March 29, 2008

A General Theory of the Afghan Ammo swindle

The AEY Afghan ammo scandal has raised many questions around the blogs about who or what is behind it all. But I think the answer isn't all that mysterious.

Have you ever tried to buy a camera from the ads in the back pages of a camera magazine? There are pages and pages in tiny type offering better deals than you could get from any local store. A friend bought a camera from one once, and it turned out to be a horrible experience. The package showed up very late, was missing essential pieces, and when he called to complain the customer service rep acted hostile and tried to sell him more stuff he didn't want rather than fix his problem. The representatives of the camera shop became highly abusive over the phone.

I asked him what city the shop was located in? Brooklyn.

And what time do they close business on Friday? 2 pm.

Well, there you go ...

There are a whole bunch of Hasidic-run photography dealers in New York City. Some of them, such as B&H (which is jokingly said to stand for "Beards & Hats"), are quite honest and have done very well for themselves over the years.

On a bulletin board on, customer Steve Levine says:

"Interestingly, B&H was the first "Hasidic" owned camera store that decided to treat customers like human beings. In the pre-B&H days, all of the NYC camera stores were nearly impossible to deal with."

Many of them still practice bait-and-switch and other simple con techniques. They hook you in with too-good-to-be-true advertised prices, then proceed to make your life a nightmare as you try to get them to live up to their promises and they try to badger you into buying even more junk. Here, for example, is a voice mail from a customer service rep at one of these firms: "I'm going to break your neck."

When their reputations get too bad, they simply switch to another name and carry on.

Efraim Diveroli's uncle's gun shop in LA, Botach Tactical, is very similar to the NY camera stores of ill-memory. It lowballs prices in its ads, then, when it has got you hooked, proceeds to abuse you. Maybe it has a couple of the items on hand, but if you aren't the first to call in, it puts your order in a queue until it sees if it can negotiate a deal with the manufacturer. You might get your ammo eight months later. In summary, you get what you pay for.

So, Diveroli was just applying the family/ethnic tradition to federal contracts. You put in a low bid, assisted by Diveroli's AEY, Inc. certification as owned by a disadvantaged minority (Hasidic, although Diveroli sounds like a Roman Jewish name -- i.e., not Ashkenazi, which the Hasidim are -- but Diveroli's celebrity uncle Shmuley Boteach was ordained as a Lubavitcher Hasidic rabbi, although he has since broken with them) for affirmative action purposes. If the feds bite on the bait, well, you hustle like hell to come up with something that will make it so that the feds will be more willing to accept the crap you foist on them than dealing with you and your lawyers.

Why the Hasidim?

First, there is the "in-group morality." Some Muslim in Afghanistan loses an eye because his bullet explodes in his gun? Eh ... The taxpayers of America have to shell out more to make up the loss? Eh ...

Second, there is the simple psychological ability to not be distressed about other people's anger, whether justifiable or not. Most people become uncomfortable when people around them become angry and they try to mollify the angry person. (The Japanese are among the world leaders at feeling psychic pain when people around them aren't content.) In contrast, the kind of people who flourish in these kind of bait and switch businesses don't mind other people getting angry at them. They just get angry right back, angrier even. It's fun.

My cocktail party theory of the origins of this stems from Robert Heinlein's famous phrase, "An armed society is a polite society." In most of medieval Europe, you didn't want to get into screaming arguments with acquaintances because they might pull out a sword and run you through. Well, medieval ghettos were largely disarmed, so the verbally hostile weren't excused from the culture and gene pool.

So, the bottom line is that anybody sensible would be cautious before buying from Hasidic-owned businesses that don't specifically have a good reputation, like B&H. Take that super-duper quoted price and add a percentage to account for all the hassles you are letting yourself in for.

But, of course, nobody is supposed to think like that. The media won't print that kind of advice. And the poor federal government isn't supposed to treat Hasidim skeptically, they're officially supposed to bend over backwards for them and treat them like a legally privileged minority!

Update: Of course, in neither of Efraim's two mugshots is he wearing a beard or a hat, so I guess he's Hasidic for federal contracting purposes, but a wild and crazy guy for the ladies.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Oh, the ADL is going to jump down your throat for that blog post.

Anonymous said...

But, of course, nobody is supposed to think like that. The media won't print that kind of advice. And the poor federal government isn't supposed to treat Hasidim skeptically, they're supposed to bend over backwards for them!


You got it all wrong. You should have left out one word and written:

And the poor federal government isn't supposed to treat Hasidim skeptically, they're supposed to bend over for them!


Anonymous said...

These guys are also probably connected. Lots of relatives and appetite for risk that reputable brokers would not touch.

