Michael Rubens Bloomberg * was born on February 14, 1942, in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, MA, the son of William Henry and Charlotte (Rubens) Bloomberg. He grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in Medford. When he was 12, he became one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in history.
To help pay his way through Johns Hopkins University, he worked in a parking lot and took out government loans. His father, a bookkeeper at a local dairy, died when he was in college and his mother worked as a secretary.
He graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1966 he graduated from Harvard Business School with a Master of Business Administration. Bloomberg later served as chair of the Hopkins board of trustees from 1996 to 2002.
He began his career at the securities brokerage Salomon Brothers and became a partner in 1973. In 1981, Salomon Brothers was bought by Phibro Corporation and Bloomberg was laid off from the investment bank. He was given no severance package but owned $10 million worth of equity as a partner at the firm.
Using this money, Bloomberg went on to set up a company named Innovative Market Systems. His business plan was based on the realization that Wall Street (and the financial community generally) was willing to pay for high-quality business information, delivered as quickly as possible and in as many usable forms possible, via technology. (e.g., graphs of highly specific trends).
In 1982, Merrill Lynch became the new company’s first customer, installing 22 of the company’s Market Master terminals, which provide financial data, and investing $30 million in the company. The company revolutionized the distribution of financial information and made him a billionaire. In 1987, it was renamed Bloomberg L.P. Over the years, ancillary products including Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message, and Bloomberg Tradebook were launched. His company also owns a radio network.
He left the company to run for mayor in 2001. Bloomberg served as the 108th mayor of New York City, holding office for three consecutive terms, beginning his first in 2002. A lifelong Democrat before seeking elective office, Bloomberg switched his party registration in 2001 to run for mayor as a Republican. He defeated opponent Mark J. Green in a close election held just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He won a second term in 2005 and left the Republican Party two years later. Bloomberg campaigned to change the city’s term limits law to allow him to run for a third term as mayor, arguing that he had the financial acumen needed to help the city through the difficult economic climate. The idea was controversial but was adopted in 2008. He subsequently spent approximately $90 million of his own money on the campaign and was elected to his third term in 2009 as an independent, serving until December 31, 2013.
After a brief stint as a full-time philanthropist, Bloomberg re-assumed the position of CEO at Bloomberg L.P. by the end of 2014. He has remained active in philanthropy with a passion for combating climate change, gun violence and tobacco use, and promoting public health, the arts, and government innovation. He has also been a major donor to education. In 2018, Johns Hopkins announced a $1.8 billion gift from Bloomberg, the largest private donation in modern history to an institution of higher education, which brought Bloomberg’s total contribution to the school to more than $3.3 billion.
Though most of his giving has been to non-Jewish organizations, he has donated money to redesign his childhood synagogue in Medford, to build a Magen David Adom facility named after his father, to build a wing of Hadassah Hospital in Israel named after his mother and to a project to promote innovation in Israeli cities.
In 2014, he was awarded the first Genesis Prize. He donated the $1 million he received for a global competition with 10 prizes of $100,000 available to entrepreneurs ages 20 to 36 with ideas to better the world based on Jewish values.
“I wanted to pay it forward, so to speak,” Bloomberg said. “To help others with the same sense of optimism and obligation, which is such an important part of Jewish tradition.”
Ron Kampeas notes that Bloomberg enjoyed significant Jewish support when he ran for mayor and has the liberal credentials that appeal to many Jewish voters. Unlike Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish but highly critical of Israel, Bloomberg has a record of supporting Israel with both his time and money. During the 2014 Gaza War, Bloomberg defied a Federal Aviation Authority ban on flying into Israel after rockets landed near Ben-Gurion Airport. “In my own little way, I wanted to show the world that Jews would never let fear of terrorism keep us out of Israel,” Bloomberg said later.
As mayor, Bloomberg also played a key role in the creation of a Cornell University-Technion-Israel Institute of Technology high-tech research campus on Roosevelt Island. Bloomberg donated $100 million to the project.
