[One of the first anti-Semitic accusations to which I was exposed as a child was that the Jews were extremely aggressive in business — this during the time frame of the Holocaust.  Some of the kindest people that I have known and my mentors along the way have been Jewish, e.g. the bulk of my philosophy teachers including Ernest Nagel, Distinguished University Professor at Columbia who supervised my dissertation in philosophy of law.

But let me tell you another story about a Jewish business family that I encountered one summer in Hartford, Connecticut.  I was happy to discover that a person who played a supportive role in my life then is still alive and well, recently remarried, and about my age:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06E7D6173CF937A35756C0A9659C8B63

Back during the summer of 1957 I was planning marriage and a year of theological studies in Oxford.  I had to earn the money to support these projects myself, so I got two blue collar jobs in Hartford, Connecticut, near my family’s home.  One was with the huge aircraft parts production plant, Pratt & Whitney, where I did the night shift and the other was at Suisman & Blumenthal, the major New England scrap metal plant days.

The contrast between the two in hiring policies was vast.  Pratt & Whitney employed 35,000 with only one African American — as a floor sweeper.  S & B not only employed mainly African Americans, it supplied those well qualified with funding towards college educations.  To my knowledge they were the only blue collar employer within a hundred miles or more that had African Americans among its workers.  In those days only women could get jobs near Hartford which had its several block African American ghetto buried in the middle of the city and whose jobs were housework for wealthy families to which they would commute.

My personal story here is that at some point during the summer I realized that I would not be able to earn enough money to get us through the year at Oxford — I ended up working there as a heavy freight porter at the Oxford station to fund some of our trips on the Continent — a fascinating story in its own right.

So knowing Mike Suisman who turns out to be my age to be a fellow Yale grad, I asked him for a day off to hunt for possible fellowship funding sources.  He said not to bother — S & B had its own foundation for such things and offered me a loan of $1,000 to be payable, “if and when you can.”  Yes, he knew that I planned a year of Protestant theological studies.

The double point that I am trying to make here is that his was a family making every effort to break down the racial employment barriers in their community and also generously helping out those with needs, regardless of their ethnic or religious identities.

So if any Christian tells you that the Jews are greedy business types, be sure to remind them that Jesus was a Jew who scarified his life for the poor in a brutal Roman Empire which finally killed him as a terrorist (“zealot” in translation).

No, I never was ahead enough over the years to pay back the $1,000, but I have tried to do the equivalent in my teaching.   Ed Kent]

…………………………………

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/859366.html

ADL: Large portion of Europeans feel Jews too powerful in business
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Staff

A study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) among five European countries found rising anti-Semitism, including beliefs that Jews possess too much power in business and finance, the ADL announced Monday.

“A large number of Europeans continue to be infected with anti-Jewish attitudes, holding on to the classical anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories that have dogged Jews through the centuries,” said the organization in a press release.

The study, which was distributed among 2,714 adults in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Poland, found that negative attitudes toward Jews increased, or in some instances did not change, when compared to a similar study conducted in 2005.

The ADL study found that 39 percent of respondents believe that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” while 44 percent said they agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.”

Overall, 20 percent of respondents said they blame Jews for the death of Jesus.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said the study marked the first time that the organization decided to examine the connection between criticism of Israeli government policy and increased anti-Semitic sentiment.

In a Jerusalem press conference, Foxman said the results prove there is indeed a linkage between the two. “We still can’t say how reservations about Israeli policy affects the anti-Jewish sentiment and to what extend, but the fact that there is a relationship between the two phenomena is significant,” he said.

51 percent of respondents said they feel Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country. 25 percent said their opinion of Jews is influenced by Israel’s actions, and 52 percent of those said Israel’s actions has worsened their views on Jews.

Responding to a reporter’s question, Foxman said “biased media coverage” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a contributing factor to anti-Semitic beliefs among the public.

In addition, nearly half of all respondents, including a majority of respondents from Spain and Poland, said they believe American Jews control the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East.

“The findings of this survey demonstrate that individual governments and the EU, who have condemned anti-Semitism and sought ways to counteract it, need to find methods and implement programs that will break down the old stereotypes that die hard, and take leadership to make anti-Semitism unacceptable in their societies,” said Foxman.

The survey also examined the respondents’ attitudes toward the Palestinian unity government and the Iranian nuclear issue.

“A majority identified Hamas as a terrorist organization and supports the European decision not to provide foreign aid to the Palestinian government until Hamas renounces terrorism, and agrees to recognize Israel and agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” said the ADL.

However, a majority also said they do not believe Israel had the right to respond militarily to the abduction of its soldiers last summer.

Regarding Iran, 67 percent of respondents said they believe Iran’s nuclear program is at least partially military in nature, and only 14 percent said the program is intended solely for civilian energy purposes.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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