Clearing Up the Truth on Glenn Beck's Nazi Obsession and Repulsive Anti-Semitism
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On Wednesday, Glenn Beck and the leadership of Fox News made a mockery of their commitment to me and two rabbis.
Let me take a few steps back to tell you why what happened scares me.
On Tuesday night, many in our community were gathered together, in Brooklyn, in Dayton, in Santa Barbara. Seventy-two years ago, the homes, shops and synagogues of many of our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were ransacked, broken and burned as Nazi stormtroopers destroyed towns and villages across Germany and Austria. Many historians view Kristallnacht as the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.
Washington Post journalist Dana Milbank has observed that Fox News host Glenn Beck has a bit of a Nazi fetish. From Obama's inauguration through June 2010, Beck had "202 mentions of Nazis or Nazism, according to transcripts, 147 mentions of Hitler, 193 mentions of fascism or fascist, and another 24 bonus mentions of Joseph Goebbels." This week he spoke again about the Holocaust. But it was not to commemorate Kristallnacht. It was to engage in an insidious form of Holocaust revisionism. His motivation? To score political points against George Soros, a prominent Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor.
As some may know, I was the subject of a personal attack by Glenn Beck in May of this year. Responding to an article I wrote supporting a government role to advance the common good, Beck scolded me, declaring that my words "are what led to the death camps in Germany" and that I "as a Jew, should know better." To discuss this and similar comments, on July 26 I joined rabbis Steve Gutow and David Ellenson, on behalf of 14 prominent leaders of national Jewish organizations, in a meeting with Fox News president Roger Ailes and the producer of Glenn Beck's television show, Joel Cheatwood. We spoke for almost an hour about the concerns held by many Jews about Glenn Beck's constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.
Ailes and Cheatwood assured us they understood our concerns and would explain them to Beck. Two days later, I received a handwritten note from Beck: "Simon, Joel shared the details of your meeting yesterday. Please know that I understand the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in Human History. Thank you for your candor and helpful thoughts."
On Wednesday, Glenn Beck and the leadership of Fox News made a mockery of their professed understanding. In his own words, "George Soros used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps."
No one who truly understands "the sensitivity and sacred nature" of the Holocaust would deliberately and grotesquely mischaracterize the experience of a 13-year-old Jew in Nazi-occupied Hungary whose father hid him with a non-Jewish family to keep him alive. Many other Jews survived the attempted extermination of the Jewish people by changing their identities and hiding with non-Jews. With these falsehoods, Beck has engaged in a form of Holocaust revisionism.
I have had the privilege recently of getting to know George Soros. During our conversations, he made it clear that his experience surviving the Holocaust seared a simple but profound truth in his brain: Jews suffer in nationalist societies and thrive in open societies. When he began his philanthropy, it was driven by this insight. It's why he named his foundation the Open Society Institute. This year alone, he has donated $700 million in an effort to make the world safe for all outsiders, to protect the weak from being preyed on by the powerful. It is what motivated one of his sons to pursue a PhD in Jewish studies, with a focus on modern European Jewish history.
Yet according to Glenn Beck, Soros "is a collaborator" who "saw people into the gas chambers."