Saturday, July 18, 2009

“Swindler’s List” - Then and Now

In March 1994, the late Doug Collins published a typically acerbic column in Vancouver’s North Shore News; this one under the header “Hollywood Propaganda.” Here Collins had -- to quote Canadian Jewish Congress talking-head Bernie Farber -- “clearly crossed the bounds of decency” by satirizing Schindler’s List, the Holocaust blockbuster by director Steven Spielberg, by calling it Swindler’s List.

Soon after, B’nai Brith Canada, the CJC’s sister organization, lodged a formal complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Commission against Collins for his temerity. Among its other sins, his March 9 column had referred to the huge Jewish influence prevaiing in Hollywood; the columnist predicted that Spielberg would win an Oscar for Schindler’s List because of it.

Two weeks later, Collins wrote a follow-up. Spielberg had, sure enough, won an Academy Award. In it, he explained to readers why he called the Spielberg movie Swindler’s List: “[E]ven the wife of the dead hero has said he was a scoundrel.”

Which brings us to the disgraced investement maven, Bernard Madoff. Thousands of people and dozens of charities, many Jewish, were bilked of millions by the veteran Wall Street investor. Media stories of Madoff’s “giant Ponzi scheme” abound and the broad spectrum of his victims has often been reported on with headlines unself-consciously declaiming “Swindler’s List.”

Prime example: An item in the Jewish Journal’s on-line Christmas Day edition, bearing the subtitle “Wiesel Foundation lost ‘substantially all’ its savings.” The article wistfully describes how a charity founded in the name of Nobel laureate and Auschwitz internee, Elie Wiesel, had invested virtually its entire fund with Bernard Madoff and in consquence was now bankrupt. I

ronically, Steven Spielberg has also been included as a Madoff victim in “Swindler’s List” news items.

Oh, and . . . Joel Stein writing in the Los Angeles Times (Dec. 19, 2008) asks: “How Jewish is Hollywood?”

Stein’s answer: “Jews totally run Hollywood.”

Even the late Doug Collins had not been nearly so unabashed.

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