Shortly after the announcement that Glenn Beck would be "transitioning off" the Fox News Network, my inbox began filling up with a ton of emails containing the jeers, tears, and fears of those who regularly read my articles. One writer proclaimed "This is the best news I've had for a long time. The streak of insanity that Glenn Beck represents is truly frightening. One wit asked "From what is he 'transitioning?' From Australopithecus Robustus to Cro-Magnon?"Yet a third opined, "Beck's sin is that he lost money . . . not that he was crazy, which he admittedly is, nor that he offended intelligent people, which he did, but that he lost it . . ."
While many saw the Beck-Fox divorce as nothing more than a business decision -- the show has, in reality been losing advertisers right and left -- and the Washington Post's Dana Milbank suggested that Beck had simply become too unhinged even for network Grand Poobah Roger Ailes, there were more than a few who -- unbelievably -- voiced the certain knowledge that Beck's demise was due to a Jewish-led conspiracy! Typical of those holding this view/fear was the chap who wrote, "Does anyone find it strange that he accused Obama of racism and . . . no reaction? He speaks of Muslims in ugly terms. No reaction. But he makes comments about Jews and suddenly he's racist? Coincidence? I don't think so."
It should be noted that ever since Beck made his Fox debut in January 2009, he loitered around the fringes of anti-Semitism and chose to hang out with those who view the world through the lens of a monolithic Jewish conspiracy. As time progressed and Beck's worldview became increasingly apocalyptic (not to mention paranoid), his support of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and theorists likewise increased. Beck has long made a punching bag out of George Soros, a Jewish billionaire and Holocaust survivor, calling him a "puppet master," and reading descriptions which characterize him as an "unscrupulous profiteer" who "sucks the blood from people." He also repeatedly -- and falsely -- accused Soros of being "a Nazi collaborator" who "saw people into the gas chambers." (It should be noted that Soros was all of 15 at the end of World War II; the tale of how he survived the Holocaust is well documented, and does not include him being a "collaborator.")
Last month, Beck devoted an entire program to a conspiracy theory about how various bankers -- including the Rothschilds -- created the Federal Reserve. To "prove" his claim, Beck hosted conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion "accurately describes much of what is happening in our world." Griffin has repeatedly claimed that "present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order." It should be noted that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, whose popularity and mass dissemination owe much to auto magnate Henry Ford, was thoroughly discredited in the 1921 work History of a Lie (which can be downloaded) by the American journalist/diplomat Herman Bernstein. Regardless, millions still subscribe to the forgery's malevolent message of Jewish world domination . . . and it is likely that Beck is one of them.
Beck also developed a fond fascination for the theories of David Barton, the Founder and President of WallBuilders, "a national pro-family organization that presents America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage." Barton, who has been variously described as a "Christian nationalist" "a Holocaust denier," and "one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians," has called for the death penalty for gays and lesbians, vigorously denies that the Founders supported a wall of separation between church and state, and firmly believes that America was founded as "an explicitly Christian nation." Furthermore, Beck's buddy -- who he once praised as "the Library of Congress in shoes," believes that biblical law should be instituted in the United States, and finds scriptural justification for everything from eliminating the capital gains tax, to the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In light of Beck's obvious fascination with -- if not outright belief in -- anti-Semites and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories -- not to mention the Christian revisionism of David Barton -- I was dumbfounded by several other emails. that came into my in-box. Hauntingly, these writers -- who for the most part are Jewish -- expressed their deep and regret at Beck's "transitioning" because, as one woman explained, "he is one of the best friends Israel has." Her email, which was part of a multi-forwarded chain that must have ultimately reached thousands of people, contained a YouTube video of Beck proclaiming "I stand with Israel."
Here we come to an issue which, quite frankly, gives me pause: how to respond to "supporters of Israel" who, outside of their public protestations about the Jewish State, support issues and have opinions which are largely antithetical -- if not anathema -- to Jewish values. That Glenn Beck -- or Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Alan West, Jim DeMint or a thousand other right-wingers -- voice support for Israel is certainly to be preferred over them siding with Hamas, viewing Israel as THE impediment to peace in the Middle East. or seeing only the Palestinians as victims . . . as so many on the left now do. At the same time, I am highly distrustful of Beck's (or Palin's or Barton's) "support." Much of it has to do with Christian eschatology -- the Christian view of End Times and the Second Coming, which requires the ingathering of all the Jewish exiles. Again, I certainly encourage people of all faiths to support Israel despite her imperfections. All things considered, Israel has achieved more than anyone could have imagined, considering the odds, the times and the neighborhood. But at the same time, just because a person voices support for Israel does not mean we must forgive or ignore everything else they say or believe, espouse or propose.
In early January, I wrote a piece entitled A Memo to Sarah Palin in which I took the former governor to task for using the term "blood libel," explained the history behind this egregious term, and strongly urged her to take her new-found millions and get out of politics. The article wound up garnering more attention and commentary than anything I have ever published. Sadly, much of the commentary was highly negative; people taking me to task for having "the gall to attack a true friend of Israel." One writer actually referred to me as "A prevaricating sack of organic waste," declared that I had no right to call myself 'rabbi' and urged me to "fade away forever so that there will be more room for decent people like Sarah Palin." Although I can't say that I enjoy reading comments like this, I do understand that people are quite passionate when it comes to Israel. And I fully expect to receive some pretty interesting responses to this article as well . . .
I have never agreed with those who proclaim that "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and oh so many others may well be friends and supporters of the "Holy Land," which is not precisely the same thing as the "State of Israel. But, as the old saying goes, "With friends like these . . ."
©2011 Kurt F. Stone