The Greedy Jew is a trope about Jewish people being greedy and malicious. The stereotype exists for a number of reasons, but mainly derives from trade restrictions placed upon Jews in medieval and early modern Europe. Jews weren't allowed to join trade guilds or own land in most countries, which led most Jewish men to enter professions that didn't require guild membership such as banking. Since Jewish holy law doesn't forbid Jews to charge interest, at least to non-Jewsnote , Jews became associated with usurious and often exploitative banking procedures, even though Christian bankers such as the de' Medicis did the same thing.
Thus works written or set in these time periods would show Jews being evil and receiving Karmic Deaths for it. Eventually someone took it to the next level and wrote a conspiracy theory of Jews controlling the banking system. Believe it or not, even the garden variety of anti-Semite didn't buy that lie, but Those Wacky Nazis weren't your garden variety anti-Semites and they turned up the stereotype to eleven.
As you might guess, anything used to justify Nazism fell out of favor after roughly 1945, which is why you don't usually see this trope being played straight in the West any more — except by the odd neo-Nazi or "edgy" troll (which can be hard to tell apart). Though, sometimes the stereotype is used against centralized banking (see above re: conspiracy theories and the banking system), which caused many troubles (Without necessarily having Jewish people involved). Latter-day invocations of this trope are usually used to characterize the person expressing this sentiment as an anti-Semite.
Unfortunately, most of these old stereotypes are now applied to Arabs in more modern media. There's also a lesser-known (at least in the West) Armenian variant to this trope. Armenians were known as the Jews of the Middle East for a long time (until the actual Jews came back to the Middle East). The trope was used to justify a genocide against them too, before the Holocaust happened.
- It may not have been the best design decision to give the Merchant◊ in Citadels such a hooked nose. And greedy grin.
- An In-Universe example from Watchmen: An editorial cartoon in the extremist New Frontiersman magazine depicts a chained-up superhero facing giant, ethnic-stereotype personifications of corruption. Among these is "Big Biz", depicted as a stereotypical Jewish banker, dollar signs in his eyes, taunting the superhero with "Oy vey! I know vhere you liff!"
- In the original version of the Tintin book The Shooting Star (published in Nazi occupied Belgium during WWII), the main antagonist was an American banker named Blumenstein whose physical features closely resemble Nazi Jewish caricatures. Hergé later tried to remedy this by changing the banker's nationality to that of a fictional Banana Republic and changed his name to "Bohlwinkel ", after a Dutch dialect word for "sweet shop". Unfortunately, as Hergé found out later, Bohlwinkel is also a Jewish surname but that remained unaltered. It also featured some stereotyped greedy Jews rubbing their hands and gloating over the fact that if the world ended, they wouldn't have to repay their creditors. Unsurprisingly, this frame is cut in later editions.
- The Smurfs enemy Gargamel might have been based on this stereotype. Maybe. French sociologist Antoine Buéno presented this theory, suggesting that the character’s big nose, magic powers, love of gold, and keeping a Mezuzah by the door of his house (clearly identifiable in several panels of the original comic) indicated it. Also, this may be why his cat was named “Azrael”, the Jewish name for the Angel of Death. (There is evidence to the contrary, however. “Gargamel” is not a Jewish name, but is taken from the French novel Gargantua and of Pantagruel, where Gargamelle is the mother of Gargantua and a giant, fitting as Gargamel is a giant compared to the Smurfs. Seeing as Yvan Delporte – Peyo’s co-author who designed the character – had a Jewish wife, “Azrael” could have just been an inside joke.)
- Art Spiegelman's Maus has the author-surrogate's father (himself a Jewish Holocaust survivor) all but calling the bullying, hypocritical inmate Yidl this trope by name.
- Said father is also one, to an extent that would be seen as either an over-the-top parody or an extremely offensive stereotype, had the character been fictional and not the author's father. Spiegelman wrestles with this in the meta-narration, torn between affirming the crude racial stereotype and falsifying parts of what is essentially his father's biography.
- Chilean comic Condorito use to have one; Don Jacoibo, but it was remove from latter issues due to complains about Unfortunate Implications.
- Some propaganda films from Nazi Germany are naturally filled with the trope, although it should be noted that they weren't openly, front and center antisemitic until 1940. By this point Nazis didn't bother about international opinions anymore after World War II started.
