Spencer J. Quinn
A Review of Hervé Ryssen’s The Jewish Mafia
The Jewish Mafia
Self-published by the translator, Carlos Porter, 2016
“I believe in America.”
These are the first words spoken in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 landmark film, The Godfather. They are spoken by an Italian immigrant, a mortician, who is coming to his local mafia boss for some extra-legal assistance. The double meaning is clear. In America, one can succeed honestly or dishonestly. Either way, there is a lot to believe in.
Jewish-American crime boss Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg – pimp, racketeer, drug-dealer, and arms smuggler – had little use for such literary niceties. For him, there was only one meaning of America. “I love this country,” he once enthused. “It’s so easy to steal here!”
Anecdotes like this one populate much of Hervé Ryssen’s The Jewish Mafia, an in-depth account of Jewish underworld crime throughout the centuries. Written in 2008 and finally translated into English from the French by Carlos W. Porter in 2016, The Jewish Mafia focuses mostly on the twentieth and twenty-first century misdeeds of diaspora Jews who organized to take advantage of the gentiles that surround them. Jews have victimized other Jews both in Israel and abroad, and Ryssen makes sure to cover that as well.
Throughout the book, however, Ryssen consistently brings home three central themes. One is the silence with which Jewish organized crime is received by the major news and media organs in West. It’s to the point where most are unaware that the Jewish stereotype of the sleazy, underhanded criminal could ever be found outside of Dickens novels and Shakespeare plays. Since the Second World War, there has been a cover-up of this “invisible mafia,” a “Chose-merta,” if you will. And Ryssen does what he can to pull the curtain back to reveal it.
The second theme is the sameness of it all. When there is money to be made, Jews will find a way to make it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a shtetl near Odessa, a sugar plantation in South America, a gold mine in South Africa, or a strip club in Florida, Jews have a genius for profit, and if given an inch they will take a mile. Ryssen makes clear that most Jews are not like this. He also makes clear that of the Jews who are, many possess scruples and stay within the bounds of the law. But the ones who don’t keep cropping up everywhere throughout history doing pretty much the same things: stealing, lying, bribing, pimping, smuggling, embezzling, and dealing in contraband, among other wrongdoings. It’s more than a trend.
Sadly, it’s an absolute. Further, it’s one that powerful elites would prefer not be disclosed. Despite being put on trial thirteen times and imprisoned for three months in 2015 for his writing (and despite how journalist Paul Klebnikov was “murdered by the Jewish mafia” after writing a book exposing how Jewish gangsters devastated the former Soviet Union in the 1990s), Ryssen does the brave and dangerous work of disclosing it.
Ryssen’s ultimate theme is more meta. As often as possible, he cites Jewish sources, which makes many of his points difficult to impugn.
Ryssen starts off with perhaps the most well-known instances of Jewish crime: the American gangsters of the early- to mid-twentieth century. Financial genius Meyer Lansky, contract killer and head of “Murder Incorportated” Louis Buchalter, and celebrity psychopath Bugsy Siegel are the most famous examples, but there are many more. Hand-in-hand with the Sicilian mafia, Jewish gangsters co-created what became known as “the Syndicate” in 1929, the first true example of organized crime in America. Of the “Big Seven” permanent members of the Syndicate, four were Sicilians (including “Lucky” Luciano) and three were Jews. In fact, prior to the formation of the Syndicate, Luciano enlisted Siegel and other Jewish killers to bump off Salvatore Maranzano, the sole head of the Sicilian mob (the Capo di Tutti Capi), precisely because Maranzano didn’t want to join forces with Jews.
Ironic how an act of philo-Semitism resulted in the formation of history’s most famous crime organization, isn’t it?
Next, Ryssen chronicles the rise of the Jewish “oligarchs” who took full advantage of the economic chaos following the fall of the Soviet Union to make their fortunes. The principal villains here are Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, two Jewish men who engaged in the “great, shameless pillaging of the natural resources of the country,” buying at ridiculously low prices and selling abroad to amass their riches, all the while evading taxes and providing kickbacks aplenty. Fur, nickel, lumber, aluminum, didn’t matter. Commodities were bought and sold, and the traders (many of whom, like Berezovsky, were in cahoots with Russian Prime Minister Boris Yeltsin) in large part got away with it. Petroleum was the most profitable, and so became “one of the principal battlefields of organized crime in Russia,” according to Klebnikov. Ryssen goes further to say that “[c]riminal groups killed those who refused to work with them, and many refinery managers were assassinated.”
