Jewish People Were Forced To Become Moneylenders

“Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion.” —Giannina Braschi

In A Nutshell

The conspiracies about Jewish bankers go back a long way and are so ingrained that even many people who are not anti-Semitic buy into the theory. Historically, there have been many Jewish people involved in banking, but it was never a conspiracy. In actuality, due to usury laws prescribed by the Jewish scriptures, the Jewish people were considered the logical choice to handle the moneylending. To make matters worse, many Jewish people were barred from other occupations, so they had to take what they could get.

The Whole Bushel

Many people still claim that there is an international banking conspiracy run by a shadowy group of Jewish men who control . . . literally everything in the world. Now, it is true that there are a lot of big Jewish family names in banking and that many of them go back a very long way. But there is no conspiracy. The Jewish people never planned to take over anything or become the banking force that many of them still are today. In fact, when they first started to transform into the forerunners of the modern bankers we see today, they basically had no other choice when it came to a profession.

In medieval Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam held sway and the Jewish people were without a real home. Almost everywhere they went, they were faced with some form of persecution or discrimination. In many cases, they were allowed to live peacefully but wouldn’t be allowed to own land, join the labor guilds, or anything of the sort. Essentially, they had to find some niche to work their way into.

As it turned out, the world was starting to change—new forms of currency and economic practices were emerging. Soon, the economy of the world had a need for moneylenders. The problem was that according to the prevalent Catholic interpretation of biblical law, Christian lenders weren’t allowed to charge interest on loans (although they could apply fees and other costs). This was because a loan was not really considered a banking matter but something nice you did to help someone out; it wasn’t meant to earn you money.

However, the world was increasingly becoming a place where this was necessary—more lending was needed, and with the increased volume of lending, it became an occupation. Those performing it needed to make a living to feed their families. Luckily, the Jewish usury laws were a bit less strict and only forbade charging interest to other Jewish people. This meant that working as middlemen, bankers, and other forms of go-between business became some of the only viable occupations for a nomadic people that were treated with hostility practically everywhere they went.

The Jewish moneylenders quickly became invaluable to the Christian empire. They helped finance new churches and loaned the Christians the money they needed in the ill-fated Crusades in the Middle East. Unfortunately though, despite being sorely needed, the Jews (who were already looked down upon) were being loathed with even more passion than before. The Jewish lenders often had trouble with people not wanting to pay up later, so they charged high interest rates to recoup some of their losses. Before long, many people were very upset with the Jewish people, feeling that their lending practices were unfair. At times, this led to violent attacks against Jewish communities, and oftentimes they found their roles in society relegated basically to the status of slave bankers.

They existed to perform an important role but were often given as few rights as possible. To make matters worse, they were used as scapegoats by the government so people would be angry at the Jewish people for moneylending practices, instead of being angry at their government for high taxes and poor standards of living. And while the Jewish people do not run a secret cabal that controls the world, they did contribute greatly contribute to our modern banking system—and laid the foundation for the future economy.

Show Me The Proof

Barbarians of Wealth: Protecting Yourself from Today’s Financial Attilas, by Sandy Franks, Sara Nunnally
Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism, by Douglas Rushkoff
A History of Credit and Power in the Western World, by Scott B. MacDonald, Albert L. Gastmann

  • Jimmy

    Apparently this was also the reason the English kicked out/murdered a lot of Jews in the 12th Century, not for some religious difference but purely because a group of knights didn’t want to repay their debts. Of course,you can see why some ignorant peasant would believe in this conspiracy. The shocking thing is that people still believe it today. It just doesn’t make sense. If the Jews are subhuman, why can’t the master races stop them? If not even the basic premise of your conspiracy could be justified then you should really just give up.

    • lonelydisco

      Amen to that, he-sister!

  • Hillyard

    This is interesting. The Jews were forced into banking and then the Christians got mad at the thought of having to pay back their loans. Sounds like the typical human response.
    BTW how did that pic of me counting my life savings end up on the web?

  • Joseph

    This is a very good article. I have a feelings that it won’t stop people from believing that foolish conspiracy theory, but it was interesting to read. The Knights Templar also made contributions to banking. They didn’t exactly charge interest, but in reality it was basically interest. The Jews were probably doing it earlier, though. They still both helped create modern banking that we use today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Knights_Templar#Bankers

  • Gary

    The prohibiting of Jews from guilds did force them into filling a niche for usurers. They would most likely have began as pawnbrokers; even today most loans require collateral. This led to Jewish folk also being a prominant presence in the jewelry business. But it was the Templars that first developed networks where monies deposited in one city could be drawn on in another- although, it was a Jew that first took over a National bank. I believe nearly all the Blood Libels and Pogroms against the Jews were the result of too much debt owed to them, and too much wealth for the state, or church, to so easily confiscate by accusing jews of killing babies to make jam to flavor their tasteless unleavened bread. And, of course, the Templars had their own ‘confiscation’, famously, on Friday the 13th.

  • Mike

    Where did the Jews get the money to start lending if they were poor?

    And why was there a need for moneylending if humanity had gotten by without it until then?

  • Mike

    If Jews were poor then where did they get the money to start lending?