- Jew Süss is an example, though the main claim is that Jews rape Aryan women, which is elaborated on towards the end - this is in-keeping with Josef Goebbels's belief that propaganda should be as subtle as possible, so that the people maintain the illusion that their ideas are the product of rational thought and are therefore more likely to commit themselves to them as they are seen as being something personal to them rather than something the state hammers into them. The film was so effective that it reportedly inspired several murders of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, and was shown to concentration camp guards.
- Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew). It was a notorious flop, both because it was incredibly boring, artistically inept and shockingly crude and sensationalist when compared to Jew Süss, which was an engaging period drama with costumes, interesting plot line to engage the audience and starred leading German actors of the time. It also had some disgusting scenes of Jewish ritual slaughter that turned the audience's stomach. Even some Germans who had lived under years of Nazi rule found it absurd. For the most part, the film was viewed by party supporters and Nazi organizations like the Hitler Youth and the SS. It is widely noted that SS troops headed for the Eastern front to carry out the Final Solution were "invited" by Himmler to watch the film.
- The Rothschilds, a biopic of the famous banking family, complete with the expected conspiracy theories (plus some anti-British propaganda, befitting its wartime production). It's an unattributed remake of a 1934 Hollywood film, The House of Rothschild, which was decidedly less negative towards the Rothschilds.
- In Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings, Caiaphas, head of the Sanhedrin and a guy who really doesn't like Jesus, is said to care more about revenue than religion. (He is also portrayed physically as a crude anti-Semitic stereotype.)
- Borat portrays "Kazakhstan" as being rife with this and many other stereotypes about Jewish people. Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat's antisemitism to the hilt in an effort to see who will casually agree with him. Many viewers who didn't understand the full joke failed to realize that Cohen is himself a practicing Jew, granting him a claim at N-Word Privileges.
- In Harold Lloyd's Safety Last!, Harold buys a chain for his girlfriend from a shifty jeweler with a hooked nose called Silverstein, who constantly wrings his hands in avarice. The soundtrack shifts into Klezmer-type music here, just so we get the point. Harold, embarrassed, starts imitating the man's hand-wringing. The joke is still amusing to modern audiences, because of the added irony of knowing that Harold Lloyd himself is Jewish.
- The Turkish film Valley of the Wolves: Iraq features Gary Busey as a Jewish-American doctor who harvests the organs of prisoners of war for sale to the American elite.
- Slovak film The Shop on Main Street is set in 1942, when Slovakia was a fascist puppet state of Nazi Germany. The protagonist's wife sincerely believes in this trope. She's overjoyed when he is assigned custody of a shop that has been taken away from its Jewish owner. She sincerely believes that the woman who owns the shop must have a hidden pile of money somewhere, and keeps pestering her husband to find it.
- In Lacombe, Lucien, a French film about a teenaged boy working with the French Gestapo, one of Les Collaborateurs says of the advancing Allies that "I don't want to be liberated by the Rothschild bank."
- The Malik, villain of Kazaam is the Arab version. He has a stereotypical appearance, is introduced with ominous arabic music, and wants all the money in the world. Reviewers have noted this.
- The Verdict: In one instance of the main character calling around using false identities to get information for his case, he gives his name as "Mr. Goldberg" while passing as an accountant.
- The Phantom Menace was accused of featuring several alien races based on racial stereotypes. One of them is Watto. His obsession with money and gambling, big nose, and vaguely Yiddish accent are all aspects of the stereotype.
- Conspiracy: Discussed Trope. There's an interesting back-and-forth between Heydrich and Kritzinger when the former gets fed up with the latter's recalcitrance to sign off on the Holocaust. Heydrich parrots the usual Nazi party line of a Jewish conspiracy controlling the banks when Kritzinger basically calls him a liar to his face. Realizing that they're never going to see eye to eye, Heydrich resorts to death threats instead to get him on board.
- Fagin of Oliver Twist is a miserly Jewish crook who persuades homeless Christian boys to steal for him, even though many of them get executed for their crimes. Dickens claimed that he made Fagin a Jew because he believed that most of the real London "kidsmen" were in fact Jewish. After befriending some Jews and learning how much the character offended them, Dickens attempted amends by editing out some of the Jewish references and stereotypes. In Our Mutual Friend, he essays an Author's Saving Throw with Mr. Riah, who initially appears to be yet another Greedy Jew, but then turns out to be a subversion.
