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Fire Abe Foxman?

Why it’s his fault that Glenn Beck is free to be Glenn Beck

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Abraham Foxman in 2005.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Despite grotesquely mischaracterizing George Soros’ actions as a young Jewish boy during the Holocaust; despite accusing Soros of orchestrating a conspiracy designed to topple economies and currencies and bring the world under his control; despite citing the notoriously anti-Semitic former prime minister of Malaysia and quoting someone else to the effect that Soros is a blood-sucker; despite all of this, it looks as though Glenn Beck is just going to keep on keepin’ on. The left that hates him anyway is going to say his documentary on Soros was anti-Semitic; the right that supports him anyway is going to say it wasn’t; the middle is not going to care.

Is Randy Scheunemann—a top foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin whose firm also has Soros’ Open Society Institute as a client—a hypocrite? How about all the Jewish contributors to Fox News? The problem is that there is no Archimedean point from which an otherwise neutral observer could stand and declare, “Glenn Beck is being anti-Semitic”; there has been no universally trusted validator who can be cited to someone who denies this. So, while a part of me wants to call up Bill Kristol, and Eric Cantor, and every other prominent Jewish person of the right, and ask them where they stand, I know they will simply say, “Beck wasn’t being anti-Semitic,” and that I will have no rebuttal beyond my own opinions. I have no one to cite as definitive “proof” that Glenn Beck was being anti-Semitic. I cannot put them on the spot, because I have no spot to put them on. (I did request a comment from News Corp. yesterday regarding Simon Greer’s charge that Beck had engaged in “Holocaust revisionism.” I haven’t heard back.*)

The person that I can cite should be Abraham Foxman. The man has run the Anti-Defamation League for nearly a quarter of a century; he is as connected as they come; and on top of that, he is himself a Holocaust survivor. But the most he would say when I reached him yesterday was that certain comments of Beck’s concerning the Holocaust were “horrific” and betrayed a total lack of understanding of the Shoah. What about Beck’s use of tried-and-true anti-Semitic tropes to conjure an evil billionaire Jewish financier working in the shadows to take over the world? “People involved in global finance have been called all kinds of things,” Foxman told me. “I don’t think that’s anti-Semitism.” He reneged even further today to Salon’s Justin Elliott: “I also believe that there are certain things he doesn’t understand, which have led him to make insensitive remarks,” was the strongest statement Foxman could muster. This is not surprising: It was not a month ago that Foxman’s organization honored Rupert Murdoch, Beck’s boss, with its International Leadership Award.

Elliott correctly identifies the problem: the “tension between the ADL’s dual identities as a civil rights organization and a pro-Israel advocacy organization.” Still, imagine a scenario wherein, yesterday, Foxman had said, “I am against George Soros’ opposition to Israel’s government, and I recognize that Glenn Beck has been a friend to Israel. But Beck completely crossed the line, and made statements about Soros that can only be construed as anti-Semitic. He should apologize.” If Foxman does that, I then get to call Kristol, and Cantor, and whoever else, and I do get to put them on the spot, because Foxman is that spot: Do you disagree with Abe Foxman on the anti-Semitism of Glenn Beck?

There are pro-Israel organizations aplenty. The ADL needs to decide if its mission is still “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” as it pledged in 1913. If it does, then it needs to actually, you know, do it. If it doesn’t, then the American Jewish community needs to find someone else.

* A bizarre attribute of the debate is that even those who have called the anti-Semite an anti-Semite have focused on the Holocaust remarks, when—it seems to me, at least—the lowest-hanging fruit, by far, is Beck’s eager citation of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad—who famously said, “The Jews rule the world by proxy. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong”—as an authority on Soros’ perfidy. Ironically, the Jewish community’s famed emphasis on the Holocaust as the sine qua non of anti-Semitism has actually undermined its ability to deal with anti-Semitism that is not directly related to the Holocaust.

ADL Stands By Glenn Beck in the End [Salon]
Top Palin Aide Is on Soros’s Payroll [Salon]
Earlier: Foxman Calls Beck’s Comments ‘Horrific’
Beck Accused of ‘Holocaust Revisionism’
In Beck Documentary, Soros is ‘Puppet Master’

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Daniel says:

You cite a number of reasons to think that Beck is inaccurate in his charges, misleading, and unfair to Soros – and I agree that seems to be the case. But what are the reasons to say that his attack was anti-Semitic? That Soros happens to be Jewish?

