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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

More objections to selective outrage about the Holocaust

By Jennifer Rubin

Last week I took to task the large group of rabbis who, after having not voiced similar objections to the equally egregious behavior of liberals, chose to go after Glenn Beck for his use of Holocaust language.

Yesterday, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (with whom I don't always see eye to eye) took issue with the rabbis' ad in the Wall Street Journal (where the ad originally ran). In a letter to the editor Foxman wrote:

I was surprised to see my name and statements attributed to me used in the advertisement from Jewish Funds for Justice calling on Rupert Murdoch to "sanction" Glenn Beck for his repeated use of Holocaust and Nazi images on his Fox News program.

I want to make it clear, for the record, that I do not support this misguided campaign against Fox News, even though my name was used.

While we have said many times that Nazi comparisons are offensive and inappropriate when used for political attacks, in my view it is wrongheaded to single out only Fox News on this issue, when both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, can share equal guilt in making trivializing comparisons to the Holocaust.

Furthermore, the open letter signed by hundreds of rabbis is a trivialization in itself--bizarrely timed for release on United Nations's Holocaust Remembrance Day. At a time when Holocaust denial is rampant in much of the Arab world, where anti-Semitism remains a serious concern, and where the Iranian leader has openly declared his desire to "wipe Israel off the map," surely there are greater enemies and threats to the Jewish people than the pro-Israel stalwarts Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck.

Now, Foxman's words were not taken out of context. But unlike the left-wing rabbis of the Jewish Funds for Justice, Foxman has blasted Keith Olbermann, Time magazine, Steve Cohen, MoveOn.org, Huffington Post and other left-leaning outlets and figures.

In another letter to the editor, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, wrote, in part:

I have no position on Mr. Beck, but I am frankly puzzled as to how he merits so great an expenditure by this group. What a waste of communal resources this represents when there are so many needy people, Holocaust survivors and others. Herein lies the mercy of religious figures--not in politics.

This absurdity and the fact that these rabbis have never seen fit to comment on Mr. Soros's support for entities that have harmed Israel and Jewish interests (and in my view, Western interests generally), force me to speak out.

Elan Steinberg is quoted in the advertisement in his capacity as vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors. He has no more right than I do to speak in the name of the survivors on this topic. I know this because I, too, am vice president of the American Gathering. I also know that in my 30 years of participation in large-scale annual commemorations I have yet to meet a survivor who expressed support for Mr. Soros.

There is no mystery as to why the Jewish Funds for Justice is so selective in its condemnation. The group has received large grants from George Soros's Open Society Institute (although the Jewish Funds for Justice says that doesn't matter). But if you glanced through the Jewish Funds for Justice's blog (jspot.org), which now -- imagine that! -- suddenly seems to be down, you'd get a flavor for what the group is all about. The blog styles itself as home for the "Jewish netroots," and offered such posts as "Tea Bagging, Anti-Semitism, and Jewish Silence." You get the drift.

The rabbis, using their titles and positions in their communities (only rabbis were allowed to signed the anti-Beck letter), were not candid about the agenda of the organization that ran the ad and have not been on a diligent search for improper anti-Semitic or Holocaust rhetoric. (Otherwise, the group's now hard-to-find blog would contain some evidence that the group cares about more than furthering the left's political agenda.) Rather, the rabbis have been on the lookout for opportunities to skewer their political opponents. Not exactly profiles in courage -- or in ethics, are they?

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 2, 2011; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  American Jews  
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Comments

I too was appalled by the "chutzpah" of these rabbis, who ignored the Nazi comparison blabber of people like Rep. Steve Cohen and instead went after supporters of Israel like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Glenn Beck. Useful idiots, all of them - chiming from their ivory towers.

Posted by: phillygirl1807 | February 2, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Time for this group of religious teachers to grow up:

Silly rabbis, political tricks are for kids…

Posted by: SCMike1 | February 2, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer, out of all people, is offering lectures about selective outrage. Pot meet kettle.

Posted by: mustangs79 | February 2, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The issue is not that some people get excited and have used Nazi references occasionally. The issue is how much Glen Beck uses it in a such a way that it is calculated to give as much poison to personal attacks as he can. He does it over, and over, and over, again.

