If asked to name some of America's oldest old money families you would no doubt throw out names like Rockefeller, Morgan, du Pont, Ford, Cabot, and the like. The extended members of these clans still show up in the society pages today just as they did during the Gilded Age (fun fact: Did you know Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt?) Most of you, I assume, are unfamiliar with the Rosenwald family. Like the McDonald's empire had little to do with the MacDonald Brothers (who sold out to Ray Kroc and were long gone when he turned the company into a global behemoth) Julius Rosenwald took over the Sears & Roebuck Company just two years after it was founded and turned it into the retail hegemon it was until the closing decades of the 20th Century (Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck contributed little more than their names). Rosenwald was one of the richest men of his time, yet he avoided the kind of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" publicity of many of his plutocratic colleagues.

During the Depression he founded the United Jewish Appeal and underwrote Tuskegee Institute, whose board he sat on until his death. While I can't speak to the ethics of what he did to amass his fortune, he did have his heart in the right place when it came to disbursing it in his later years. Of course there was plenty left over for future generations of the Rosenwald family too. And that brings us to his granddaughter and heiress, Nina Rosenwald. You have never heard of her either. But I bet you've seen her money at work.

Whenever the bombs and bullets start flying in the Middle East – lamentably, it is always just a matter of time before Israel and Palestine get back to brawlin' – and the American Pro-Israel Industry launches another media blitz, you're seeing Rosenwald's handiwork. She has been called, and has rightly earned the title of, "The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate." People like Daniel Pipes, Geert Wilders, David Horowitz, and other right-wing Islamophobes have been living off of her money for two decades now. She is to the universe of Islamophobes what Sheldon Adelson (another one of their prominent funders, by the way) was to the Gingrich campaign or what the Koch Brothers are to the Tea Party. Rosenwald has even directly underwritten settlements in the West Bank and Gaza (although she is widely considered something of a rube, an ideologue with a huge bank account and little going on upstairs) along with Adelson.

The noise machine is more active in Europe at the moment. Turns out that most of Western Europe is no better than the U.S. when it comes to assimilating brown-skinned, Arabic- or Turkish-speaking immigrants into their societies. But every time the Israel-Palestine conflict flares up, groups like AIPAC and people like Daniel Pipes start to show up on the talk shows and editorial pages again. Follow the link to learn more about how an heiress you've never heard of has underwritten the entire movement from the shadows.

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11 Responses to “IN THE SHADOWS”

  1. Xynzee Says:

    There's some kind of pro-Isreal videos making the rounds.
    I watched one where the thrust is that the whole thing is motivated by jealousy—which could also be used against the 99%.

    It completely avoids a couple of points of reality. People aren't so much jealous but are not impressed with the evil that the Kochs' chose to use their money to screw everyone else in order to enrich themselves. Which leads to the next point, the lack of opportunity to also partake of the wealth being generated.

    Isreal needs to stop doing really stupid shit like settlements.
    However, Hamas has to be seen for the arseholes they are—eg. storing munitions in residential neighbourhoods they crying foul.

  2. Middle Seaman Says:

    The last round of fighting has not yet caused an outpouring of attempts to get money from fans. It's true of both sides. It's important to realize that both Israelis and Palestinians get outside money after and during skirmishes. Hamas needs the support badly, while Israel's economy is doing fine.

    Every society brings out hate groups. I don't see any reason why Jews should be excluded from the hate disease. We in the US hate so many groups; we shouldn't demand much from others. We have haters of climate change or Hillary even.

    Look at the mirror. (You have a right to a mirror. If you cannot afford a mirror, you are screwed.)

  3. zebbidie Says:

    Hamas should store all their munitions in a large storage shed with "Bomb Me" painted on the roof – or perhaps they could hide them in the thousands and thousands of kilometres of empty desert they control.

  4. RosiesDad Says:

    If you read the linked article, the amounts of donated money are chump change.

    "Rosenwald and her sister Elizabeth Varet, who also directs the family foundation, have donated more than $2.8 million since 2000 to 'organizations that fan the flames of Islamophobia.'"

    "In 2003 alone the Rosenwald Family Fund donated well over half of its $1.6 million in total contributions to pro-Israel and Islamophobic organizations."

    "The $437,000 in donations Gaffney reaped from the Rosenwald family enabled him to churn out conspiratorial pamphlets like his 2010 “Shariah: The Threat to America,” in which he warned that American Muslims were engaged in a “stealth jihad” to place the country under the control of Sharia, or Islamic law."

    "Two years later Rosenwald pumped $10,000 into a similar but markedly more aggressive venture called the American Islamic Forum for Democracy."

    I wouldn't say that this isn't real money but compared with what Adelson pissed away on the Gingrich campaign and what the Koch Bros. spend on influence peddling here, this is not a lot of money. (And it pales in comparison with the aid dollars that the US gives to both Israel and the Palestinians.) So while it might pay to keep Daniel Pipes doing what he does (and the vast majority of Americans have no freaking idea who Daniel Pipes is) this is not philanthropy of huge scale.

  5. Robert Says:

    I've read this described as 'wingnut welfare' – plutocrats and/or foundations funding pundits who know they won't have to compete in the marketplace of ideas. It may explain why the Breitbart crowd are so obsessed with George Soros. They assume their enemies are doing the same thing that they are.

  6. c u n d gulag Says:

    How do I get in on this racket?

    Oh, yeah, never mind…

    I have a brain, and, though an Agnostic, I believe I have something like a soul.

  7. Gator90 Says:

    The linked article is somewhat rambling, but it appears to be a toxic attempt to conflate "pro-Israel" sentiment among Jews, with hatred of Muslims. It is long on innuendo and short on facts, with the latter mostly consisting of small donations from one rich loon to a small number of fringe crackpots whose spheres of influence are quite limited. (I was amused by the author's reference to $15,000 donations to Commentary magazine, even as he derided the magazine's "increasingly minuscule readership.")

  8. Major Kong Says:

    I'd say there is a fair amount of overlap if Pam Geller is any indication.

  9. Gator90 Says:

    @Major Kong: Ms. Geller is a nasty piece of work, but a fringe figure at best. If she has a following among American Jewish friends of Israel, it's pretty damned small. Most of them have never heard of her, I can assure you.

    Certainly there are Jewish supporters of Israel who are bigoted toward Muslims, but there are many more gentiles who are also bigoted toward Muslims, and most of them have never heard of Pam Geller either.

  10. Comrade P J Says:

    Makes me wish for a 100% estate tax for these useless wealthy fucks. Or at least 90%. Let's do the class struggle up right. We will probably have to let them live. Pity, that.

  11. sad Says:


    The most common criticism I get from this site is that I spend very little time (close to none, honestly) talking about solutions and lots of time talking about how much everything is screwed up.


    …or pitching achievable but ultimately useless solutions to make people feel like they're doing something (Write your Congressman!).


    Attach "write your congressmen" to the end of every complaint.

    Problem solved. Stop complaining.

    Love ya… sad