Let's face it, the task -- get all that ammo and many different types (52 IIRC) was impossible from the start. In a global ammo shortage and dealing with Afghans most reputable dealers would have said no, or given a "European" answer which was let's push out orders to spec in Eastern Europe, for newly manufactured ammo (and gotten a big fat piece of the pie for overseeing the specs).

The Botach family probably has contacts all over the place which made them useful. I suspect there may have been other agendas at work as well. Like finding out just what was out there. What the Botach family could harness, so could others working for hostile forces.

If you traced back to who/what they talked to, you'd have a good idea of how ammo supplies could be moved around in Europe and elsewhere. You could watch it move and use that movement to predict attempted coups or other troubles.

Like say, Kosovo or Tunisia. Just putting that out there.

Anonymous said...

You are throwing around the word Hassidic inaccurately. Hassids are Orthodox Jews and their origins are Russian-Polish

I don't see how any Iranian Jews and Syrian Jews are Hassidim. They have different Orthodox traditions when they go Orthodox

You would think the Federal Government and SBA would be transparent enough to tell you who qualifies for minority preferences. Maybe you can get a list from the SBA

Anonymous said...

they also (in no particular order)
a. get their homes declared temples and pay no property tax
b. have jewish only 'public' housing and school districts - at tax payer expense
c. have ambulances that will only help jews (see crown heights riots where they left a black girl to die and whisked away their kin who had minor scratches after hitting the girl)
d. use said ambulances and fake ambulances to skate through traffic.
e. Are some of the worst slum lords in the city and frequently 'block bust' neighborhoods.
f. even the 'honest' ones like b&h that you mentioned are rude

I live in New York and I can say without hesitation they are universally despised, especially by minority immigrants who haven't learned that its 'anti semitic' to think so, most secular Jews also despise them.

In this case its 100% justified they are rotten, rotten people

Anonymous said...

never never never do business with them period. They will cheat you if they can. Even the 'honest' ones.

Anonymous said...

Was ordained by Menachem Schearson the very famous Lubovitcher (Hassidic) rabbi. By Shmuley has since been sort of drummed out of the sect and is an orthodox freelancer

Shmuley would be an anomaly. Someone of Iranian Jewish background joining the Hasidim which are Russian-Polish origin. But he made the effort but it just doesn't happen much

I don't see how anyone else in the Boteach and Diveroli families are Hassidic. Orthodox perhaps but not Hassidic

Anonymous said...

This can't be right, Steve, because there is no genetic basis for personality traits, and, even if there were, there is no such thing as group differences.

I am being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

a. get their homes declared temples and pay no property tax
b. have jewish only 'public' housing and school districts - at tax payer expense

BS. A few Hassids might get homes declared temples though I've never heard of it. It is very sloppy to imply that you are Hassidic, you get your home declared a temple, and you pay no property taxes. Why don't you elaborate

When I was in NYC 20 years ago I walked through Chinatown. There were tall apartment blocks that were all Chinese and subsidized. Typically for elderly. In Boston I saw a subsidized apartment building that was all Italian elderly because it was put up as a joint venture of the Feds and a Catholic agency. I saw a Chinese one too in Boston about the same size. A joint venture of the Feds and (probably) the Boston Chinese Benevolent Society. The Hassidic public housing you are referring too is probably something similar

Anonymous said...

I live in Orange County, NY and there is a huge community (village of Kiryas Joel in the town of Monroe) of Hasidim. The local newspaper had an article a while back about the village and the problems it was causing with the neighbors.

It said a lot of the men get bused into Manhattan to work at B&H. But they get welfare because they have 9 or 10 kids in every family.

I can't tell you how much it pisses me off to have to subsidize someone else's family formation with my $1000/month property taxes.

We're a nation of idiots...

Unknown said...

I wonder if there is subsidized housing for WASPs only somewhere?

Anonymous said...

If Sailer's theory about Hassidic Jews is right, it should be borne out by statistics, not just anecdotes. Do they have higher conviction rates for fraud and other related crimes than other ethnic groups, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Not sure about statistics, but a quick google search of hasidic fraud certainly turns up a lot.

They seem to be very adept at defrauding the government.

I wonder how much else is out there that hasn't been uncovered yet.

Anonymous said...


Efraim Diveroli is set to inherit a couple million when his grandfather Yoav Botach dies. Right? The five million he had in a bank account might have actually been legit.

Yoav Botach appears to have had five children:
which we can infer from the introduction to Shmuely's book. Shmuely had nine children, The Diveroli branch had five children. 700 million split to roughly 30-40 grandchildren is still a lot

Efraim Diveroli's ancestry: one grandfather from Italy, one grandfather from Iran, one grandmother from Poland and one grandmother from ?