“The Jews rule the world by proxy. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong.”

Maybe Beck read this as a philo-Semitic statement? I don’t think Jews invented human rights or democracy (the Greeks certainly invented the latter), but I’m flattered by the idea.

Marc: Yasher koach on being the only one to get it right. Foxman’s hypocrisy, whether on Park 51, the Armenian genocide, or Glenn Beck, seriously undermines the efficacy of the Jewish voice in public discourse about civil rights and social justice in America and abroad. He repeatedly makes an impression that affirms rather than dispels the worst characterizations of Jewish duplicity and ruthless self-interest, devaluing our moral capital and increasing palpable animosity against Jews the world over. His doublespeak on Beck is just one more in a litany of public humiliations for the Jewish community which, in aggregate, achieve the very opposite effect of the ADL’s intended purpose. It’s time for Abe to pack it in and let a new generation of Jewish civil rights activists take the lead.

I don’t understand your point, Marc. You believe the Beck rant is anti-Semitic. That’s fine, it’s your opinion. You want an impartial “validator” to say that. You ask Abe Foxman, and he says he doesn’t think it is. And Michelle Goldberg asked another possible “validator,” J.J. Goldberg, and he didn’t think it was anti-Semitic, either. But since you disagree and didn’t get the answer you were looking for, the ADL must be wrong and Abe Foxman must be fired. Um…maybe you’re mistaken?

Plus, everyone agrees that Beck’s comments about Soros were very offensive, although they don’t agree that they cross that magic, non-objective line of anti-Semitism Why can’t you just call Eric Cantor, etc., and ask them if they found them inappropriate? (And actually, unlike Limbaugh, I think most prominent conservatives find Beck a clown anyway, so I bet they’d agree.)

yidishkind says:

His point is not so much about the Beck incident but rather that the ADL’s decision to support Israel at all costs has made it incapable of criticizing anyone who hires Anti-Semites as TV hosts even if they also support Israel. If the ADL wasn’t supporting Israel at all costs, they’d have no qualms about pressuring Fox News to get rid of Beck..


Personally, whether it’s Glenn Beck or Helen Thomas making the offensive remarks, I don’t want the ADL or any other Jewish organization “pressuring” a media organization to
“get rid” of anyone. If that media organization doesn’t want that person working for them because that person makes offensive remarks, that’s fine, but otherwise, I don’t know why you think it should be the ADL’s job to get Glenn Beck off the air–no matter what the ADL’s position is on Israel.

Jerome says:

Sack Abe!

And yasher koakh to you, Mobius1ski for getting it right about Marc T. Getting it right about Foxman, the ADL and Beck!

Phillip Cohen says:

Beck is an anti-semitic bigot.
Abraham Foxman is compromised. No matter what and from whom the offense may come the ADL should always defend American and world Jewry. In addition, the ADL should remain pro-Israel and Zionist. However, that stance should not be confused with the willingness and openness to criticize bad policy and policy makers in Israel. I am Jewish, a Zionist and love Israel. I deplore and criticize Israel for their settlement policies, especially under the current administration.
Shabbat Shalom

B’nai B’rith, 1897: “utter irrationality” of Zionism

“Neither space nor inclination will permit us at this time to discuss the utter irrationality of a scheme which would bring about a conflict with the Christian and Mohammedan powers, who would not and could not, without risk of revolution at home, surrender to the control of a Jewish government the places so sacred to them as those of Palestine, but the thought of these considerations should enlighten those who are ready to grasp at any will-o’-the-wisp that appeals to their piety.”

I wrote ADL over a week ago, on November 2, to complain about comments on Beck’s radio show about the elections “making Soros cry,” which he said is hard to do because “Soros saw people into gas chambers.”

Somehow, this remark largely escaped the media’s attention and ADL ignored my e-mail.

I told ADL the attacks against Soros fit a long history of painting intelligent, successful Jews as nefarious, using their wealth and power to deprive non-Jews of opportunity.

You are correct that the broader offense has been overlooked. The outrage goes beyond Beck’s comments on Soros’ survival during the Holocaust. The outrage is that Beck is hammering the perspective home to 2 million viewers that Soros is evil, when Soros often uses his influence for good, like undermining dictatorial regimes, contributing to charities, and supporting open societies.

Meanwhile, Beck ignores the true dastardly representatives of the rich and powerful, like Dick Cheney.

