi Germany decimated the Jews of Europe in the 20th Century, the Rothschild fortune was not what it once was and even had begun to decline significantly by World War I. Today, the Rothschild family is spread among numerous descendants. Some are in banking. Some are scientists. Some are philanthropists. The Rothschild banking enterprise today is valued at somewhere in the low single-digit billions in assets.
A lot of money to be sure, but to give perspective, a non-Jewish owned bank in the Netherlands is worth over $774 billion. Deutsche Bank is worth $1.7 trillion. JP Morgan Chase, owned in large part by wealthy Middle Easterners in the Gulf States, is worth over 500 times that of the Rothschilds. Four Chinese banks are worth over four trillion. Needless to say, the Rothschilds aren’t controlling the world or all of its money. The wealthiest individual Rothschild today is 1,121st on the world’s list of billionaires.
It turns out, the Rothschild family has had some greatness and some not so greatness. I suspect like any other wealthy family, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or Jewish. And even some not so wealthy families. Either way, they are the Rothschild Family, not The Jews. Using their name to somehow bring the rest of us Jews into it is blatant bigotry. Even worse when people make up facts about the family and then try to tie The Jews into those lies.
Racial Justice and The Importance of History
One of the biggest complaints racial justice warriors rightfully have about fighting racism and systems of racism in the U.S. is that people aren’t taking the time to learn about history. To learn about systems of racism. To learn about the history of American Blacks, including pre and post-slavery. How can we possibly eradicate systems of oppression if we aren’t advised on their premises? How can we properly know another if we don’t know their history? How can we address inequities if we do nothing more than repost unsubstantiated internet stories without actually taking the time to learn?
So too it is with anti-Semitism. We don’t learn, so we don’t know. And then we repeat racist ideas based on that ignorance.
A close friend respectfully asked me this week, “What was anti-Semitic about Nick Cannon’s saying the Rothschilds are rich or that Jews are rich. Since when is rich synonymous with bad?”
But anti-Semitism is exactly how the Rothschild name is used.
It’s a simple math equation. Tell a tale of a Jewish family being the richest in the world. The rich control the wealth in the world. The world has a shit ton of problems. Wars. Racism. Oppression. Income disparity. The people controlling the wealth at the expense of the rest of us are to blame for these problems. Hence, The Jews are to blame.
Now, do you understand why Nick Cannon’s words were hurtful? It all leads back to the classic blame The Jews game.
For us Jews, it’s hard to keep track of all the ways we’ve been attacked. So many forms dating back to the biblical brutal slavery in Egypt.
There’s religious anti-Semitism. The Jew as the killer of Jesus. The notion that all Jews are responsible for whatever took place 2,000 years ago in the land of Israel. After all, Jews are responsible for the Rothschilds’ perceived bad, so we must be collectively responsible for Jesus’ death, too.
I’m not here to debate theology or the accuracy of history that has no contemporaneous writings to verify, but the last time I checked, group blame for any act of a few is the purest definition of racism. This form of anti-Semitism is particularly odd to me given that Jesus was himself a practicing Jew.
That’s right. Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew who celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Passover. Not Christmas and Easter.
In theory, this type of religious anti-Semitism would end if Jews just abandoned Judaism or converted. But alas, even non-religious Jews and Jews who have converted, still and always have been considered separate and lower.
Then there’s economic anti-Semitism. The Jews as the banker and money grabber. Forget that Jews in positions of power are oftentimes some of the most charitable people in the country. Jews who helped found the NAACP and Urban League. Jews who financially supported Dr. King. But the second a Jew with any money does something bad, it’s The Jews. It’s never The Jews when one of us cures a type of cancer. Always The Jews when one of us screws up.
We can’t forget social anti-Semitism. The Jew as socially inferior. Pushy. Where the Jew must be excluded from personal contact.
Then we have race-based anti-Semitism. Jews as an inferior race. It’s what drove the likes of Hitler and drives white supremacists to despise us as an ethnic group.
Then there’s cultural anti-Semitism. This is the type that has over and over again charged Jews with corrupting the culture of a country. Where Jews are seen as possessing social characteristics that make society worse.
Frankly, the anti-Semites can’t keep their reasons straight for hating us.
It’s blatant bigotry to group blame Black people for the negative acts of some Black people. The Black man as violent is a perfect example of this awful racism.
It’s bigotry to group blame Muslims as terrorists just because 35,000 ISIS members of a billion Muslims wreaked havoc in the Middle East.
It’s blatant racism to insinuate that a virus is Chinese as if their people are somehow to collectively blame.
And it’s anti-Semitism to keep bringing up the Jewish Rothschilds for more justification to despise us so people can conclude “The Jews are to blame.”
Jeffrey Kass is an award-winning author, Pushcart Prize literary nominee and author of “Oreos and a Pack of Marlboro Lights,” a collection of lightly fictionalized true stories, essays, and even a poem covering a wide variety of subjects including race, religion, relationships and coming of age matters. He can be reached at email@example.com