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The Story Of My Life

I have spent months advising first time buyers, answering all their questions, sending them materials, reviewing deals that have ultimately failed based on inspection reports. I find out on Monday morning that they made an offer on a new house for which the home inspector gave a favorable review.  The catch is that the sellers insist the buyers sign Contracts before Thursday of this week, even though they were informed that this is a short work week for me due to Passover.  The buyers chose to not stand up and defy the bum’s rush they were being given; instead they informed me they’d have to find a new attorney so they could get into contract on Wednesday. I am being penalized by punitive sellers in a frigging buyers’ market based on my religious observance!

I’ve had this happen before, where I’d made sure that a closing was not contemplated for anywhere near Yom Kippur, only to have a potential  interest rate rise make buyers insist that it close that day (so I had to pay another attorney my fee to cover).  Or where a simple deal could close any time after Labor Day but my client decided to go with another attorney when I advised him in early August that there were three days in September we definitely couldn’t close.  But I’ve always been able to pass it off as no big deal before, choosing to see no discrimination and instead deem it just bad luck.  But this one sticks in my craw a lot, as this (at best) lack of courtesy or (at worst) prejudice may make a difference in my business hanging on for yet another month, or not.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Apr. 7th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
From The Wall Street Journal
Anti-Semitism and the Economic Crisis
Many people still blame Jews for capitalism's faults.
By IRA STOLL

Walking down the street in my solidly upper-middle-class New York City neighborhood the other day was a neatly dressed man angrily cursing into his cell phone about "Jew Wall Street bankers."

I was headed in the opposite direction and didn't stop to interview him about his particular grievances, but the brief encounter crystallized for me a foreboding that the financial crisis may trigger a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.

It is a fear that is being articulated ever more widely. President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, frets on his blog, "History shows how effective demagogic ravings can be when a public is stressed economically." He warns that Jews, along with gays and blacks, could become victims of populist rage.

In the New York Jewish Week newspaper, a column by Rabbi Ronald Price of the Union for Traditional Judaism begins, "In the 1930s, as Germany's economy collapsed, the finger was pointed at the Jews and the Nazis ascended to power. The famous Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jew was falsely accused of treason in France, followed on the heels of economic turmoil."

At this juncture, the trepidation may yet seem like paranoia, or special pleading akin to the old joke about the newspaper headline, "World Ends in Nuclear Attack: Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit." Everyone is feeling the brunt of the recession; why worry about the Jews in particular? After all, Jews today have two refuges: Israel and America, a land where Jews have attained remarkable power and prosperity and have a constitutionally protected right to exercise their religion freely. In that case, why worry about potential danger to the Jews at all?

One answer is that the historical precedents are exceedingly grim. The causes of the First Crusade, in which thousands of Jews were murdered, are still being debated, but some historians link it to famine and a poor harvest in 1095. As for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the foremost historian of its causes, Benzion Netanyahu (the father of Israel's new prime minister), writes of the desire of the persecutors "to get rid of their debts by getting rid of their creditors." More generally, he writes, "it is an iron-clad rule in the history of group relations: the majority's toleration of every minority lessens with the worsening of the majority's condition."

Lest this seem overly crude economic determinism, consider that the Jews have been victims not only of unrest prompted by economic distress but of attempts to remedy such economic distress with socialism. Take it from Friedrich Hayek, the late Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist. In "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek wrote, "In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of Capitalism." Thus, the response in those countries, National Socialism, was an attack on both capitalism and the Jews.

There are ample indicators of current anti-Semitic attitudes. A poll conducted recently in Europe by the Anti-Defamation League found 74% of Spaniards believe Jews "have too much power in international financial markets," while 67% of Hungarians believe Jews "have too much power in the business world." Here in America, the Web site of National Journal is hosting an "expert blog" by former CIA official Michael Scheuer, now a professor at Georgetown, complaining of a "fifth column of pro-Israel U.S. citizens" who are "unquestionably enemies of America's republican experiment." And over at Yahoo! Finance, the message board discussing Goldman Sachs is rife with comments about "Jew pigs" and the "Zionist Federal Reserve."

(Anonymous)
Apr. 7th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: From The Wall Street Journal (finish)
So will the Jews come under attack? The existence of the Jewish state guarantees refuge for Jews around the world, but it carries with it its own risks. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said that if the Jews "all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world-wide." It's a comment all the more chilling as Nasrallah's Iranian sponsors are on the brink of making a nuclear bomb.

As for the idea that Jewish professional, political, and economic success in America is a guarantee of security, that, too, has its risks. As Yuri Sleskine recounted in his book "The Jewish Century," in 1900 Vienna more than half of the lawyers, doctors and professional journalists were Jewish, as were 70% of the members of the stock exchange. In Germany, after World War I but before the Nazis came to power, Jews served as finance minister and as foreign minister. Such achievements have a way of being fleeting.

It may yet be that the Jews escape the current economic crisis having only lost fortunes. But if not, there will have been no lack of warning about the threat. When Jews gather Wednesday night for the Passover Seder, we will recite the words from the Hagadah, the book that relays the Israelite exodus from slavery in Egypt: "In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us." This year, they will resonate all the more ominously.
real_lawyer
Apr. 8th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
Re: From The Wall Street Journal (finish)
This is chilling: my daughter sent me this earlier today.

While I don't think the [perhaps] discrimination I experienced rises to this level, all of us in every so-called "minority" must be vigilant in times when anger masks common sense.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 7th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
It sounds to me unlikely that these were clients whom you have represented previously. I cannot think of anyone with whom you have worked, who would go about "looking for another attorney" to represent them, especially on such short notice. I hope they did not find themselves gaining a house and losing on those things at which you are unequaled among your peers.
real_lawyer
Apr. 8th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much.

No, I have never actually represented them, as they are first time buyers. But I've represented a few family members, one of who wrote me how disturbed she was that i was no longer looking out for them.

Something smells rotten about the rush to contract, but as my nose has not been retained by them, I can do no more.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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