Bloomberg was seen as a possible presidential candidate but chose not to run in 2016. Instead, he contributed tens of millions of dollars to return the House and Senate to Democratic control.
In 1975, Bloomberg married Susan Elizabeth Barbara Brown; they were divorced in 1993. Since 2000, Bloomberg has lived with former New York state banking superintendent Diana Taylor. He has two daughters, Emma and Georgina.
As of November 2019, he was ranked as the 8th-richest person in the United States, with an estimated net worth of $54.1 billion.
Although he attended Hebrew school, had a Bar Mitzvah, and his family kept a kosher kitchen, Bloomberg today is relatively secular, attending synagogue mainly during the High Holidays. Neither of his daughters were raised Jewish. As mayor, Bloomberg travelled to Israel in 2007.
Bloomberg published an autobiography, Bloomberg on Bloomberg, in 1997. Later, he co-authored “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet.”
Bloomberg has won numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II made Bloomberg an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his “prodigious entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors, and the many ways in which they have benefited the United Kingdom and the U.K.-U.S. special relationship.” In 2014, he won the first $1 million Genesis Prize, which he pledged to give away to charity.
In October 2018, Bloomberg changed his political party affiliation back to the Democrats. After first saying he would not run, he announced on November 24, 2019, that he was seeking that party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election after deciding the declared candidates could not defeat Donald Trump. Bloomberg skipped the first four primaries and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into states holding primaries on Super Tuesday. Joe Biden won a convincing victory in South Carolina and then exceeded expectations on Super Tuesday to regain his earlier status as front-runner while Bloomberg won only the caucus in American Samoa and fared poorly in most other states. The following day he announced he was suspending his campaign and throwing his support to Biden.
“I promise to always oppose the BDS movement’s pernicious efforts to delegitimize and punish the State of Israel, as I always have.” (AIPAC Policy Conference, March 22, 2020)
“I strongly oppose the BDS movement. And I vehemently disagree with everyone who fails to see why the Jewish people deserve a permanent Jewish state.”
“As president, I will always call out anti-Semitism, no matter which side of the aisle it’s coming from.”
“The best way to combat the rise in anti-Semitism we’ve seen under President Trump is with a president who brings people together instead of tearing them apart. That’s exactly what I will do. I will speak out against anti-Semitism on the right and on the left. I will speak out against it whether it shows up on the floor of Congress — or on campus quads.”
“I will label hate crimes as “domestic terrorism” — and charge perpetrators accordingly.”
“I will launch a national, coordinated effort, led by the FBI director and Department of Justice, to crack down on violent extremists.” (JTA, February 11, 2020)
“Mike has long opposed the B.D.S. movement, which undermines one of our most important allies and the only democracy in the Middle East. He is a vigorous defender of free speech. He has supported the right of B.D.S. members to speak on college campuses. But he believes government funds should not be used to support the B.D.S. movement, which is antithetical to our foreign policy, our national security and our democratic values.” (New York Times, December 2019)
Bloomberg has called the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel “an outrage” that is “totally misplaced.” (Forward, November 8, 2019)
“Unfortunately, not all of my fellow Democrats in this race have attended an AIPAC conference. One of them, Senator Sanders, has spent 30 years boycotting this event. And as you’ve heard by now, he called AIPAC a racist platform. Well let me tell you, he’s dead wrong.”
Referring to Sanders’ criticism of AIPAC, Bloomberg said, “Calling it a racist platform is an attempt to discredit those voices, intimidate people from coming here, and weaken the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“I will never impose conditions on military aid, no matter what government is in power,” he said, pointing out that Israel “is on the front lines, countering American enemies in the region and sharing valuable intelligence and experience” with the U.S. “So conditioning foreign aid wouldn’t only impair Israel’s ability to keep itself safe, but our ability to keep ourselves safe as well.”
“Israel should never be a football that American politicians kick around in an effort to score points.”
“I will stand up to efforts to hold Israel to a double standard at the United Nations.”
