Glenn Beck at Wahsington Rally.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
NEW YORK – A week and a half after 400 American rabbis called for Fox News
Channel political commentator Glenn Beck to be sanctioned for his repeated
misuse of Holocaust terminology, many in and outside the Jewish community have
raised questions about the rabbis’ message.
RELATED:Column One: A prayer for 5771US rabbis pen letter criticizing Beck's Holocaust
In a full-page open letter
printed in the January 27 Wall Street Journal and Forward for Holocaust
Remembrance Day, the rabbis, representing all streams of Judaism, accused Beck
and FNC head Roger Ailes of desecrating the memory of the Holocaust. The letter
was prompted in part by Beck’s three-day series on billionaire George Soros in
which he claimed that Soros had survived the Holocaust by collaborating with the
The letter called on Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation,
FNC’s parent company, to sanction Beck and demand an apology from Ailes for his
and Beck’s repeated misuse of Holocaust terminology.
It was organized by
Jewish Funds for Justice and signed by the heads of the Reform, Conservative and
Reconstructionist movements, as well as by prominent Orthodox
When the letter appeared, Abe Foxman, national director of the
Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, told The Jerusalem Post he
found the letter a “bizarre” use of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Funds for Justice] has a right to voice their grievance.
What I find
bizarre, though, is to take Holocaust Remembrance Day – and the names of the
victims – to take a public stand against Murdoch, Ailes and Beck. They’re not
our enemy, and they are certainly not Holocaust deniers,” Foxman
“If you want to take on the issue – and the issue is a serious
issue – take out an ad, which I would be glad to sign, which takes on both
Democrats and Republicans for trivializing the Holocaust,” Foxman continued.
“But why zero in on these people and make them our enemies – which they’re not?”
Many have queried whether the strength of a multidenominational open letter was
deployed in the proper direction with the Jewish Funds for Justice
“Who would have thought that with all the real grave challenges
facing Jews [and] the memory of the Holocaust and Israel, that you and your
fellow 400 rabbis would see fit to take out a full page ad in the WSJ to go
after Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes and Fox News as if they were the enemy of Jews and
the memory of the Holocaust?” queried Canadian blogger Bill Narvey in an open
letter of his own addressed to the signatories.
“I don’t give a damn
about your politics or that you appear to be left wing. I do give a damn when
the foregoing very real and grave existential challenges facing Jews and Israel
do not enrage and unite you in great numbers to lead the Jewish community to
stand tall and firm against these threats,” Narvey wrote.
“I implore all
of you to direct your outrage and energies to leading the Jewish community as a
whole to stand up to and defeat the grave and existential threats that really
matter and which we Jews and Israel are confronted by daily!” Writing in a blog
entry in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Mark Paredes said he felt some of
the signatories had been motivated by Beck’s right-wing politics.
already condemned Beck’s irresponsible attacks on Soros’s Jewishness and actions
during WWII, and agree with JFJ and the rabbis that they are reprehensible,”
Paredes wrote. “However, for the life of me I cannot understand why the
signatories would invoke the considerable moral authority of the rabbinate on
this issue, considering the source. Moreover, the text of the ad inexplicably
(and carelessly) cites statements by Jewish leaders (e.g., Abe Foxman, Deborah
Lipstadt) who in fact were less than enthusiastic about the ad.”
the rabbis who signed the letter were “wrong – not morally, but politically,”
Atlantic writer Wendy Kaminer wrote, “I’m not criticizing the rabbis, or any
Jewish advocacy groups, for criticizing Beck. I’m not denying their right to
call for his punishment or even dismissal; I’m questioning the wisdom of doing
so. My unsolicited advice is: Expose and challenge the anti-Semitic ravings of
Beck and others, but stop short of trying to silence them.”