Tag Archives: Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck’s Wet Hot Israeli Summer

By Adina Rosenthal

Glenn Beck is making quite a splash in the Jewish state this summer. This August, Beck will host “Restoring Courage,” a three-part event that Beck’s website describes as “an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that Israel does not stand alone.” The first event will be for American Christians “to get the Christian community in America to wake up and start standing up [for Israel].” The second will be more explicitly political in nature, purportedly including Senator Joe Lieberman, GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, and two other presidential candidates yet to be revealed. The final August 24 event that, according to the Jerusalem Post, “would be attended by more than 30 American national political figures, 70 international politicians and citizen delegations from 100 countries around the world, including Bahrain” will be held at the Southern Wall excavation site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Beck pledges to make this event bipartisan, not a rally against President Obama and his administration. For Beck, “If it’s just an event, we failed…It’s a launch of a movement of decent, like-minded, freedom-loving peaceful people who know the answer won’t come from Washington or Copenhagen. It’s not going to come from our political leaders, but from the people. It’s a freedom movement.”

However, not everyone is quite as enthusiastic. On the American home front, Beck has received criticism, especially from left-leaning press and groups. In response to a question about Glenn Beck’s participation in a summit in Israel, Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, replied that association with Glenn Beck is “not in the interest of the American Jewish community.  Alluding to a “proven track record of anti-Semitism,” Ben-Ami concluded that “this kind of friend Israel doesn’t need.”  In a recent Huffington Post piece titled, “Glenn Beck Defiles the Holy Land,” commentator MJ Rosenberg further draws out this accusation of anti-Semitism, describing Beck as treyf who is using Israel “as a disinfectant to cleanse him of the stink of anti-Semitism, racism, and proto-fascism. Without Israel, Beck is just another right-wing bigot and crackpot. But with it, he becomes almost legitimate and so does the dangerous and ugly portrayal of Jews that has become his trademark.”

Some Israelis are not impressed with Beck’s message either, but some for unexpected reasons. An an interview with Channel 10 news last week, during the second of his three solidarity trips to Israel (the first was on Israeli Independence Day), drew criticism that Beck may not be conservative enough.  Although he told a Knesset committee that the Israeli Palestinian conflict “is about the destruction of Israel and the end of the Western way of life,” his comments to Channel 10 news that “I’m not against a Palestinian state. I’m not here for a political solution,” elicited a sharp response from nationalist parliamentarians. National Union MK Arye Eldad told Beck “I believe in a two-state solution, because I remember that there is already a Palestinian state in Jordan…Israel belongs to the Jews. We need to end the occupation—the Muslim occupation of Israel that began 1,300 years ago.” MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) added “There were never Palestinians in this area.” In addition, Beck has never advocated freeing Jonathan Pollard from prison, a cause which MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) mentioned to Beck at the meeting.

Despite the flack Beck is receiving on all sides of the Israeli aisle, whether you like his politics or not, his heart seems to be in the right place. In a video on his website, Beck describes in detail the brutal murders of the Fogel family last March, and cites that most Americans had no idea of the atrocities as a platform for the importance of his initiative to stand with Israel. When asked about a segment on his former Fox News show dedicated to the heinous acts, Beck replied, “You have a horror show that Hollywood spends months dreaming up. You have villains like I’ve never seen before,” lauding Israelis’ courage and hope despite such suffering such tragedy. Beck also has plans to visit Tamar Fogel, daughter and sister of the victims, as part of this summer’s upcoming trip to Israel. Glenn Beck’s message is clear: “Israelis may like to hear and see that you’re not alone…There are millions of people [who support Israel] that you don’t see, because the media doesn’t want to tell their story, either.”

Love him or hate him, as MK Danny Danon (Likud) quipped, “If we didn’t have someone like Glenn Beck we would have had to invent someone like him.”