Posted by: Daedulus | February 2, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, thank you, thank you for returning some sanity to this issue, Jennifer.

Now, please print out your column and staple it to Dana Milbank's face.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 2, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Great post. And I agree, staple it to that publicity-seeking clown Milbank's face.

Posted by: jimmyjohns | February 2, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

There are very few more unethical and immoral places than the politics of the American Jewish Community, and I say this as a Jew. The backstabbing, lies, slanders, and personal ill will that characterize these "Professional Jews" are simply disgusting.
Once upon a good time, internal American Jewish political and religious conflicts and differences, our dirty laundry as it were, were never publicized to the non Jewish media. Certainly not in full page ads or letters to the New York Times.
Worse, much of it has spilled over into Israel itself, which should be above Jewish politics in any event.
The Nazi Jewish collaborator George Soros, who by the way freely admits his collaboration, the profits he made from it, and his lack of regret for his actions are all well known.
Thus it should come as no surprise that Mr. Soros continues his anti Jewish collaboration even now, financially subidizing and politically supporting some of Israel's most bitter enemies.
The Reform and Conservative Rabbis and Jewish political and social leaders who take Soros's blood money should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 2, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to suggest a name for this particular group of Rabbis:

The Sanhedrin.

Has kind of a ring to it, no?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 2, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

If Ms. Rubin is seriously complaining that the Rabbi's "were not candid about the agenda of the organization that ran the ad" then I expect her to write often about the ruling by the SCOTUS that allow unlimited secret donations by corporations for political ads. The last time I checked, Corporations were "created" by state charter and have no "inalienable rights".

Posted by: thebobbob | February 2, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Good post, Beniyar. When friends of Israel go too far in their rhetoric, they should be called on it, but with all the anti-Semitism that is rampant on the left, it's weird that the rabbis chose this particular target for a full-page ad. It's puzzling that they don't go after Soros with equivalent vehemence. Your explanation -- money -- may be the case.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, he's a friend of Israel. So it's okay?

News flash: Friends of Israel can still be plenty obnoxious and make statements that are offensive to Jews and gentiles alike, especially when they make parallels to the Holocaust for ordinary political idsagreements. And when they do and they get called on it, being a friend of Israel is a pretty weak defense.

Posted by: krickey7 | February 2, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

krickey, what you say is true. In a democracy, free people constantly make intemperate, hyperbolic political statements. This has been going on since the founding of the republic. Have you read what the Founders said about each other?

The question raised is why did these rabbis go after Murdock, Ailes and Beck for very minor comments at a time when virulent anti-Semitism is routinely spewed by the left? Abe Foxman got it right in this instance.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Can we make an Agreement that you Sirs, are no Gentlemen?

(Don't mean to give offense to any in the Jewish community, just making a lame, genteel gentile joke). Sorry, George, Lenny, and Don.

Posted by: aardunza | February 2, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Bravo! I was appalled by the waste of money for this ad, by the misguided notion that Fox News is such a great threat to Jewish survival that it merited a full-page ad, and by the fact that two former assistant rabbis at my wonderful shul actually signed it.

Posted by: jofu | February 2, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

There can be no apologizing for or explaining Glenn Beck. His show is a symphony of anti-semitic dog whistles. The way he's slimed George Soros belongs in a museum of hideous conduct. It deserves to be called out.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | February 2, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

getjiggly2, I've long suspected my dog of anti-Semitism. He once tried to bite a Jewish house guest. But the other day when Glenn Beck was on, Frisbee napped peacefully in front of the TV. So you might be wrong about the anti-Semitic dog whistles.

Posted by: eoniii | February 2, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Selective disapproval seems to be a universal problem. Ms. Rubin neglects to mention that Beck didn't merely trot out tired Nazi analogies but accused George Soros, then a 14 yr old boy in hiding, of complicity in the Holocaust. You don't have to be a George Soros fan -- or even a recipient of his philanthropic largesse --to find that accusation obscene and disgraceful. They were not simply objecting to Beck's "holocaust language" as she would have it. By glossing over that fact, Ms. Rubin displays the same sort of "selectivity" that she ostensibly decries. It is all too predictable that in her rush to defend Rupert Murdoch, she sacrificed intellectual honesty.

