Anti-Jewish commentary is flooding the Internet in the wake of Bernard Madoff's arrest on charges of masterminding one of the biggest Wall Street frauds in history, campaigners said Friday.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said there had been "an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites."
Madoff, 70, is Jewish and a prominent member of the powerful US Jewish community. He is alleged to have defrauded investors, including a number of Jewish-related charities, of some 50 billion dollars.
"Site users have posted comments ranging from deeply offensive stereotypical statements about Jews and money -- with some suggesting that only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale -- to conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel," the ADL said in a statement.
"Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites," said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.
"Nowadays, the first place Jew-haters will go is to the Internet, where they can give voice to their hateful ideas without fear of repercussions."
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