Sunday, September 04, 2011

Slice Three: Glenn Beck

Next, we move from Christian Zionists in general to a particular Mormon Zionist – Glenn Beck. Granted, Beck is not so religiously bigoted as a lot of Evangelical Christian leaders. He belongs to a religion they despise as heretical and makes at least the attempt to be inclusive in religious matters. But (as his detractors are fond of pointing out), he dabbles very heavy in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, without ever quite descending into anti-Semitism.

Most notoriously, his "expose" of George Soros as the puppet master was rife with anti-Semitic stereotypes. Some, like the Jew as banker and internationalist have at least the advantage of being based in fact and legitimately controversial. Others are longstannding anti-Semitic classics, like the view of Soros as conspirator and puppet master running a shadow government behind the scenes and controlling all world events. All in all, the portrayal was a sot of latter day Protocols of the Zion Elders. Nor does the Soros piece stand alone. He has promoted anti-Semitic sources from Eustace Mullins, who as blamed Jews for everything from running to Federal Reserve for their own benefit to 9-11 to concentration camps; to Elizabeth Dilling, author of amy anti-Semitic conspiracy screeds and supporter of Nazi Germany, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, who blamed Malaysia's economic collapse on a Jewish plot (led by Soros, or course) against a Muslim economy. Beck's defense, when confronted with with these associations, is to explain that he never actually read the books by Mullins and Dilling that he was promoting. And when he set forth the nine most dangerous people, in the present or recent past, eight were Jewish.

At the same time, Beck is a passionate supporter of Israel. He reaches out to Orthodox Jews. He held his “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem to express his solidarity with Israel (or at least with the most expansionist elements thereof). He generally lets it be known that he regards Israel as a heroic outpost fighting a lonely battle against Islamic extremism, and that the slightest hestitation in our support will incur the wrath of God.

In short, Beck, far more than any mainstream conservative politician or Christian Zionist, makes a clear Good Jew/Bad Jew distinction. In short, Beck sets himself up as arbiter of Jewish authenticity, with authority to decide who is an is not an Authentic Real Jew. Soros is not an Authentic Real Jew because he is an atheist and does not support Israel. Reform Jews are not Authentic Real Jews because of their association with liberal politics. And Israel's tent city protesters are not Authentic Real Israelis, but puppets of the radical left and militant Islam because, well, because Beck doesn't approve of their politics.

And it is this more than anything else, more than Beck's incredibly frivolous Nazi analogies, more than his constant dabbling in anti-Semitic stereotypes, that that has led to conflict between him and the Jewish community, including conservative Jews who would really like to see their fellow Jews move more in Beck's direction. But they are outraged that any goy would presume to have the authority to determine who is an is not a Authentic Real Jew -- especially when his definition is so narrow as to exclude the largest group of practicing Jews in the U.S. and as many as 87% of all Israelis. So he has been forced to walk back his claims that Reform Jews are not Real Jews and that ahe has the prerogative of determining what is legitimate in Israeli domestic politics.

Perhaps Glenn Beck and others like him should consider the possibility that Jewish authenticity may be more broadly defined than they like. The stereotype of the liberal, cosmopolitan Jew is as well established as the stereotype of the Jewish banker and, like so many stereotypes, it persists because there is at least some truth in it. Soros, besides a currency speculato, is a thoroughly international figure who favors international cooperation on many matters that transcend borders. It is not too presumptuous to guess that one reason he has no fondness for Israel is that Israel represents the sort of blood and soil nationalism that he despises and regards as the problem in today's world. This tradition of the Jew as internationalist, as liberal cosmopolite, as critic of nationalism is sufficiently well established that maybe it, too, is part of what it can be to be an Authentic Real Jew.

I want to address this issue later, but only after looking at the nastiest aspect right wing Jew-hating but Israel loving tendancy -- the European semi-fascist movement.

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