Comment: Andrew Breitbart, Israel and Judaism

ByJERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
March 4, 2012 03:49

Forty three- year-old conservative blogger and Internet pioneer dies; Breitbart carved out new mixture of investigative journalism.




CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER and journalist Andrew Breitba

CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER and journalist Andrew Breitbart 390 . (photo credit:Brendan McDermid/Reuters))

Andrew Breitbart, the 43- year-old conservative blogger and Internet pioneer known to a generation of Americans for a new style of online media – a unique genre of combat journalism – died on Thursday in Los Angeles from natural causes due to complications from heart failure.

Breitbart not only carved out a new mixture of investigative journalism, combining the mediums of video and the microblogging website Twitter with huge scoops, he was slated to start a Big Jerusalem website to fight the seemingly endless mainstream media distortions of the Jewish state.

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Adopted by a Jewish family in Los Angeles, Breitbart equated the preservation of liberty and freedom in the US with safeguarding liberties and security in the Jewish state. “Israel is in the right” and “If Israel goes, so will America,” he said during a lively speech last year at a meeting of Republican Jewish Coalition in Beverly Hills.

In this speech, Breitbart said of Israelis: “I just don’t understand how an inherently decent and free people could be the bad guy... This doesn’t make sense to me...
I’m glad I’ve become a journalist because I’d like to fight on behalf of the Israeli people...I’ve been there. And the Israeli people, I adore and I love.”


I asked Breitbart’s colleague Joel B. Pollak – editor- in-chief and general counsel for Breitbart’s online media empire, which publishes the websites Breitbart.

com, Breitbart.tv, Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Hollywood and Big Peace – to tell me about Breitbart and his relationship with Israel and Judaism. He emailed me on Friday: “Andrew only visited Israel once, a few years ago, but instantly fell in love with the country and its people.”

“He was the best kind of Jew and human being you could ever meet, one who created opportunities for people in whom he saw a spark – which Maimonides called the highest form of charity,” Pollak wrote. “He carried his faith as he carried all his convictions: with a lighthearted touch but a deep commitment.”

Though reviled by hardcore liberals and radical Leftists, Breitbart was an intellectual and political force to be reckoned with. The liberal-Left Jewish weekly, The Forward, placed him on their 2010 list of the top 50 most influential American Jews.

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who met Bretibart a number of times, commented on her blog, “He was an unapologetic political warrior. He was a conservative, American patriot and friend of liberty everywhere.

He was also a big friend of Israel.“ Glick added: ”Andrew understood the truth that eludes so many conservatives in the US and Israel. That truth – that if you want to win in politics you have to be good to your friends and bad to your enemies – is what motivated his every move.”

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Breitbart.

My only connection to him was through his favorite medium, the World Wide Web. In January, Breitbart tweeted about my Post exclusive on a raging anti-Semitism scandal at the liberal Washington think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP). He wrote: “Email Proves ‘Anti-Semitism’ at Lib Think Tank: Will Faiz Shakir fire Zaid Jilani over ‘Israel Firster’ slur at CAP?” Utilizing his pugnacious style in a typical microblog flash to his large twitter following of over 75,000, he pushed his liberal opponents up against the ropes. CAP eventually distanced itself from Jilani and severed employment ties with him, due to his crude anti-Jewish and anti-Israel writings.

In short, Breitbart was the raging bull of the World Wide Web but with a Lenny Bruce sense of humor and Saul Alinsky-style tactics, which he used to illustrate the soggy hypocrisy of a score of liberal-Left politicians, media outlets and organizations. In contrast to CAP’s early posture, in which the think tank defended a faction of hardcore anti-Israel bloggers, Breitbart took the business of fighting modern anti-Semitism very seriously. He embraced a human rights issue – hatred of Jews and Israel – that many liberals have largely ignored and downplayed.

In a moving obituary in the Jewish online magazine Tablet, it was noted that Breitbart was on the board of the Republican gay organization, GOProud. Though not a supporter of gay marriage, Breitbart, the married father of four children, worked to advance the modern conservative gay movement.

Liberty-driven mini-movements animated Breitbart.

He helped breath life and fire into the Tea Party movement. Whatever the advantages or flaws of the party, Breitbart recognized the value of hard-working Americans deeply concerned about constitutional freedoms.

Pollak wrote about how that life and fire extended to Judaism: “Andrew was proudly, and playfully, Jewish. In the last days of his life he wondered openly about observing Shabbat, even as he continued to tease me about not eating bacon and shrimp cocktails. More than once he burst into a Hebrew school song or parts of his bar mitzva portion while working at his desk across from mine – partly to amuse me and partly to entertain himself.”

“He often told an amusing story about meeting Idan Raichel [an Israeli singer-songwriter] in a restaurant where he had been dining with fellow conservative bloggers, and how surprised and inspired they were that the lanky, dreadlocked musician was an ardent and natural patriot,” he said.

“Andrew rejected the knee-jerk liberalism of the Jewish community in which he had been raised but never felt distant from his fellow Jews, no matter what background, and two of his closest colleagues were both Orthodox Jews whose levels of observance both amused and intrigued him.”

“We had a common Jewish kinship even though we lived our lives rather differently and I can say confidently that I’ve never met a finer soul, Jewish or otherwise,” Pollak continued.

Breitbart’s passing is a bottomless loss for the advocates of freedom and humanity in the Middle East and the West.

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