Ryssen writes that this “resulted in a 50% collapse of the Russian gross domestic product.” Klebnikov stated that “[a]ll those who traveled in Russia in the first few years of the Yeltsin era were struck by the spectacle of Russian citizens attempting to survive.” All the while, billions of dollars coming out of Russia were being laundered in the United States.
Despite holding an Israeli passport, Berezovsky operated from within the Yeltsin government. He had established close ties with Chechen terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists, and other criminals who carried out over 130 kidnappings and numerous political assassinations in the 1990s. Berezovsky even admitted that he and his cronies were “100% responsible” for Yeltsin’s reelection in 1996. With the rise of Vladimir Putin, however, things got a little too hot for the oligarchs, with Gusinsky eventually fleeing to Israel and Berezovsky to England.
Throughout this chapter, Ryssen makes judicious use of scare quotes, always referring to it as the “Russian” mafia, since, despite this common misunderstanding, the leadership of this particular mafia was hardly Russian at all.
One slightly less prevalent theme of The Jewish Mafia is the open-borders and globalist predilection of these Jewish criminals. Nationalism of all sorts – other than Israeli nationalism, of course – is bad for business, and therefore should be shunned. Jews, with their business acumen and vast, familial networks across the globe were able to exploit markets in nearly all fields, illicit ones included. In a chapter called “Arms, Junk, and Diamonds,” Ryssen takes us through the international drug trade and addresses dozens upon dozens of Jewish criminals, each by name. A few women, rabbis, Sephardic Jews, and Hasidim are included.
Porn gets its own chapter as well. Ryssen describes the Jews’ historical links to the skin trade, from Jack Kahane’s publishing of obscene novels in the 1930s, to Francis Mischkind’s spearheading of the porno cinema revolution in 1970s France, to Gary Kremen and Stephen Cohen’s bringing of porn to the Internet in the 1990s. Tied with porn, of course, is prostitution, and Ryssen takes us along the nearly 150-year-long connection between Jews and the White slave trade. Despite their small numbers, the Jews were major players in this hideous market from the late nineteenth century until the Second World War. Their enterprises took them from the Far East and India to Turkey, Europe, Israel, South America, and the United States. Often, Jewish brothel owners were shunned by their own kind, and so formed their own, separate Jewish communities. Most infamous is the Zwi Migdal of Argentina, which set up its own synagogues and graveyards, since the legitimate Jewish communities refused to recognize them. While it is true that, prior to the Second World War, the majority of the girls being victimized were Jewish, after the fall of the Soviet Union, that honor fell to Slavic girls who had previously lived behind the Iron Curtain.
And speaking of slaves, Ryssen does not leave out the role Jews played in the sale and transport of Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, many Spanish Jews who had recently converted to Christianity (called marranos or conversos) owned and ran enormous sugar plantations in South America. According to Ryssen, they were mostly responsible for the purchase and transport of black African slaves once they arrived. According to Jewish writer Marc Lee Raphael, “Jewish traders played a very major role in the slave trade at Curacao in the 17th century, as well as in the British colonies in Barbados and Jamaica in the 18th century.” In the United States, it was hardly any different. Again, according to Ryssen:
Here, as well, Jews were among the biggest traders until the abolition of slavery . . . in 1865. In the 17th century, when slavery was still prohibited in the north, four rich Israelite traders from Philadelphia, Sandiford Lay, Woolman, Solomon, and Benazet, worked with legislators to amend the law and obtain its legalization, thus making Newport, Rhode Island, the hub of the American slave trade and home to the biggest Jewish community in the United States at that time.
This is not to let whites off the hook for the atrocities committed during this time, of course, but it should be known that Jews possessed no moral high ground when it came to the slave trade. They were just as enthusiastic about it as the white Christians were. Perhaps more so, given that abolitionism was a Christian phenomenon, and it was white Christians who ended the slave trade and slavery in the United States after the Civil War.
