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Did Glenn Beck just jump the shark in Israel?

His dismissal of 200,000 protesters seeking cheaper housing as aligned with terrorists probably won't broaden his appeal as he seeks to drum up support for his 'Restoring Courage' event.

By Staff writer / August 17, 2011

Glenn Beck gestures as he speaks in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 11.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP/File

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It isn't just members of the US Congress who are making a beeline for Israel for summer vacation (more than 80 members of Congress are enjoying all-expenses-paid trips to the Holy Land). Glenn Beck, the far-right radio personality and ardent Zionist, is heading there soon and is currently seeking to drum up support for his "Restoring Courage" event scheduled for Jerusalem on Aug. 24.

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Just as the Fonz's days were numbered the moment he jumped over a shark-infested pen on his summer trip to California (I originally misidentified the infamous shark-jump as having taken place in Hawaii, thanks to readers for pointing out the error), Mr. Beck is in danger of alienating a large section of his target audience on his coming vacation.

The 600 or so tickets for the event at Jerusalem's Davidson Center are sold out, but Beck has been eager to get large numbers of Israelis and foreigners to turn out for a public broadcast. He's not making that task any easier for himself. While Beck often proclaims his love for Israel and Israelis, a recent broadcast makes it clear that he views a vast swath of the Israeli public with contempt.

Last week on Beck's online show, he and his cohorts dismissed the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities complaining about rising prices, particularly for housing, as "from the far left" and implied they are communists. In a segment dripping with sarcasm, they said the protesters' demand for higher income taxes on the wealthy was evidence they "hate the rich."

Beck and Co. responded to Israeli demonstrators' calls that a right to housing be enshrined in law by saying that "worked out well for the Soviets." They even speculated that the protesters had ties to violent Islamist groups.

Beck himself almost veered close to a Nazi comparison when speculating about the relationships between the Israeli protesters and Muslim groups, suggesting with guilt-by-invented-association logic that they support violence.

First he implies that global leftists have organized the protests. "I wonder if there’s any financing behind [the protests] ... look to see if there’s any leftist global financing in Tel Aviv," he says. "And don’t look to see if there’s any Islamist group that’s joining them," he continues in a sarcastic tone that makes it very clear he thinks what follows is very likely. "Well, the National Socialists [Nazis] got together with [Islamists] but that's completely ... OK, the communists and the Islamists got together, but that's completely isolated ... well, it's happening in Egypt and in Libya, but there's nothing to look into there."

That the German Nazis were "leftists," that the Nazis were somehow aligned with Islamist groups interested in the creation of a global caliphate, and that the modern left is somehow connected with both, is an article of faith in the Beckian worldview. But to make the connection in regards to hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews, the vast majority of them supporters (not entirely surprisingly) of the Zionist project, was an interesting step for an American commentator who's been embraced by some members of Israel's current government.

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