Posted by: sfc11 | February 2, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Beck accused soros of complicity in the Holocaust, and I have heard him agree that his activities as a boy should be forgiven. What I have heard him criticize is Soros speaking of those activities much later, and expressing no regret on the grounds that "if I didn't do it, someone else would have." Beck found this chilling, and I think that if you don't there's something wrong with you. You might not agree that this response also says something about Soros's political activities, but it's not anti-semitic to suggest the connection.

Posted by: adam62 | February 2, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Drag a pack of hundred-dollar bills through a group of socialists and they'll sign anything you want.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | February 2, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

How many hoary anti-semitic stereotypes does Glen Beck have to exhume before Jen can admit she was wrong? I won't be holding my breath. Being a conservative evidently means never having to say you were wrong.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 2, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

sfc11: Soros has repeatedly refused to acknowledge any sense of guilt over his role in sending fellow Jews to their deaths, and has repeatedly described 1944, the year in which the majority of Hungarian Jews were murdered, as "the best year of [his] life." And of course his philanthropic activities have never included doing anything for Israel. I realize that the Holocaust had complicated psychological effects on survivors, but in Soros's case they have taken an especially ugly and sinister form.

Peter Shalen

Posted by: shalen | February 2, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Some pretty weak argumentation in this thread ....

First, as far as I know, Jennifer doesn't claim to speak for anyone but herself. The rabbis claim to speak for a group - the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Jennifer's obligation is to be true to herself - that's who the Post hired her to be. The rabbis have an obligation to be true to their organization, not to hijack it's letterhead for their own personal vendettas.

Second - Glenn Beck anti-semitic? Seriously? When did the definition of "anti-semitic" get changed to "someone I don't like"?

Third - what in Hades does any of this have to do with Citizens United? Talk about riding a hobby horse.

Posted by: g8trbd57 | February 2, 2011 10:45 PM | Report abuse

g8trbd57 -You are apparently not a graduate of the, ahem, right sort of school, so you did not get the memos.

Glenn Beck is certainly anti-Semitic because, well, you know the race card was played and did little good, so this is a sort of Plan B. Sure he has rabbis on his show, yes there were a number in his crowd of ministers, preachers, and priest down at the Mall last summer, but we really don’t expect most folks to remember that, as was explained in Journolist posting #1047. Ah, you didn’t get it? Pity, that.

Your view of Citizens United further exposes your lack of good breeding. Do not be concerned as it happens to afflict most of the members of today’s Supreme (?) Court. The issue is simply that when bumpkins like you, Nino, and Clarence read something like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Your feeble mind so focus on the start -- Congress shall make no law -- that your untrained, unrefined faculties are so exhausted that you cannot discern what the truth clearly is: Congress must make laws to curb the animal spirits. Were it not to do so, its members would be so occupied fending off the great unwashed, as the Senate Majority Leader once intimated, that they would be unable to conduct the nation’s important business and be on time in their club at day’s end. Moreover we simply cannot have voters bothered by contrary voices when our beloved incumbents travel home every two or six years for reelection. It’s rather unseemly to have to mix with the hoi polloi, risking severe infections by shaking hands and such, not to mention the psychic damage resulting from critical remarks uttered in their vicinity, don’t you agree?

Clearly the voices that should be heard are those of real journalists and the great members of the puditocracy who have developed their art in the nation’s finer academies. They are able to guide and educate the masses to the correct candidates and must not be bothered by those who have toiled in mercantile pursuits, plying their wares to the unwary.

It’s really quite simple…

Posted by: SCMike1 | February 2, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Dear Daedulus, if you read this, would you kindly cite all those examples where Glenn Beck "uses [Nazi references] in a such a way that it is calculated to give as much poison to personal attacks as he can. He does it over, and over, and over, again."

I watch Beck regularly. He uses Nazi references in a historical way, such as to show where Josef Goebbels got his inspiration from media pioneer Walter Lippmann during the Woodrow Wilson era (who, along with Soros, is one of Beck's betes noires). But I have not heard him make many glib comparisons of Nazis to contemporaries, and if he make a Nazi comparison, he uses disclaimers such as "they are not in any way genocidal racists like the Nazis".

If you have any contrary evidence, please show your hand rather than making unsupported statements.

Posted by: mlebauer | February 4, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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