Baroness Ariane de Rothschild.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Twenty years ago, few people in Europe thought of the Rothschilds as Jews. As far as the general public was concerned, they were French bankers and philanthropists. “Rothschild was a brand name,” Baroness Ariane de Rothschild told The Jerusalem Post this week.
The baroness – who heads the Edmond de Rothschild Caesarea Foundation and is a banking and finance expert in her own right – was in Israel for the inauguration of the Crusader Wall Promenade in Caesarea.
She was also receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the Haifa Technion, in recognition of her commitment to making higher education accessible to all young Israelis, especially those from minority groups – particularly their women – who for economic reasons seldom go beyond a Master’s in academia.
The baroness said that the Internet is now crawling with conspiracy theories and statements of outright hatred in connection with the Rothschilds.
“Antisemitism in Europe is a big worry, and can be felt very strongly,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure, and it’s a very big problem. The extreme Right is popping up everywhere.”
One of the solutions, she suggested, was to reach out to help other communities. “Openness helps to lower tension.” Jewish communities in Europe are entrenched – and this doesn’t help to diffuse the situation, she commented.
As much as she supports numerous Israeli and Jewish causes, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild is not Jewish. She’s not the first non-Jewish woman to capture the heart of a Rothschild, but she’s the only one who didn’t convert to Judaism.
“I am caught in the middle,” she said, noting how the antisemites send hate mail, and the ultra-Orthodox send mail reminding her she isn’t Jewish.
“The level of hate mail has become very aggressive,” she said. Nonetheless, she has not allowed the mail to dominate her existence and has not hired additional security personnel.
“To focus on threats is to ruin your life,” she said. “If you’re focused on the threats, you can’t concentrate on other things and you won’t dare get involved in the signing of philanthropic projects.”