- Yankel from Taras Bulba. Though he is potrayed as a greedy coward, he is pretty much Only Sane Man among the characters, because eponymous Cossack warlord is a bloodthirsty warmonger, and other Cossacks are potrayed as ruthless warriors who love nothing more then fight and also Rape, Pillage, and Burn.
- The Jew Among Thorns (one of Grimm's Fairy Tales). After torturing a Jewish merchant for all the people he has undoubtedly swindled by forcing him to dance in a thornbush with a magic fiddle, the hero extorts the merchant for all of his valuables. Once in town, the hero is arrested and accused of stealing the merchant's things. The hero responds that the merchant gave them to him, and is promptly laughed at since a Jew would never give away his things like that. Just before he is executed, however, the hero is granted the request to play his magic fiddle once more. Upon doing so, everyone around him bursts into Involuntary Dance. The hero threatens to keep playing until the merchant admits to all his crimes. The merchant finally confesses, and is executed, and everyone important lived happily ever after.
- Isaac of York in Ivanhoe is somewhere between an example and a subversion. The character is a rich Jewish moneylender who clearly loves his wealth and seems to have an inexhaustible supply of hidden money caches, yet he spends most of the story trying to keep his daughter safe and repeatedly proclaims that he values her above all his wealth. He appears to be based on Ephraim Lópes Pereira d'Aguilar, 2nd Baron d'Aguilar, an eccentric Sephardic Jewish nobleman known for being stingy, hiding large amounts of money throughout his home, and for being a strange yet loving man.
- Beau Geste features a particularly unpleasant grotesque Jewish pawnbroker stereotype. Made egregious by the fact that the scene is completely extraneous to the plot, and seems to have been thrown in just to have a chance to emphasize that Jews are filthy misers.
- Subverted in the Swedish 19th century novel Drottningens juvelsmycke, with its greedy, stereotypically Jewish jeweler Benjamin Cohen. He is only pretending to be Jewish. Actually he represents another national stereotype - the evil Dane.
- Both invoked and subverted in Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. The Ambiguously Jewish Melmotte fits the stereotype, but the definitely Jewish Mr. Brehgert is arguably the most honorable character in the book.
- Isaacs the Jewish theater owner in The Picture of Dorian Gray is a particularly anti-semitic example even for Victorian times. He's repeatedly described as old, vile and disgusting. Though he claims to have a passion for Shakespeare, his productions are cheap and shabby. He's obsequious towards high-class customers and wears an enormous diamond on his shirt.
- Often associated with this trope, but somewhat different in implication, are the ambitious Villain Protagonists of several 20th-century novels by Jewish authors:
- Meyer Hirsch from Samuel Ornitz's Haunch, Paunch and Jowl: The Making of a Professional Jew (originally published as an anonymous memoir).
- Harry Bogen from Jerome Weidman's I Can Get It For You Wholesale.
- Sammy Glick from Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run?.
- The otherwise heartbreakingly beautiful Decadent tale "The Egg of the Albatross" by Eric, Count von Stenbock, is marred by his having made the villain of the piece a "certain Portuguese Jew" called Mendes. He's not only a slick, greedy bastard, but Stenbock drops a couple of hints that he's after more from the little girl than her albatross egg.
- Here's a number of stories from the Nazi children's book Der Giftpilz that are pretty representative. Here's some illustrations in case you feel like barfing. Readers of Doris Orgel's The Devil In Vienna will be familiar with this one◊.
- Invoked in John Moore's Fractured Fairy Tale, The Unhandsome Prince—this is one of the reasons the King and Prince Kenneth (not the prince of the title) cite to support their plan to kick the Jews out of the kingdom and confiscate their property (neatly solving the family's money problems).
- In McTeague There is a stereotypically greedy Jewish person named Zerkow who LOVES gold. He loves hearing about gold, he loves seeing gold, he loves touching gold. One of his most frequent companions is a lady named Maria Macapa, The Ophelia of the story but he only wants to talk to her because she has a tendency to ramble on about a fortune her family once owned, particularly a few sets of pure gold dishes. The two marry and she tells him the story several times until he becomes convinced that she has the fortune hidden somewhere and that the location is somehow hidden within the story. Sadly on the particular day he asks her to tell it she denies that she ever said such things and calls him crazy. The results aren't pretty, even when you consider his fate.