Why has Soros become Beck’s target? Because–to borrow a phrase from some guy on TV–Beck has a “deep-seated hatred” of Jews and Soros is Jewish.

More than once, Beck has touted anti-Semitic authors, hosted anti-Semitic guests, and demonstrated glaring insensitivity to the plight of Jews in the Holocast. Nowhere is this more in evidence than with his delusional attack against Soros as a Nazi collaborator. Holocaust deniers/revisionists routinely smear notable Jewish people (even Elie Wiesel!) as Nazi collaborators.

Beck’s continuous invocation of Nazi images, comparisons, and propaganda in criticizing President Obama and progressives further demonstrates his inconsideration of Jewish people, belittling the significane of what really hapepend–revising its history.

Why hasn’t Abe Foxman been out in front on this? Why is he writing letters praising Beck’s “support” for Israel and Jews even as Beck continues to denigrate the Holocaust? I hope you get an answer from Foxman on this.

Penny Kessler says:

Abe Foxman & Co. have one very simple issue: they belong to that group of Jews for whom love of Israel absolutely trumps hatred for Jews. As long as you pronounce adoration for Israel, it matters not if you say vile things about Jews.

Susan Parsons says:

The only anti-semite here is Soros.

Glenn Beck isn’t.

I have watched him for a long time.Please read link below and then decide.

I have lost all respect for Foxman and his stupid mistakes. He is no help to anyone and should resign over this.

He is supporting a man who chose to become a NAZI collaborator.

I’m no fan of Beck, and am agnostic on Soros, but let’s take a step back here. Let’s take the personalities out of this for a moment and examine this in the abstract. Would someone please explain why calling out an individual Jew for his supposed collaboration with Nazis in the destruction of Jewish lives is anti-Semitic? Would calling out a Jewish educator for his alleged abuse of Jewish children also be anti-Semitic?

I advocated firing Abe Foxman nearly three months ago on this page in response to the Park 51 controversy. I stand by my words.

Abe Foxman’s ADL has lost sight of the ADL’s original message.

E. Brown 2 says:

Here’s a little badly needed context:

E. Brown 2 says:

From the above link

“Soros said European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States. “There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that,” Soros said. “If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,” he said. “I can’t see how one could confront it directly.”

Soros also said that he has personally contributed to anti-Semitism. Soros believes that Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, was referring to people like Soros when he said, “Jews rule the world by proxy.” Soros’ projects and funding have influenced governments and promoted various political causes around the world.

Soros’ comments were called “absolutely obscene” by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.”

E. Brown: Do you know why that “badly needed context” is completely idiotic? Because it is obvious to pretty much everyone that when a visibly Jewish person does something very noticeably wrong, it negatively affects people’s impression of Jews. Not only is that not anti-Semitic, it is a principle that reasserts itself again and again throughout our rabbinic literature.

Saying that Jews “are their own worst enemies” when it comes to fomenting hatred against Jews is NOT the same thing as saying Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism. Case in point: Bernie Madoff. Did he create age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes about Jews and money? No. But did he embody them to the fullest, thereby providing evidence for our detractors and affirming the worst secretly and not-so-secretly held impressions of Jewish people? You betcha. Does Madoff bear any culpability for that at all?

As you would have it, no. As George Soros, who was targeted by Glenn Beck with age old antisemitic tropes, would have it: Yes, he had it coming because his own behavior fed into those impressions.

That is not the same as saying, “Jews cause antisemitism,” and to continue pushing that canard is to deny what is obvious reality.

E. Brown 2 says:

mobius1ski says:

“Do you know why that “badly needed context” is completely idiotic? Because it is obvious to pretty much everyone that when a visibly Jewish person does something very noticeably wrong, it negatively affects people’s impression of Jews. Not only is that not anti-Semitic, it is a principle that reasserts itself again and again throughout our rabbinic literature.”

I agree with Foxman, Soros’s statements ARE obscene for just that reason. He’s trying to fob off his own guilt generically. Did you go to the article and read the following paragraphs?

“Let’s understand things clearly: Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews; it’s caused by anti-Semites,” said Elan Steinberg, senior advisor at the World Jewish Congress. “One can certainly be critical of Bush policy or Sharon policy, but any deviation from the understanding of the real cause of anti-Semitism is not merely a disservice, but a historic lie.”

In addition to his unhelpful ideas, Soros has given scant money to Jewish causes. Soros said he has not given much to Jewish or Israel-related causes because Jews take care of their own, so that his financial clout is better directed elsewhere.”

