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.
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Beck has long been a divisive figure for Jews. In January, a group of 400 Reform rabbis (reform Jews are generally less strict in their application of Jewish religious law and call for a modernization of the faith) published an open letter in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal criticizing Roger Ailes, Beck, and Mr. Murdoch's Fox News for, in their minds, trivializing the Holocaust. The immediately precipitating event was Beck's characterization of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a Nazi collaborator. Beck's Fox program was cancelled a few months later.Skip to next paragraph
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"You diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only 'left-wing rabbis' who think so," they wrote. "It is not appropriate to call executives of another news agency 'Nazis.' And it is not appropriate to make literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom you disagree ... We respectfully request that Glenn Beck be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust and Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis' sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air."
In February, Beck responded by saying: "Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It's almost like Islam – radicalized Islam – in a way to where radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics."
Though Beck may have been counting for more support in Orthodox Jewish corners in Israel, there are signs that he's not winning more friends in that camp either. Writing this morning on the English website of Arutz Sheva, a pro-settler and religious Zionist Israeli news service, Heshy Rossenwasser, criticized the Israeli right's love affair with Beck.
"Any voice in the wilderness sounding a note of support to us comes as a breath of fresh air, and we welcome it with such ardor that we are willing to overlook potential faults and pitfalls – namely, that his seemingly pure and good-hearted motives just barely conceal political agendas and religious ideologies that ought to give Jews much pause," he writes.
"And now that Beck has spoken before the Knesset and is given the green light in the staging of his 'Courage' rally, he believes he has earned the right to pontificate about all matters Israeli. Specifically, he has called the current 'tent city' protests in Tel Aviv and other locations the doing of 'communists,' calling into question the financing of these protests and suggesting a sinister connection between the protesters in Israel and world socialism, framing the whole matter in the context of the sort of anarchists who protest G-8 meetings, and squeezing the square peg of what should be an internal Israeli matter into the round hole of his us-and-them, liberal-versus-conservative worldview. Whether he is right or not, let him go on back to where he came from and stick to things he might actually know a thing or two about, and let Jews and Israelis handle Jewish and Israeli matters."