Anonymous said...

I was in B&H's superstore on Ninth Avenue a few weeks ago for the first time in a couple years and was quite surprised at the changing ethnic makeup of the workforce. It used to be essentially 100% Hasidim. Not anymore. While all of the salesmen were Hasidic, most of the cashiers and order fillers - of whom at least 50 were visible - were outsiders, mostly blacks and Hispanics.

J said...

There is nothing mysterious about becoming a Hassidic Jew. First you should live in the neighborhood, then you tentatively go to pray to the nearest synagogue, and if you like the way they pray you come daily (maybe the early morning or the evening prayer) and soon people will talk to you and you "buy" a seat for special prayers, you and your wife go (separately) to the communal mikve (ritual bath) and your children go to the communal school, and in no time you are immersed in the community life, and develope violent antipathy towards the next-door community whose rabbi interprets so wrongly the Law, not like your saintly Rebbe. No conversion, no admission exams, nothing formal. There is much horizontal movement among the different communities.

Anonymous said...

to the anon who said its' bs::,_New_York

You have any idea what' you're talking about? No no all or by law, but many hassids do this - they claim their home is a synagogue and exempt

they have their own school district, thanks to the NY state legislature.

Anyone else remember the clinton scandal with the hassids -they released some of their fraudsters and the entire town voted for hillary .

Steve: the scamming also includes:
insurance (why brooklyn has such high rates and insurance companies can't red line ) , medicaid/medicare welfare..the list goes on, these people have ZERO conscious when it comes to stuff like this as I tried to explain to a friend - they would steal from you as easily as they would pick an apple from a you think you're 'stealing' from the tree? That is how they look at goyim...

As Burton said "gentiles have no more rights than fauna in the field"

TGGP said...

Anonymous #3 is right about contracting. You can always stiff the government and it's practically encouraged to promise what can't be delivered. See the Vanity Fair article on the biggest contractor you've never heard of.

mnuez said...

It would be so wonderful if the millions of geniuses who sign on as "Anonymous" would pick some sort of name. My battery's is going out here so I'll just make two quick points:

1. I'm not learned enough in the statistics of the matter to say whether or how many of the criticisms are warranted. I'll say "could be" for anything and withhold judgment until I see stats.

2. One particular accusation (by a Mr. Anonymous of course) is bullshit and libelous. The "Jewish ambulances" (Hatzalah, by the way) do not care only for Jews and leave gentiles to die. That's slander of the absolute worst sort and beyond words in its disgustingness. For someone here - of all places - to take the Crown Heights incident so out of context boggles the mind.


P.S. i just posted a response-comment at the tail-end of an aged comment-thread here . Might be of interest to some a'y'all.

Anonymous said...

These guys are a clown show Steve. The more you dig up on them, the more I think the Clown Show was on purpose.

Suppose you wanted to dig up connections in arms trading that might point to either a build up of arms or some kind of putsch, coup, or what have you. Lots of regimes are unstable, with ambitious young officers. Better to nip that in the bud or encourage it based on the US interests. Places like: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Albania, etc.

The ammo need was legit. Send a few bright, colorful clowns to act as "dye" and see what connections they turn up in their natural effort to bring junk and pass it off as gold. Watch the people they turn up, particularly banking and travels and meetings.

I keep thinking anything serious would have been government to government. Probably Egypt or some other friendly Arab country has excess 7.62X39 ammunition manufacturing capacity. But this clown show ... would anyone expect anything from these guys?

Of course if it was a giant "dye job" to mark interesting people you'd never see it confirmed.

The other explanation is sheer incompetence mixed with connections. Don't rule that out. I've seen it in action.

michael farris said...

The less-than-edifyig business practices come, I think, from the big extended family model of ethics. If it helps your group it's okay. Other people (especially ones you're never likely to meet in person) get the same amount of consideration as a rock.

And Heinlein had it wrong as well. An armed society is only polite if you don't know who's armed or likely to be. (or if there's a small visibly armed and socially powerful subset so you're nice to everybody to stay in practice). A heavily armed soceity where everybody's packing heat is usually going to be a gang society (like Somalia).

Finally, the yelling as a form of communication and indifference to outsiders' anger comes partly from the extended family model and partly from minority status.

Life as part of a highly visible and generally unpopular minority is not always fun or easy.

Therefore a big part of the culture of such groups involves toughening up younger members and keeping older members in fighting trim.
Humor tends toward the rough and merciless.
There's some room for softheardedness and compassion with insiders but none for outsiders - especially those from the majority, that way ruin and disappearance of the group lies.