Try a little reading comprehension before spouting off willfully ignorant nonsense.

Beck is a defender of both Jews and Israel, he just believes, as many, many people do that Soros is not a good man.
Reading this today, it appears both the writer of this peace and many of the people calling for Beck’s head have NEVER listen to Beck, just reporting what someone else said they thought he said or worst, making up words that never came out of the mans mouth. A report, on a report, by a third or fouth party that hates conservatives in general.
I see Rabbi’s on Beck’s panels and they get to speak to millions of people, when was the last time anyone saw or heard a Rabbi get to speak on a program that reachs millions on the liberal networks? Are these Rabbi’s anti Jew???
Soros has an agenda and Beck does not like it, if you don’t care for Beck, don’t watch or listen to him.
Soros was born a Jew, I suspect Beck could care less about that, it’s what’s Soros is doing thats the issue…
And yes, As a Jew, I do not find Beck anti-Jewish, just someone who tells the truth, not a party line…

Hersh Adlerstein says:

I am a retired ADL staff member. I knew Abe Foxman for many years. Abe certainly is not defending Glenn Beck’s antisemitism, but I must agree that he has become blind to one issue: are antisemites okay if they also support Israel? Maybe he needs to remember that the ADL certainly labeled Jerry Falwell – a staunch supporter of Israel – as an antisemite, and never hesitated taking on Pat Buchanan for his open support of Hitler’s Holocaust (long after the civilized world knew and taught the real facts). Support of Israel is necessary, but a Beck who supports Israel cannot be excused for his hatred of Jews. Abe’s a nice guy, but maybe he needs to study his own, and ADLs history and perhaps recall that the ADL once authored and distributed DANGER ON THE RIGHT, exposing the John Birch Society, a far less virulent voice od hatred than Beck or Limbaugh.

J Carpenter says:

The only reason Beck and other rightwing Mormons/Christians are “pro-Israel” lies in their view of the “end-times”—they don’t give a care about anything Jewish otherwise

E. Brown 2 says:

Paul says:

“And yes, As a Jew, I do not find Beck anti-Jewish, just someone who tells the truth, not a party line…”

The problem is, through either ignorance or willful disregard of context (because they hate Beck’s politics), they do not pay attention to the fact that Beck’s point is NOT simply that Soros went along with property confiscation in 1944, but had no expressed qualms about it in -1998-, when he was a man in his 60’s.

One thing that Beck -can- be busted for is claiming a direct involvement by Soros in “dragging people off to the gas chambers.” AFAIK, he was not a “greifer” like Stella Goldschlag.

E. Brown 2 says:


“but that he had no expressed qualms”

E. Brown 2 says:

“The only reason Beck and other rightwing Mormons/Christians are “pro-Israel” lies in their view of the “end-times”—they don’t give a care about anything Jewish otherwise.”

You’re confusing the Mormon Beck with Dispensational Protestant Christians, which is akin to conflating Samaritanism with Orthodox Judaism.

Susan Parsons says:

“J Carpenter says:
Nov 14, 2010 at 2:13 PM

The only reason Beck and other rightwing Mormons/Christians are “pro-Israel” lies in their view of the “end-times”—they don’t give a care about anything Jewish otherwise”

Have you any idea how many left-wing, anti-Semitic churches there are in the US? The Methodists for example.

I don’t care about their motives: most actually support Israel for purely moral reasons and frankly that’s a lot better then the “Jewicidal” Liberal Jews who are a fifth column, IMHO.

These are the idiots who voted for Obama without doing any research into his pro-Islamic tendencies.

I agree with HWB above. Foxman’s position on Park 51 made me lose what little respect I had for him. Apparently the ADL is only concerned with defamation if it is Jews being defamed. In Hebrew school I learned that we should ” do unto others as you’d have done to you,” regardless of the religious beliefs of the others.

I used to admire and support the work done by the ADL, but that ended when an award was given to Silvio Berlusconi, well before one was given to Murdoch. Under Abe Foxman’s leadership, ADL has lost sight of its mission and has lost the respect of many in the Jewish community, especially young people. Like another writer, I have written to the ADL and never received a response. Now, when I get a phone call asking me to contribute to the ADL, my response is “Not a cent until Abe Foxman steps down”. When I said that to one caller, he replied “A lot of people say that.”

Holy shizint, this is so cool thank you.

I’ve said that least 1783627 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean


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