By William Markiewicz

Jaques Attali is a prolific writer, former political adviser for Francois Mitterrand. 'Attali' is a common name among Sephardic Jews from Maghreb. Again, I would not have chosen the topic, but as a visitor to Vagabond sent it to me, then "noblesse oblige", I feel a duty to discuss it. I am not sorry though; sometimes the chance brings better fruits than free choice. Ethnicity doesn't interest me as linked to money and/or crime. Nobody holds a grudge against Italians because of the Mafia, and who remembers today that in 19th century New York the gangs were Irish, often engaged in formal battles with the police. Making money is a legal procedure in itself within the free market system and if somebody shows particular skills for it it's their business. If it makes others jealous, that's only normal. Jealousy is one of the most corrosive powers in the world, and the best repellent for jealousy is not to stop being good at something or to hide oneself in a mousehole, but to challenge the jealous.

As examples: the Colonial power of the British until the XX century, the wealth and power of today's USA, inspire bad feelings in many, but if you're physically stronger than the jealous ones you can ignore them. Economic power without physical power however is a paper tiger, and much more a source of a danger than a way to security. Lack of power equals infirmity, sooner or later deadly.

We really don't have a clue why among all the ethnies that wandered through Europe in late antiquity and early middle ages, the Jews, and later Gypsies, were the only ones that didn't develop a self-defense concept. However it was a pretty dangerous world and they had to be aware of it and in those times there were plenty of mountains and forests that could serve as natural shelters and fortresses. Like the Moorish soldiers defeated by Charlemagne who found their niche in the Alps (today's Valais), like the Druze who made their strongholds in Lebanese mountains, they all prospered through history in various trades holding "gold in one hand and weapon in the other." They provoked jealousy perhaps, but earned mostly security through respect. Of course, not all of those wandering groups were successful, but, in my view, it's better to take a big risk than to remain always at the edge of extinction and to regenerate eventually from the parts, as Invertebrates do. The Jews were always looking for safer places, but those places were offered to them by kings and princes, and offered security is not real security. They eventually prospered, made money, and -- were robbed chased away. Then they were reinvited, came back and the same story repeated itself again and again. Philippe le Bel and other kings did it. As I say, we don't have a clue why they didn't learn from history. Of course in our times nobody takes self defense in their own hands but for most groups and nations this problem is resolved through political independence. Only for the Jews and Gypsies does the problem remain unresolved because, in the adolescence of Europe, they didn't take the proper steps. As for Israel, to survive it obviously needs money -- it has it, weapons -- it has them, and political skill -- this it doesn't show.

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