- In the Hercule Poirot novel Peril at End House, Poirot is suspicious of an art-dealer who is offering Nick far too much for a painting, describing him as "the long-nosed Mr Lazarus" when saying this behaviour is unusual. (The character is also called "A Jew, of course, but a frightfully decent one".) It transpires that Lazarus intends Nick to get the painting valued, discover he's being generous, and then not get a valuation the next time he offers to buy a painting from her.
- There's a prehistoric example in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Queen of the Black Coast" although it's portrayed more as an aesthetic fascination akin to what you might expect from Dwarves. Bêlit is a Shemite (Semite), and when she and Conan find the treasure they're after, she sits there mesmerized by its beauty instead of picking it up and getting the hell out of there — which ultimately leads to her death. "The Shemite soul finds a bright drunkenness in riches and material splendor, and the sight of this treasure might have shaken the soul of a sated emperor of Shushan."
- The narrator of Mutiny on the Bounty writes of "...sharp-faced Jews, in their wherries, hovered alongside, eager to lend money at interest against pay day, or to sell on credit the worthless trinkets on their trays."
- The Great Gatsby: The only criminal associate of Gatsby's that we ever meet is Meyer Wolfsheim, an oily Jewish gangster who wears human teeth as cufflinks. He speaks with a Funetik Aksent to show that he's not part of proper gentile society in spite of his wealth. He's said to have rigged the 1919 World Series, pegging him as a No Celebrities Were Harmed take on Arnold Rothstein, the real-life Jewish gangster who is said to have done the same thing.
- Sons of Anarchy brushes against this trope. Bobby, the Jew of the gang, seems to be their official accountant. In one episode, he states that his father was a mob accountant who was skilled at skimming off the top. On the other hand, he is opposed to the gang getting in the drug trade, despite all the money it'll make.
- The Wire features Maurice Levy, a corrupt lawyer for various drug gangs who is probably the most despicable character in the series. Not only does he break all the cardinal rules of his profession, suborning perjury, grand jury tampering, advising his clients in their criminal operations, and at one point taking part in a conspiracy to commit murder, he actively hopes his clients will be arrested because it means more billable hours for him. He gets off scot-free at the end. The best the police can manage is to arrest his clients in the middle of the night to pull him away from his wife's brisket. Show creator David Simon, a Jew himself, says that he is based on several real Baltimore drug laywers, all of whom were Jewish, and rhetorically asks how he can pull a punch where his own "tribe" is concerned when his show features greedy whites, greedy blacks, greedy foreigners, and greedy Christians?
- The Doctor Who story "The Web of Fear" has the highly unfortunate character of Julius Silverstein, an extremely stereotyped Jewish art collector. He responds to suggestions that it might be dangerous to have a deactivated alien killbot in his collection with accusations that the person who is worried is trying to con it out of him, gloats about how "priceless" it is, and quickly gets killed when it predictably gets reactivated.
- Inverted in the Israeli version of Beauty and the Geek. While the American/British opening song is about getting lots of money, the Israeli version is about two people working up the courage to come together from different worlds. Although one of the contestants on the second season was ridiculously stingy for no apparent reason, partially playing straight the All Jews Are Cheapskates trope.
- Voltaire's "Coin-Operated Goi" uses this as its punchline, describing the efforts of a Jew to convert the eponymous goi into "a coin-operated Jew, just like me and you".
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Pretty Fly For a Rabbi" plays with this in its line "the parents pay the mohel and he gets to keep the tip," as it is actually a thinly-veiled circumcision joke.
- The Ur-Example is probably Judas Iscariot from The Four Gospels in The Bible, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, leading to Jesus's arrest and execution. Judas was also the treasurer of Jesus's entourage, but habitually stole from the common purse. Christians have historically used Judas to stereotype all Jews as greedy and evil, ignoring that Jesus and the first Christians themselves were Jewish. The Gospels don't go into much detail over Judas's motivations for betraying Jesus besides apparent desire for money, except the Gospel of John which says "Satan entered him" — which taken literally means Demonic Possession. Thus, several Biblical adaptations have tried to flesh this out by making him a Well-Intentioned Extremist who does it for political reasons — or, more controversially, because Jesus ordered him to.
- Bleak Expectations: Subverted with a disguised Mr. Benevolent in one episode, as a Fagin-impersonation named Abraham Bagel, who talks with a ludicrously exaggerated Jewish accent... only he's meant to be Catholic.
