I saw this movie and it was very interesting. The protagonist has a point beneath all of his anti-Semitic rhetoric. The Jews were never allowed to own land in Christian Europe and participate in the normal course of society, which was based upon agriculture and a shared connection to the land. They had to turn to moneylending and trade instead, which was looked upon as an extremely dirty and evil thing. Even a peasant was considered more noble than a moneylended. Dealing in money was really frowned upon. Merchants were a step up but still did not have that crucial connection to the land, the sense of being part of the tribe.
To use an analogy, picture medieval Europe as a high school in a small Midwestern town. For the purposes of the analogy, let’s say that the town is self-contained, a microcosm of a society. The aristocracy are the popular jocks, the guys named Brad and Chad with spiked hair and Hollister shirts. The peasants are the vocational students who drive pickups to school and chew Skoal during class. The Jews are the nerds and math club members and band class. Geeks who are completely unable to measure up to the standards of masculinity. They don’t participate in sports, a physical test of manhood. They don’t learn a trade, like welding or carpentry. They’re looked down upon by both the vocational students and the jocks. What, then, do they do? They try to be as good as they can at their geeky pursuits, figuring that eventually they will become successful, and rich, and able to live independently from or above the more prosaic types of students.
So, the geeky guys graduate high school and get good enough at math and science and what have you to become successful. Eventually they become lawyers, bankers, and doctors. The Chads and Brads and ex-vocational students and all of them, they’ve grown up to become construction company owners, farmers, mechanics, and the like. They borrow a lot of money from the geeks, and their livelihoods flourish, and they’re able to buy more land and build more houses and buy more trucks. However, for whatever reason, they are unable to pay back their loans. Or maybe they just don’t feel like paying them back.
What do they do? Chad, Brad, Chase, Kyle, Kevin, and all the other ex-jocks, and their staffs of mechanics, construction workers, policemen, and everyone else, goes over to the neighborhood where the bankers live and roust them out of their houses, kick all of their asses, and tell them to get the hell out of town.
This is the story of the Jews in medieval Europe. They were geeks among jocks. Mice among men. They didn’t have the muscle to compete with the nobility, and they couldn’t work the land or an “honest trade” because they were barred from doing so. They had to turn to moneylending and business. Then, in the modern era, after the Enlightenment, they turned to politics and radical ideologies. Communism, socialism, and other sophisticated political movements designed to turn the old hidebound Christian society on its head. And who could blame them? They got fucked over so bad, they had to fight back in their own way.
This sentiment is basically what is put forth by Danny in The Believer. Except he neglects to mention that the Jews tried to overcome the agricultural-based society because they were barred from it in the first place.