Despite being a strong dose of truth in a subject matter often clouded in lies, Ryssen’s work does suffer from time to time from a lack of focus. For example, in the chapter entitled “The Porno Mafia,” he implies that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and sexploitation filmmaker Russ Meyer were both Jewish, which isn’t true. In his chapter about the African slave trade, he cites a work called The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews by “black American researcher Louis Farrakhan.” Through Farrakhan, Ryssen provides a list of twenty-seven Jewish slave traders who operated out of Newport in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While I don’t challenge the accuracy of Farrakhan’s list, to label Louis Farrakhan (a hateful, anti-white demagogue if there ever was one) as nothing more than a “researcher” is a little too much for the discerning reader to swallow. The same goes for quoting proven liar and terrorist Yasser Arafat as an honest source in Ryssen’s chapter on Jewish ties to organ trafficking.
Ryssen also dedicates a chapter to how the Ottoman Empire captured and traded in white Christian slaves from 1500 to 1800. He relies heavily on Robert Davis’ indispensable 2004 work Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters and provides a serviceable summary of how over a million Europeans were enslaved in the Muslim world during this period. While it’s admirable that he helps spread the word about Robert Davis’ research, the fact remains that Davis made very little mention of Jews in his work. Ryssen ends the chapter rather unconvincingly by speculating about how Jews may have had a role in the enslavement of white Europeans during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire.
The Jewish Mafia could also do with some perspective. Aside from the first chapter, in which the Sicilian mafia rightly receives much attention as rivals and partners of Jewish gangsters, Ryssen tells us very little about the underworld activities of other ethnic groups as a means of comparison. For example, Edward J. Bristow does this in Prostitution and Prejudice, his comprehensive work on the Jewish role in white slavery, which Ryssen cites as a source. As a matter of fact, Bristow dedicates many pages to the concerted Jewish fight against white slavery. Were there any similar Jewish efforts against Jewish organized crime? Ryssen never really says, despite how useful such knowledge would be to our understanding of this controversial topic.
Despite this, Ryssen succeeds in raising the question of why the Jews were so despised and so often evicted from European nations throughout history. Sure, they were clannish and “stiff-necked,” and isolated themselves from their host populations. Their love for business, coupled with their lack of patriotism and anti-nationalist sentiment, did them few favors as well. But, as Ryssen points out, a small yet influential minority of them were never above living what we call today the thug life, and this always managed to annoy their gentile neighbors, to say the least. Ryssen cites many famous names throughout history to help prove his point: Tacitus, Kant, Napoleon, Martin Luther, Alexander Pope, and others, all saying more or less the same thing. Should they all be dismissed as “anti-Semites?” Or maybe there was something to their criticisms of Jews?
Ryssen relies on the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn several times in his book. In Two Hundred Years Together (which is sadly still not translated into English in its entirety), Solzhenitsyn offers a broad history of Russian Jewry, and has both positive and negative things to say about Jews. In two telling passages quoted in The Jewish Mafia, Solzhenitsyn tells it like it is. In one, Solzhenitsyn writes:
These people purchased the right to levy tribute from the Tatars, they practiced exorbitant usury against the poor, and, in the event of non-payment, declared them slaves and sold them into captivity. The inhabitants of Vladimir, Suzdal, and Rostov very soon lost patience and rose up simultaneously and as one man, at the sound of the bells, to destroy the evil usurers; some were killed, others were expelled.
In another, Solzhenitsyn quotes Ivan the Terrible in a letter from 1550 to the Polish King explaining why Jews should not be allowed into Russia:
. . . we have already written to you several times, speaking of the villainous actions of the Jews, who turn away from Christ, introducing poisoned drugs into our State, and causing to our people.
Also according to Solzhenitsyn, Czar Alexander I evicted Jews from their villages in 1804 because they were producing and dealing in cheap brandy, which was “harming the health of the peasants.” Solzhenitsyn is what I would call a big gun. No writer was as brave and as honest as Solzhenitsyn, and Ryssen was wise to cite him. If Solzhenitsyn says that Jewish criminality was the reason why Jews were evicted from towns and countries throughout history, then that is authoritative. All of Ryssen’s other data essentially serves to prove that Solzhenitsyn was right.
Of course, none of this justifies crimes committed against Jews by gentiles – and make no mistake, there was a lot of that. But by bringing up the thorny issue of the Jewish mafia, compiling it all in one volume, and supporting it with citations from as many Jewish sources as possible, Hervé Ryssen has made a critical contribution to the conversation that will one day get to the bottom of the Jewish Question.
And perhaps then we will come to an answer we can all believe in.