“Let me be clear, our commitment to Israel must never sunset.” (AIPAC Policy Conference, March 2, 2020)
“To characterize AIPAC as a racist platform is offensive, divisive, and dangerous to Israel — America’s most important ally in the Middle East — and to Jews. How can Bernie profess he’s the path to unity when he’s already managed to polarize a people and a party?” (@MikeBloomberg, February 25, 2020)
“Well, the battle has been going on for a long time in the Middle East, whether it’s the Arabs versus the Persians, the Shias versus the Sunnis, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, it’s only gone on for 40 or 50 years.
Number one, you can’t move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government. But it was done, and you’re going to have to leave it there.
Number two, only solution here is a two-state solution. The Palestinians have to be accommodated. The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both who think God gave them the same piece of land. And the answer is to obviously split it up, leave the Israeli borders where they are, try to push them to pull back some of those extra over the -- on the other side of the wall, where they’ve built these new communities, which they should not have done that, pull it back.” (Democratic Debate, February 25, 2020)
“Israel is the closest and most reliable U.S. ally in the Middle East. And I believe guaranteeing the survival of a democratic, Jewish state in the Holy Land is a solemn obligation of the United States, as it has been for more than half a century. That doesn’t mean an Israeli government is above criticism. And I am quick to tell them when I believe they’ve done something wrong.”
“That said, there’s a difference between objecting to specific policies of Israel’s government and attempting to delegitimize Israel altogether — as some on the left have done. When I have differences with Israeli policies, I will work directly with the Israeli government to address my concerns. I will do so in a manner that befits the close relationship between our countries.”
“We must never let Israel be a football that American politicians kick around in an effort to score points.”
“The relationship between our two countries has been so strong because it transcends partisan politics here and in Israel. And it is built on our shared values: freedom and democracy, law and justice, integrity and compassion.”
“Our best hope for enduring peace is an agreement that has as its foundation two states — one Jewish and one Palestinian. That, I believe, is the best way for Israel to remain a prosperous, secure and stable Jewish democracy; and for Palestinians to be provided with the justice, democracy and opportunity they deserve.”
“But any viable plan requires buy-in from both sides, and over the past three years, the president has done nothing but hurt the U.S.’s position as an effective broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As this process unfolds, it is critical that neither party take unilateral steps that could trigger instability and violence.”
“The Palestinian people need leaders who prioritize basic services, human rights and economic opportunity; and they need to put an end to all incitement and terrorism — particularly the indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel emanating from Gaza. And Israeli leadership must avoid preemptive actions until they reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian people.”
“I support continued international assistance to help the Palestinian Authority improve technology, infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship for law-abiding citizens.”
“Our nation’s commitment to Israel’s security, prosperity and democracy is based on shared values, not just common interests. And as president, I will ensure that commitment remains unshakable.” (JTA, February 11, 2020)
Following the release of the Trump administration’s peace plan, Bloomberg said “a negotiated two-state solution is crucial to Israel’s and the Palestinian’s security well-being and it is good that President Trump’s plan affirms that.” He criticized the administration for not getting any Palestinian “buy-in” and warned that “it is critical that neither side take any unilateral steps that could trigger instability and violence.” (Haaretz, January 30, 2020)
“There are those who will cite the embassy move [to Jerusalem] as a reason to support the president. And to that I say very clearly: If I am elected you will never have to choose between supporting Israel and supporting our values here at home.”
“As president, I will always have Israel’s back. I will never impose conditions on our military aid, including missile defense – no matter who is prime minister,” Bloomberg pledged. “And I will never walk away from our commitment to guarantee Israel’s security.”
Bloomberg criticized Trump for “trying to use Israel as a wedge issue for his own electoral purposes. That, to me, is a disgrace. We must never let Israel be a football that American politicians kick around in an effort to score points.”