At Sanity Rally, Sense Through Satire

By Symi Rom-Rymer

In the weeks leading up to last Saturday’s Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, the media world was practically falling over itself trying to analyze, explain, and dissect the event before it even happened.  Pundits were asking each other, what it will it mean for the midterm elections, what did it mean about the state of centrist politics, is Jon Stewart preparing for a political campaign, will it draw more crowds than Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor, and most importantly, will it be a success?  Today, having almost fully recovered from being crushed morning ‘til night by 214,000 of my closest friends, I can unequivocally answer, I don’t know, I don’t know, I certainly hope so, and it seems that way.  As for the rally’s success, the answer is yes.

Initially, it was a bit of a letdown.  The musical guests, ranging from Cat Stevens to Tony Bennett, while eclectic, didn’t translate well to the crowds.  At one point during the performance of gospel singer Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy, leader of the band Wilco, the people around me were less excited about the singers than watching someone trying to climb a tree for a better view.  And some of the Stewart/Colbert shtick like the “sanity” and “fear” award ceremony or the mock debate between Stewart and Colbert soon lost steam to a mixture of painful silliness of some of the content, the enormity of the crowds, the poor sound, and too few jumbotrons.

And yet what did translate across the Mall, despite the technical difficulties and general goofiness, was the core impetus for the rally: to demonstrate frustration, but sanely.   People came from California to Maine to Alaska and willingly stood jammed shoulder to shoulder for three hours, to not just have a few laughs, listen to some nice music and go home.  They came to support the idea that despite shouting voices that too often dominate the political and journalistic landscape, there truly is more that brings us together than pushes us apart.  This spirit was best exemplified during Father Guido Sarducci’s benediction when he asks God to name his favorite religion and Sarducci’s suggestion that “someone could say to [Jews and Muslims], ‘They don’t eat pork, you don’t eat pork.  Let’s build on that” drew the loudest cheers and shouts from the crowd.

Perhaps some pundits have declared the rally a failure because it did not sufficiently energize the democratic or even centrist base to vote or because it was unclear what the ralliers were rallying for.  Indeed, the apolitical nature of the rally was almost shocking given that both Stewart’s and Colbert’s show seem to lean left both in audience and in content.  But standing there, in the midst of the crowd, there seemed to be little doubt as to the message that the hosts wanted to impart.  This was not a rally to whip people up, but rather to calm them down.  In echoes of President Obama’s post-partisan campaign, Stewart, in his closing speech, acknowledged the legitimacy of both the Tea Party-ers and Progressives and separated their rhetoric from those of real bigots.  “There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume!” he declared.  “Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult–not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. “

In the wake of the rally, many people are suggesting that Stewart run for office; including Washington Post On Leadership columnist Jena McGregor who wrote that Stewart’s leadership skills outstrip those of real politicians.  But we don’t need another politician.  What we do need is a 21st century jester who is not afraid to poke fun at the theatrical pompousness of political leaders and media personalities all the while demonstrating a cunning mastery of the issues.  We need someone whose job it is not to pander or bloviate, but rather who can effectively take on the aptly dubbed, “24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator.”  So far, neither political leaders nor media commentators seem up to the task.  So we have no choice but to turn to comedians and satirists, as people often do in times of crises, to help us make sense of our situation and offer us the opportunity to laugh at our struggles.   And as the throngs on the Mall demonstrate, I am not alone.

Symi Rom-Rymer writes and blogs about Jewish and Muslim communities in the US and Europe.

Haikus: The New Political Medium

By Michelle Albert

Political haikus

Skewer talking heads to roast

Pass barbecue sauce

If you need an outlet for politically-based anger, want to flex your poetic muscles or just need a laugh, Haik U Glenn Beck could be the answer. The blog, supported by Jewish Funds for Justice and spearheaded by Mik Moore (co-founder of the 2008 Great Schlep), posts reader-submitted haikus in response to what they consider a particularly irksome quote by Beck, a conservative pundit with his own Fox Network television show. Continue reading