I was at Speakers’ Corner on Sunday and got into a political debate with an otherwise bright and articulate young man who, judging from the views he espoused and the stylized Celtic cross pin he wore, I took to be a white nationalist and/or white supremacist. One of the things he talked about was the so-called “Jewish lobby”—that is, the idea that Jews exercise undue influence in politics, business, media, academia, etc.
Now, I don’t think anyone will contest that certain ethnic, cultural, or religious groups, including Jews, may be significantly over- or underrepresented in certain fields. (I mean “significantly” in the statistical sense here, in that the representation in the field is markedly different than what one would expect given the representation in the general population, and that this difference is unlikely to be the result of chance.) This isn’t the result of some sinister conspiracy to control the world, but rather of various historical factors: cultural attitudes (including oppression) from the ruling classes towards certain groups, cultural taboos and preferences, long-term economic pressures, etc. This is basically the tack I took with his arguments: maybe he’s right that Jews are overrepresented in certain socioeconomic positions in certain places, but even if this is true, it’s not the result of a conscious directed process but rather of impersonal historic and market forces going back hundreds of years.
He seemed to be pretty responsive to this line of reasoning, but said that impersonal historic forces could not alone account for what he claimed were the actual figures. He said that in America, Jews constitute 2% of the population but own 90% of the wealth (either directly or through ownership of businesses possessing said wealth). I very much doubt the latter figure but I had no citation to back up my claim. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to have this information, and Google searches turn up plenty of white nationalist websites with similarly outrageous-sounding but unsourced figures. So I turn to the Dope in hopes of someone pointing me towards reasonably correct and unbiased figures: by any method of reckoning (and whatever it is, please explain it to me), does the 2% Jewish population of the USA own a significantly disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth? If so, what is that proportion, and what is the source of the data?
Please don’t tell me that it’s a waste of time to argue with these kinds of people. This kid was actually responding well to rational arguments, was willing to revise his opinions in light of new information, and thanked me when I corrected him on factual and logical mistakes. He wasn’t at all trying to force his views upon me but was genuinely interested in learning about mine. I’m hoping that if I see him again next Sunday I might be able to provide him with some correct figures in hopes that he will take them into account and reconsider his views.
I don’t know where to find the figures you’re looking for, but please note that you are not the one making the claim here. The other guy is. He should provide citations to you, not the other way around.
Your looking for facts to back this claim but there aren’t any. The claim is based on an argument that goes like this… “Who runs the world bank? Who chairs the US Federal Reserve? Who are the CEOs of the major media companies? all jews.” It’s a canard right out of the basic anti-semite playbook.
If the kid was wearing Odin’s cross , he’s already been brainwashed by the propaganda. You can’t persuade a true believer.
First, I would assume that the majority of USA’s privately held wealth is controlled by a few hundred individuals. So if you can guess what percentage of those elites are Jewish, you will get a decent estimate of the total amount of wealth held by Jews.
Forbes regularly publishes a list of the wealthiest Americans which is available online. You can then flip through the list and try to guess who is Jewish.
For example, number 3 is “Sheldon Adelson.” From his Wikipedia entry, I would say he is probably Jewish. Ditto for number 4, Larry Ellison and number 9, Michael Dell.
I’m gonna guess that the answer to the question is about 25%.
As a political activist, I can point out another factor that leads to additional influence in the American system of government: voting turnout.
The Jewish community has historically had a tradition of civic participation, such as voting. And that continues today; about 85-90% of jews register and vote. That makes them a very desirable voting bloc, which increases their influence.
A similar pattern is happening with the gay/lesbian community; about 75% of them vote consistently. So they too are now a desirable voting bloc, especially in many urban areas.
But the influence of the black community has been hurt by the lack of voting by many in the community. In many communities, only 40-50% of voting-age blacks actually come out and vote. That seriously undercuts their influence. (Some of this may be related to criminal convictions: a much higher percentage of young black people have a conviction on their record, and in many states, that restricts their right to vote. But even here in Minnesota, where the law restores voting rights fairly quickly, the black community still undervotes.)
As Sal wrote above, this figure seems absurdly impossible. To get those kind of numbers, the average Jew would have to have 450 times the wealth of the average non-Jew.
Brazil made an attempt to rationally analyze the figures but some of his premises are wrong. Wealth may be unevenly distributed in this country but there’s no way a few hundred people own the majority of American wealth. The wealthiest one percent number about three million people and “only” own about a third of the wealth in this country (cite).
Coincidentally, the actual percentage of Americans who are Jewish also rounds off to one percent. Which means that if every one of the wealthiest people in the United States was Jewish, they’d only own about a third of the wealth - far below ninety percent. And in reality, the majority of people in the top one percent are not Jewish.
AIPAC-the Israeli-America Lobbying group, is said to be very wealthy. It has constant influence in Congress, and works diligently to promote Israel’s interests. Anybody know how big this is? How much money do the toss around captaol Hill-are they in the same league as the the laywres (Trial Lawyers of America)?
Lobbying is a given in Congressthe question is: how much is too much?
Here’s figures from opensecrets, a political watchdog website. They ranked the “Pro-Israel” lobby as 35th in money donated in 2006 with total contributions of $10,832,291. Their most recent figures for AIPAC specifically were from 2001 when they spent $1,100,000 on lobbying. The same article noted they had spent a similar amount in 2000.
By comparison, the “Lawyer/Law Firm” lobby was ranked #1 with $121,298,780 donated in 2006 (cite). The American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) contributed $4,247,338 in 2002 and $4,059,100 in 2000. (Its 2006 contributions were $2,839,440).