“I will not wait three years to release an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.” (JewishInsider, January 26, 2020)
“Israel is the closest and most reliable U.S. ally in the Middle East, as it has been for more than half a century. Our diplomatic, military and intelligence agencies work closely with their Israeli counterparts to promote the security of both countries. I believe that America’s ability to defend its interests in the Middle East depends on Israel. Guaranteeing the survival of a democratic, Jewish state in the Holy Land has been a solemn obligation of the United States for 70 years. Our commitment to Israel’s security, prosperity and democracy is based on shared values, not just common interests — and I will ensure that commitment remains unshakeable.
At the same time, any enduring peace must have as its foundation two states for two peoples — one Jewish and one Palestinian. Reaching such a resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians is the best way for Israel to remain a prosperous, secure and stable Jewish democracy. The issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank will have to be part of any eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Until they reach that agreement, both sides should avoid unilateral preemptive actions that make peace less likely. But my bedrock commitment would be that any two-state solution ensures Israel’s security.
I believe that the U.S. must continue to stand for a durable resolution to the conflict that provides justice, democracy and opportunity to the Palestinians. But the U.S. cannot want peace more than the parties themselves. The Palestinian people deserve leadership that prioritizes basic services, sanitation and economic opportunity. Terrorist attacks against Israel emanating from Gaza are appalling and not in the interests of the majority of Gazans, who are enduring a humanitarian crisis. In the meantime, I support continued international assistance to help the Palestinian Authority improve technology, infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship for law-abiding citizens.” (Council on Foreign Relations, January 23, 2020)
The New York Times asked each candidate a series of questions related to Israel. Bloomberg said the United States maintain its current level of military aid to Israel, should not move the U.S. embassy from Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees and their descendants should not be allowed to return to Israel. He supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that includes West Bank land as demarcated by pre-1967 borders and said “Intense negotiations by the parties offer the best chance for success. The U.S. has an important role to play in fostering these discussions.” (New York Times, December 2019)
“Every country has a right to defend its borders from enemies, and Israel was entirely justified in crossing into Gaza to destroy the tunnels and rockets that threaten its sovereignty,” he wrote in a Bloomberg News op-ed. “I know what I would want my government to do if the U.S. was attacked by a rocket from above or via a tunnel from below; I think most Americans do, too.” (Forward, November 8, 2019)
“If they do have a new government in Israel, I think what they should do — and it is not my business to run their government — but I think what they should do is sit down and try to go with little steps in that direction [two-state solution].”
“Because if you constantly have tension, everybody is going to lose. Some day both sides will be on the wrong side of a transactions, or a war in this case. The world cannot and will not tolerate people suffering and being left out. We all have a reason to help.”
“History is what it is when you have two groups who both believe God gave them the same piece of land, it is never going to work out. Winston Churchill once said that ‘jaw-jaw is better than war-war’ meaning that it is better to talk than not.”
“My personal opinion is that you have to have a two-state solution because of the fact that both sides think God gave them the same piece of land. You have got to split the piece of land and each will have half of it. You have half a cake. It’s better than no cake. And it can bring peace. So, your people and my people and his people and her people can have a better life.” (Arab News, September 25, 2019)
Bloomberg said he opposed the nuclear deal because it didn’t address Israel’s security needs, but said he opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal “because doing so was tantamount to giving Iran permission to relaunch its nuclear program. And after years of compliance, Iran is once again marching toward the development of a nuclear weapon.” (JewishInsider, January 26, 2020)
“The United States will not allow Iran to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. I was initially against the Iran deal, but it was a mistake for President Trump to unilaterally walk away from it. While the agreement was not perfect — it did not address Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and it gave the regime political cover to step up its aggression in the region — the U.S. had an obligation to keep its word once the agreement was in place. The U.S. withdrawal has allowed Iran to abandon its own obligations under the deal, and has left the world with few tools to stop it.
The first thing to do is reestablish the coalition that realized the danger of Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon. Collective pressure will be needed to change Iran’s behavior. This should be the starting point for the use of diplomacy. We should also be prepared to employ the leverage that sanctions have provided.
