We all remember the collapse of Lehman Brothers; for some, it is burned in their brains as an indelible memory. Shortly after their collapse, a strongly anti-Semitic conspiracy theory began spreading through the internet, a theory that claimed Lehman Brothers had managed to transfer an amount of $400 billion to Israel the day before the collapse. Is it true ?
That conspiracy theory was started by one news report and was quickly distributed across many websites, mostly anti-Israeli and ant-Semitic. The news report alleged that client money was passed to no less than three different Israeli banks by senior Jewish officials at the bank. Their intention, the allegations claim, was to skip the country and head to Israel to enjoy the money, knowing they couldn’t be extradited to face charges.
Lehman Brothers Investment Bank was founded in 1850 in the United States. It was started by Jewish immigrants who came to the States from Germany and, following their collapse, Jews have been accused of causing the great financial meltdown of 2008 in a series of anti-Semitic comments spread across the internet. Those same comments claim that Jews were the largest beneficiaries of the financial crash and, although most of these comments have been found on websites and forums that are clearly racist, some can also be found on the mainstream sites.
The Anti-Defamation League in the USA and many other international bodies monitor anti-Semitism closely and hundreds of these comments were documented within a two week period. Some prominent Islamic organizations, such as Gaza’s Hamas, have also joined in, adding their voices to blaming the Jewish lobby. Hamas also came out and claimed that the financial crash was punishment for the bad deeds done by America, in their eyes of course.
Back to this conspiracy theory, though. The allegation of the $400 billion transfer is highly focused and the story that went viral on the internet was written as if it came from Washington, sporting a byline of “Voice of the White House”. Three Israeli banks are mentioned as having been in receipt f the money and the story goes into deep detail about the bank secrecy act and the extradition laws in Israel. The initial “news” report also claimed that America was well aware of the transfer. Littered through the story are excerpts from a genuine article that was published on the economic news wire for Bloomsburg, an article that talked of potential $400 billion losses for the bank, specifically naming the brokerage division of Lehman Brothers as the source of the loss.
A former journalist known for publishing conspiracy theories related to Israel, Jews and the US Administration, Jeff Rense was the first to publish this story and it was soon picked up and reposted multiple times on anti-Semitic blogs and websites. Web surfers who saw it copied it onto more respectable websites, like that of the website for The Independent newspaper in the UK and Huffington Post.
Whether it is true or not is something that only a handful of people will ever know. What is clear is that this conspiracy is eerily reminiscent of earlier anti-Semitic allegations, including the one that claims the Israeli Mossad knew weeks beforehand that the Twin Towers would be attacked on 9/11, warning all Jews who worked in the complex not to go to work that day. And, no doubt, the conspiracy theorists will continue to come up with these theories long into the future.
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