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January 27: Glenn Beck and the 400 Rabbis

January 27, 2015

becknaziFour hundred rabbis organized by the Jewish Funds for Justice (today’s Bend the Arc) signed an open letter in the Wall Street Journal on this date in 2011 protesting reactionary Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck’s “monstrous” and “beyond repugnant” use of “anti-Semitic imagery” in his numerous attacks on George Soros. Beck had variously called Soros, who is a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, a “puppet master” who “sucks the blood from people,” and a Nazi collaborator (Soros had survived by being placed with a non-Jewish family assigned to record the belongings of Jews who had fled from Nazism) with “disturbing hair in his nose.” The rabbis’ letter stated that in “the charged political climate in the current civic debate, much is tolerated, and much is ignored or dismissed. But 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.” Lead signatories were the heads of the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements, and several Orthodox rabbis. Beck’s main response was to attack Reform Judaism, which he described as “generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way...”

“[I]t 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 that Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis’ sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air.” —from the ad, published in the Wall Street Journal