Rosenberg: 'Glenn Beck era will likely end sooner than expected'
Holocaust survivors and prominent Jewish groups are targeting Fox News personality Glenn Beck for his claim that billionaire George Soros helped in the effort to exterminate Jews during World War II.
Some political observers are wondering whether Beck may have gone too far this week with a series on Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist of Jewish extraction who survived the Nazi occupation of his native Hungary. During a multi-part series on Soros on his radio show, Beck on Thursday described Soros' youth during the war:
George Soros' father asked a Christian in Hungary to adopt his son or make him his Godson. And George Soros 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. ... It's frightening. Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.
That comment drew condemnation from Holocaust survivors and Jewish groups, who described it as offensive and ignorant.
"For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say – inaccurately – that there's a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, as part of a broader assault on Mr. Soros, that's horrific," said Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor. "To hold a young boy responsible for what was going on around him during the Holocaust as part of a larger effort to denigrate the man is repugnant."
According to previously published accounts of his life, Soros was tasked as a child with delivering eviction notices to Jewish families during the war. But there does not appear to be any evidence that Soros "helped send the Jews to the death camps," as Beck asserted.
In an interview with the Jewish Week, Foxman said it was wrong to hold individuals to account for what they did to survive the war.
“Look, I spit on Jews when I was six years old,” Foxman said. “Does that make me an anti-Semite?”
(Like Soros, Foxman was handed over to, and raised by, a Christian family during the war.)
Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, told the Jewish Week that Beck's comments were "monstrous."
Beck's comments "go to the heart of the instrumentalization and trivialization of the Holocaust," Steinberg said.
Beck has long named George Soros as one of the people he views as an enemy of America, because of Soros' links to progressive causes. During the mid-term elections, Beck built a narrative of Soros as a shadowy puppetmaster attempting to destroy the US economy and middle class.
Now, at least one political writer sees career jeopardy in Beck's latest attacks on Soros.
"Thanks to the ADL, the Glenn Beck era will likely end sooner than expected," writes M.J. Rosenberg, a TalkingPointsMemo writer who focuses on Jewish and Israeli issues.
Rosenberg posits that Beck's series on Soros "would have been illegal in Germany" where "it is illegal to use Nazi images and themes especially to malign a Jew, let alone a Holocaust survivor."
He adds that he felt Beck's series was "so anti-Semitic" that it convinced him a Holocaust could happen in the United States.
"I am not saying Beck is anti-Semitic," he explained. "I think he is so utterly ignorant of Jewish history and the history of Germany 1933-1945 that he is unaware of what he is doing."
The following audio was broadcast on The Glenn Beck Program, Nov. 10, 2010, and was uploaded to the Web by MediaMatters.