South Korea – Jewish organizations over the weekend denounced what they say are anti-Semitic statements in the South Korean media blaming Jews for attempts to block a corporate merger between two subsidiaries of the Samsung conglomerate.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have called upon the Asian country’s government and on Samsung to repudiate the claims, which have appeared in a number of business publications supportive of the deal.
The target of the opprobrium is Paul Singer, the Jewish head of the Elliot Associates hedge fund, which owns a seven percent stake in Samsung C&T, which seeks to merge with Chiel Industries.
According to South Korean financial publication MoneyToday, “Elliott is led by a Jew, Paul E. Singer, and ISS [an advisory firm that analyzed the merger] is an affiliate of Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), whose key shareholders are Jewish. According to a source in the finance industry, Jews have a robust network demonstrating influence in a number of domains.”
Meanwhile, Mediapen, another local publication, asserted that Jews are known to wield enormous power on Wall Street and in global financial circles” and that it is a “well-known fact that the US government is swayed by Jewish capital.”
Jewish money, it reported, “has long been known to be ruthless and merciless.”
In an accompanying photo, Singer was referred to as the “greedy, ruthless head of a notorious hedge fund.”
“Anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money have a long and dark history, sowing distrust and other negative feelings towards Jews,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement calling upon the government to condemn the stories.
“These malicious myths are among some of the most widely held stereotypes about Jews, and are far from harmless.”
Fifty three percent of Koreans harbor anti-Semitic attitudes according to a global survey of anti-Semitic attitudes conducted by the ADL last year which measured agreement with eleven statements widely considered to be indicators of bigotry.
Fifty seven percent of respondents agreed and concurred that Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
“Sadly, this controversy reflects the attitudes in our polling results. Anti-Semitism is a concern in South Korea and the government needs to publicly condemn these ugly expressions and educate people as to why these stereotypes are dangerous and false,” Foxman said.
However, not everyone agrees that the survey’s results are necessarily reflective of an anti-Jewish antipathy. Copies of the Talmud are popular reading in Korea, where some parents are looking to emulate Jewish successes.
According to one Rabbi living in Korea who was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, perceptions of Jews that may be considered negative in the West may been seen in a different light in the East.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a strongly worded statement calling on Samsung to distance itself from its supporters’ comments.
“To be clear, as a human rights organization, we have no involvement in or opinion about the proposed merger. That is to be decided by the companies and stockholders of Samsung C&T and Chiel Industries. However, there should be no place for anti-Semitism in any discussion involving this matter,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the organization’s associate dean.
“We know all too well that the use of such historic anti-Semitic canards fans the flames of hatred throughout history, often leading to the denigration, violence and even genocide against the Jewish people. We urge the leadership of all sides debating the proposed merger to publicly denounce those who have chosen to poison the debate by deploying of history’s oldest hate to influence the Korean public on this issue.”