The making of a Jewish villain

Joseph Oppenheimer was many things to many people, but he was largely a victim of his own success.

By TIBOR KRAUSZ
December 28, 2017 22:52
Villain (Illustrative)

Villain (Illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

YOUR PLACE in history is secure if nearly three centuries after your death you remain a byword for an entire category of people. Unfortunately for Joseph Süss Oppenheimer, that category has been the vile, depraved and conniving Jew.

It matters little that, as far as we can tell, he was neither vile nor depraved and he connived but little. It’s his Jewishness, not his deeds, that has always mattered in the eyes of Jew-haters. Oppenheimer came to be despised less for what he did than for who he was: an uppity Jew who rose above his station in a highly stratified society where Jews were mostly at the bottom and expected to stay there.

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