Anonymous said...,_New_York

You have any idea what' you're talking about? No no all or by law, but many hassids do this - they claim their home is a synagogue and exempt

In that Wikipedia entry I see ZERO mention of Hassidic homes becoming tax exempt due to being declared synagogues

You need to do a lot better than that

Anonymous said...

Re the dye job theory. The problem emerged because the ammo was actually reaching Afghanistan and US officers there were sending complaints back.

ziel said...

Here's an article from the Scranton, PA Times-Tribune on an impending purchase of a closed elementary school in Scranton by the Hasidic Navordna sect in that town, which would lead to the relocation of 1,000 families. Seems like a reasonable article from a local paper on an issue of great importance to the community, no?

Well, none other than the Columbia Journalism Review saw fit to attack its journalistic standards for fostering xenophobia, in particular for the crime of allowing regular people to relate their own experiences.

Astoundingly, the Times-Tribue article opens with this: The Hasidic Nadvorna sect is in many ways a mystery to the outside world. And it appears there are some among the group who would just as soon keep it that way — for now. Interest in the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Orthodox Jewish sect has run high ever since it submitted a bid of $400,000 for the East Scranton Intermediate School and said it would bring as many as 1,000 families into the city. But efforts to learn more about the sect, and its specific plans, for the most part have been fruitless. Rabbi Alter Rosenbaum and others identified as leaders of the sect have not responded to repeated requests for interviews.

While the CJR article closes with this: What is defective about these pieces is their lack of curiosity, the absence of any attempt to push the boundaries of previous knowledge, to get their readers to understand something deeper about their potential new neighbors. Instead the Times-Tribune reflects a laziness of spirit. The paper could have opened a world, but instead it kept the known one closed.

Christopher said...

Let me get this straight: there's a tight-knit merchant minority traditional group that, in contrast to contemporary US mores, encourages its young men to seek their fortunes in sole proprietership, partnership, or small business form, and some of those young men, in an early foray, went astray, spectacularly so.

I'm looking at those mugshots and thinking, man, I wasted my 20's! It's like that goof on Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker:

Darth Vader: Yes, it is true.. and you know what else? You know that brass droid of yours?
Luke: Threepio?
Darth Vader: Yes... Threepio... I built him... when I was 7 years old...
Luke: No...
Darth Vader: Seven years old! And what have you done? Look at yourself, no hand, no job, and couldn't even levitate your own ship out of the swamp Dagobar...
Luke: I destroyed your precious Death Star!
Darth Vader: When you were 20! When I was 10, I single-handedly destroyed a Trade Federation Droid Control ship!
Luke: Well, it's not my fault...
Darth Vader: Oh, here we go... "Poor me... my father never gave me what I wanted for my birthday... boo hoo, my daddy's the Dark Lord of the Sith...waahhh wahhh!"
Luke: Shut up...
Darth Vader: You're a slacker! By the time I was your age, I had exterminated the Jedi knights!
Luke: I used to race my T-16 through Beggar's Canyon...
Darth Vader: Oh, for the love of the Emperor... 10 years old, winner of the Boonta Eve Open... Only human to ever fly a Pod Racer... right here baby!

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the dishonesty of the non-B&H camera shops. I fell for one about two years ago. They did bait-and-switch and I politely said it wasn't what I wanted so cancel my (internet) order. The reply of the guy on the phone? "WE DO NOT CANCEL ORDERS, ARE YOU TRYING TO F*** US OVER?" "But it's my money, we haven't exchanged a thing, and I would simply like to cancel my order at this time." This Jew wouldn't do it! He let loose with a stream of profanities that would have shocked even my mother. Lost $5,000.

There are no rational reasons for anti-Semitism. Jews are bright, funny, compassionate people... There are no rational reasons for anti-Semitism. Jews are bright, funny, compassionate people...Keep repeating it, keep repeating it...

Anonymous said...

I object to the anti-semitism here. The hasidim are not all bad people "genetically" speaking; I have (fortuitously) known quite a few young hasidim who have (more or less) rebelled against the cult (religion appears to become harder to take seriously for each passing generation in liberalized nations - this is not just a christian phenomenon), and they are some of the best people I know.

Anonymous said...

Your theory sounds just about right. And your on this topic have been great reads!

Anonymous said...

anonymous 3/29/2008

Sounds like evil neocon again. As if modern spy agencies like MI6, BND, FSB or the French need a corrupt family to know how ammo is shipped all over the world?
I purposely left out the CIA...Your post sounds like more mindless shilling for certain friends again.

Anonymous said...

A heavily armed soceity where everybody's packing heat is usually going to be a gang society (like Somalia).

Early America was a well-armed society. It wasn't Somalia.