Next, Iran must come back into compliance with the JCPOA requirements. That will require addressing the advances it is likely to make between now and next year—advances that could shrink its breakout time. After rejoining, in order for any new arrangement to be sustainable, we must also be ready to address other inadequacies in the deal, which include the need to extend fast-approaching sunset clauses, curtail Iran’s ballistic missiles, end its destabilizing regional activities and institute more intrusive monitoring.” (Council on Foreign Relations, January 23, 2020)
A spokesperson told the JTA: “Mike was initially against the Iran deal but thinks it was a mistake for President Trump to unilaterally walk away from it.”
“While the agreement was not perfect — it did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, and it gave the regime political cover to step up its aggression in the region — the U.S. had an obligation to keep its word once the agreement was in place. The U.S. withdrawal has allowed Iran to abandon its own obligations under the deal and has left the world with few tools to stop it.”
“The first thing to do is reestablish the coalition that realized the danger of Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon. Collective pressure will be needed to change Iran’s behavior. This should be the starting point for the use of diplomacy. We should also be prepared to employ the leverage that sanctions have provided.”
“Next, Iran must come back into compliance with the JCPOA requirements. That will require addressing the advances it is likely to make between now and next year — advances that could shrink its breakout time. After rejoining, in order for any new arrangement to be sustainable, we must also be ready to address other inadequacies in the deal, which include the need to extend fast-approaching sunset clauses, curtail Iran’s ballistic missiles, end its destabilizing regional activities and institute more intrusive monitoring.” (JTA, January 22, 2020)
- “Bloomberg thinks that maybe ‘an emergency phone’ line should be installed so that Iranian and American officials can easily get in touch, like the red teletype hotline that connected the Pentagon with the Kremlin after the Cuban missile crisis. This, he hopes, could avoid misunderstandings that might lead to full-scale war.”
Referring to killing Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, “Nobody should feel sorry for the guy that was killed. He was a bad guy who killed a lot of Americans. Two presidents before President Trump looked at the opportunity to kill the guy and decided not to. … We don't know what the intelligence is or was, and that will come out eventually. … The problem, to me, is that we have a president who tends to make decisions irrationally and impulsively and recklessly. I don't know that he isn't doing that this time.” (Washington Post, January 8, 2019)
Sources: Mike Bloomberg 2020;
Biography, (November 25, 2019);
“Michael Bloomberg,” Wikipedia;
Jodi Rudoren, “Bloomberg, in Israel, Wins a $1 Million Prize, and Then Gives It Back,” New York Times, (May 22, 2014);
Ami Eden, “Bloomberg or Bernie: Which Jewish candidate do American Jews want?” JTA, (November 25, 2019);
Ron Kampeas, “Will Michael Bloomberg’s Jewishness help or hinder his run for the White House?” JTA, (November 26, 2019);
James Hohmann, “The Daily 202: Mike Bloomberg wants more engagement with Iran, North Korea and China,” Washington Post, (January 8, 2019);
Ray Hanania, “Bloomberg backs dialogue — in US politics and in the Middle East,” Arab News, (September 25, 2019);
Aiden Pink, “4 Jewish Things To Know About Michael Bloomberg,” Forward, (November 8, 2019);
Ron Kampeas, “Bloomberg: I opposed the Iran deal, but the way Trump left it was wrong,” JTA, (January 22, 2020);
“Mike Bloomberg,” Council on Foreign Relations, (January 23, 2020);
Jacob Kornbluh, “Mike Bloomberg: Jewish voters don’t have to compromise values for Trump’s Israel record,” JewishInsider, (January 26, 2020);
Allison Kaplan Sommer, “Democratic Candidates Slam Trump’s Plan, as pro-Israel Democrats Slam Sanders,” Haaretz, (January 30, 2020);
“Mike Bloomberg: Anti-Semitism is a problem on the right and the left. Here’s how I’d combat it from day one,” JTA, (February 11, 2020);
Alexi McCammond, “Bloomberg suspends presidential campaign, endorses Biden,” Axios, (March 4, 2020).