"Bagel": Yes, we're not all money-grubbing Catholics like the books portray.
- Appears in Racial Holy War, because of course it does. The game has the P Cs play as white nationalists on a self-appointed mission to 'take the country back.' Among a kitbash of offensive stereotypes for enemies, the various Jews can bribe the players to skip their turn with no save. So... Greedy White Christians?
- Shylock from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. In an interesting contrast to the way "evil Jews" were generally portrayed in Elizabethan theatre, Shylock is a complex and sympathetic character who's not seeking money, but revenge for insults. The play was bashed at the time for not giving Shylock a Karmic Death, opting instead for a "happier" ending in which Shylock is forcibly converted and his daughter married to a Christian. The debate as to whether Shylock is intended to be a straightforward villainous Jew or a sympathetic portrayal is still raging. Either way, antisemites have used it as propaganda for centuries.
- Christopher Marlowe's The Jew Of Malta plays the trope more straight. Barabas's motivation is also revenge, but for the loss of his wealth. Barabas is a pure villain and receives a Karmic Death. The Christians in the play, however, are no saints either.
- Invoked by the Karl Baumer in Margin for Error, when trying to blackmail Dr. Jennings into giving him more money:
Dr. Jennings: So bribes are taken, even in the Third Reich?
Baumerl: Only by Jews, Doctor.
Dr. Jennings (Sarcastic): Oh there are still Jewish Officials in the Third Reich?
Baumer: Not who admit it. But Berlin realized at once, when they took bribes, that they were Jews, so Berlin purged them.
- The Arab variant shows up◊ in the Qurac level of Metal Slug 2/X. Being Metal Slug, its almost certainly a parody.
- See also Ethnic Cleansing and its sequels ZOG's Nightmare 1 & 2.
- Bruno the loan shark of Mafia II, jewish, with strong ties to the mob, merciless to anyone who doesn't pay in time, and owner of a really big nose.
- Some bullies mock Ferris with this in Fishbones.
- The Onion parodies the trope with this "Today Now!" piece advising viewers to deal with their money-related stress by "visualizing it as a greedy, hooked-nosed race of creatures". Likewise in their article "Local Jew Feels Left Out Of Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy".
- Discussed in Steam Train - Danny (a Jew) believes the trope itself to be stupid, yet gleefully and consciously practices it himself. He doesn't hate the stereotype because he doesn't think Jews are greedy, but because "who doesn't like money?".
- They are (along with other ethnic stereotypes) the villains in the online-released tabletop RPG Racial Holy War. Their special ability is making the players skip a turn by bribing them with 'jewgold', which says a lot worse things about the players themselves than it does about the Jews (making it worse is that the official explanation for how they are able to do this is "Brain Pollution").
- 4chan gave us the infamous "Happy Merchant" meme, which has since made it into the broader Internet and gained currency among the usual suspects: namely, "politically incorrect" trolls and genuine neo-Nazis.
- South Park plays with this trope, especially in the perceptions of the anti-Semitic Eric Cartman.
- In "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow," Cartman claims that all Jews have a bag of gold around their neck and tries to extort Kyle out of his. At first, you think that Cartman is just being his usual crazy, bigoted self, until we discover that Kyle really does have one, as well as a decoy bag that Cartman also anticipates.
- In "The Death Camp of Tolerance," the boys are taken to the Museum of Tolerance where they are shown bigotry in its various forms. Cartman finds the various stereotypes on display to be awesome and immediately beelines for the Jewish stereotype on display, who is depicted as greedily clutching a bag of money (see the picture above).
- Even better considering that it is Cartman who serves as the closest representation of this trope in his actions. At the same time Kyle, while not immune to get rich quick schemes, has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most compassionate of the boys.
- Disney's "The Three Little Pigs" cartoon has the Big Bad Wolf dress up as a stereotypical Jewish peddler and try to con his way into the pigs' house. Later airings of the cartoon re-dub the Wolf's voice to remove the Yiddish accent that he affects.
- Family Guy's Mort Goldman. He has a charity box in his store he takes for himself. Doesn't understand doing sales promotions in his store note . In "Baking Bad" when told that he's donating his blood after believing that he was getting paid for it, he sucks the blood from his IV drip back into his body.
- Similar to South Park and Family Guy, Drawn Together used this a lot for humor such as the greedy Jew Producer which is his actual name. Allegedly they were censored to Armenian noses in the german dub.