Guardian evokes “Jesus chasing moneychangers from the Temple’ to malign Israel

The Guardian published a review yesterday of a book about Bethlehem written by Guardian contributor Nicholas Blincoe (Bethlehem by Nicholas Blincoe review – love letter to a town on the brink, Dec 23)

Though, based on his previous polemics on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it seems likely that Blincoe’s book will be misleading and one-sided, the reviewer, Justin Marozzi, misleads on his own accord.  For instance, he erroneously suggests that the Israeli security barrier surrounds Bethlehem.  Marozzi also uncritically cites Blincoe’s claim that “no Israeli leader will ever make a deal with the Palestinians”, which ignores two Israeli peace offers (2001 and 2008) which included a contiguous Palestinian state in most of the West Bank with east Jerusalem as its capital.

However, the most troubling passage is in the final paragraph of his review when he opines on what he believes is the likely motivation for Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Nor, [Blincoe] reminds us, should the world see Israeli settlements as a purely ideological movement. As the Israeli historian and one–time deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti puts it, the settlements are a “commercial real estate project that conscripts Zionist rhetoric for profit”. The story of Jesus and the moneychangers somehow comes to mind.

His decision to emphasize such a historically toxic theme in service of his anti-occupation narrative is extremely troubling.  To be clear, many scholars of antisemitism trace the age-old antisemitic charge of ‘Jewish greed’ to the New Testament story of Jesus and the money changers which he evokes.

This antisemitic idea has a long history.

During Middle Ages, when the church wouldn’t allow Jews to own land, farm, or join crafts and guilds, many were forced into money-lending and usury, reinforcing the association of Jews with greed.

Then, of course, there’s British literature.

The Merchant of Venice reflected the popularity of this stereotype by presenting the Jewish character, Shylock, as money hungry, greedy and conniving.  Charles Dickens’ Bentley’s Miscellany tells of a cruel medieval Jewish moneylender and “merciless creditor” who “never abated one farthing of his due”.

Since the 19th century, the story of Jesus chasing money changers from the Temple, and antisemitic themes inspired by the Biblical story, has been exploited by extremists on both the right and the left, both by Nazis and communists.

Caricature for “Money is the God of the Jews,”published by Julius Streicher, of Der Stürmer .


As the late antisemitism scholar Robert Wistrich observed, in his attacks on “Jewish capitalism”, Karl Marx charged that “1855 years ago, Christ drove the Jewish money lenders out of the Temple” and that once again, the money changers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny “happen chiefly to be Jews”.

On the white-surpemacist right today, groups such as Stormfront, evoke the story of Jesus chasing money changers from the Temple to support their conspiratorial charge of Jewish financial control.

Sadly, accusations – sometimes rising to the level of Protocols of the Elders of Zion style conspiracies – that Jews are greedy and use their ‘collective wealth’ to manipulate global affairs continues to resonate to varying degrees to this day, even in the mainstream non-extremist West.

During the US financial crisis of 2008, a Boston College poll showed that 24% of Americans (including 32% of self-described Democrats) blamed “the Jews” to some degree for the crisis.  A 2009 poll by ADL of seven European countries revealed that 31% of adults polled blame Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown.

More recent polls show that in many Western European countries, more than a third of respondents believe that “Jews have too much power in global financial markets”.

Regardless of the Guardian writer’s intent, it’s extremely troubling that editors at a self-styled ‘anti-racist’ publication would sanction words which necessarily evoke such a historically toxic, antisemitic calumny while ruminating on the motives of Israeli Jews.


18 replies »

  1. The sheep that support them will probably resort to the excuse that Jews aren’t a race (which is false since we share most of the same genetic markers) to avoid the racism charge. They cannot deny bigotry, however.

  2. The Guardian never prints anything positive about Israel.

    The Guardian never prints anything negative about Palestinians/Arabs.

    Yet it claims to be ‘Fair and Balanced’.

    Interesting that FOX makes exactly the same claim.

  3. Yes, that was my view – Jews/money/Jews/money

    Harriet Sherwood was guilty of the same thing when she covered the 2014 war with Gaza:
    in a comment on Israelis watching the military attacking Gaza from an advantage hill-side view, she commented “I supposed it will add to the value of their houses”

    • Oh sure, Sderot, which probably holds the world record for the town with the most bomb/missile shelters and is within 1 km of Gaza, was bound to have extra value to homes after the 2014 war. After all, there were no more rockets or missiles, were there? And there are no such things as attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel either. Oh, and Hamas did say they will stop all aggression against Israel and Israelis, right? No?

      So Harriet Sherwood believes that the value of Israeli properties in missile, rocket tunnel range of Gaza, have gone up in price? And she is a senior ‘journalist’, working for the Guardian? No wonder the Guardian appends a begging letter to every article it prints. With ‘journos’ like Sherwood, they must be losing A LOT of money!

  4. Maybe the Guardian could, this Christmas, divest themselves of all that dirty money they have and just go out of business. Joy to the world!

  5. Christians have been fleeing Bethlehem since it came under PA rule and so for Christmas the Guardian serves up some antisemitic rhetoric along with the egg nog. Naturally.

  6. Off topic, but I am taking this opportunity to send the seasons greetings to all people of goodwill.
    For those of you celebrating, and those who are just looking for an excuse to celebrate, have a merry christmas and a good festival.

  7. I wonder if Blincoe will admit where the moneychangers were located? It might offend his Palestinian Arab allies were he to renmind everyone that it took place at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

    • Naa, they’ll just say that it was a Muslim temple, same as they claim everything else back to 2,700 years before the birth of their paedophile lord and master.

  8. Thanks for this article. A friend shared the original Guardian article on her FB page and i was outraged, not just by the use of this old antisemitic canard, equating the Zionist cause with financial greed/corruption, but also the blatant factual errors and omissions throughout the article- in essence seeking to erase any Jewish connection to Bethlehem and the surrounding area (including Herodion).
    What i would like to know is whether anyone has complained to the Guardian directly about it?

  9. Is this site for real.
    Please tell me you are just another part of the
    increasingly obvious Hasbara machine.

    • “Is this site for real.”
      No, Geoffrey we are not ‘for real’ we are part of your imagination.
      Do you always write posts to your imagination Geoffrey?

      “Please tell me you are just another part of the
      increasingly obvious Hasbara machine.”
      No, Geoffrey we are part of a top secret, and highly sophisticated, Zionist mind control machine. That is how we are able to make you imagine we are ‘for real’.
      Wait until we get you into Room 101 Geoffrey, then for us the fun begins but the nightmare starts for you.