Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jewish Charities and Foundations Disproportionately Affected by Madoff's Ponzi Scheme

In a recent AP story, Jennifer Peltz, reporting for the Associated Press, makes the observation that Madoff's Ponzi Scheme disproportionately affected Jewish Charities and Foundations.  Mr. Madoff has been identified as a member of the Jewish faith. This tendency to disproportionately target members of one's own affinity group is called "affinity fraud."  The excerpt below highlights some of the Jewish charities and foundations negatively affected by Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and raises the additional concern that Madoff's actions have unfortunately resulted in a rise in religious stereotyping and an increase in anti-semitic comments.  See excerpt below:

There's nothing new about con artists targeting their own kind. There's even a word for it — affinity fraud — and it has struck numerous religious, ethnic and professional groups.

But the allegations against Madoff are particularly wrenching for some in the Jewish community, who fear that the sensational case is fanning vicious stereotypes about Jews that go back to the Middle Ages.
The Anti-Defamation League cites a spike in anti-Semitic comments online after Madoff's Dec. 11 arrest. A columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz lamented the case as "the answer to every Jew-hater's wish list."
And the American Jewish Committee's executive director, David A. Harris, wrote a letter to The New York Times criticizing what he saw as "a striking emphasis" on Madoff's faith in one of the paper's many stories about the scandal.
The case is "fodder for the bigots," Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director, said in an interview this week with The Associated Press. "It's both embarrassing and it's painful."
.  . .
Yeshiva University, one of the nation's foremost Jewish institutions of higher education, lost $110 million; Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, lost $90 million; director Steven Spielberg's Wunderkinder Foundation acknowledged unspecified losses; and a $15 million foundation established by Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel was wiped out. Jewish federations and hospitals have lost millions and some foundations have had to close.
For the full story, please click here.

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