In 1972, Milton Friedman gave a presidential lecture before the Mont Pèlerin Society titled “Capitalism and the Jews.” The lecture was subsequently published as an essay in the 1980s. This article focuses on Fried-man’s public interventions on the theme of capitalism and the Jews from the 1960s to the 1980s. We take a different perspectives from Jeff Lipkes’s recent paper on the topic, published in this journal. While Lipkes examines the internal content of Friedman’s arguments and their historical rectitude, we argue that “Capitalism and the Jews” shall not be read as a scholarly contribution to Jewish economic history. Flirting with stereotypes, Friedman was not looking to be theoretically sound and correct, but to persuade his audiences of the virtues of the free market. We therefore argue that “Capitalism and the Jews” has to be read within the surrounding political and polemical context of its writing and publication. Our article contributes to recent scholarship on the history of the complex relationships between conservatism and free-market ideas. It also provides a case study in the history of economic thought on discrimination and minorities.

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