Fox news commentator Glenn Beck may have thought he had an easy target in the controversial financier George Soros – but he didn’t reckon with Jews who care about Holocaust remembrance and don’t take kindly to reckless charges being thrown into the political maelstrom.
“It’s totally over the top,” said Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman about Beck’s latest outburst.
What Beck said: Soros, a child in Hungary who survived by living with a non-Jewish family, “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice. I mean, he’s 14 years old. He was surviving. So I’m not making a judgment. That’s between him and God. As a 14-year-old boy, I don’t know what you would do. I don’t know what you would do. But you would think that there would be some remorse as an 80-year-old man or a 40-year-old man or a 20-year-old man, when it was all over, you would do some soul searching and say, ‘What did I do? What did I do?’”
Soros, Beck went on, “is not a fan of the state of Israel. George Soros is — many people would call him an anti-Semite. I will not. I don’t know enough about all of his positions on Jews. I know his mother, in George Soros’s own words, his mother was an anti-Semite. And so he just has this weird, weird world view. He’s also an atheist.”
Beck said he wasn’t judging Soros – but that’s sure what it sounded like to a lot of listeners.
The ADL’s Abe Foxman is also a child survivor who lived only because his parents turned him over to his Catholic nanny.
“Look, I spit on Jews when I was six years old,” Foxman told me. “Does that make me an anti-Semite?”
The issue of the Shoah “is so sensitive that I’m not even sure Holocaust survivors themselves are willing to make such judgments,” Foxman went on “For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say, there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, that’s horrific. It’s totally off limits and over the top.”
Beck’s comments “were either out of total ignorance or total insensitivity,” he said.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, called the Beck accusations “monstrous; you don’t make such accusations without proof, and I have seen no such proof.”
Beck’s charges, he said, “go to the heart of the instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust."
Simon Greer, president of the Jewish Funds for Justice, met with Fox News executives in July to discuss Beck’s “constant and often inappropriate invocation of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on the air.”
Greer and Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) received a handwritten note from Beck saying “Please know that I understand the sensitivity and sacred nature of this dark chapter in Human History. Thank you for your candor and helpful thoughts.”
Yesterday’s on-air comments by Beck “made a mockery of their professed understanding,” Greer said in a statement. “In an effort to demonize a political opponent, Beck and Fox News scurrilously attacked George Soros, a prominent Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor. No one who truly understands ‘the sensitivity and sacred nature’ of the Holocaust would deliberately and grotesquely mis-characterize the experience of a 13 year old Jew in Nazi-occupied Hungary whose father hid him with a non-Jewish family to keep him alive.”
Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy said Beck’s “use of the Holocaust to discredit George Soros is beyond repugnant. The Holocaust is one of history’s most tragic events and those who survived it are owed our enduring respect.”
Why is Soros important to the far right?
Could it be because he is a major contributor to Democratic causes, and because they are trying to make his money radioactive to their political adversaries?