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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Today’s blog is a tribute to Glenn Beck, whose recent programs on Israel, anti-Semitism, and Jew-hatred of an Islamic strain have been unique in television fare, and in which Beck has been serious, passionate, and committed in his desire to defend Israel and to let Americans know why they should join him in this cause.

I have been critical of Glenn Beck many times in the past — I disagree with his penchant for accepting old John Birch Society figures’ views of our American past, particularly those of the late W. Cleon Skousen. As an autodidact, one of his problems is teaching as he learns something, and speaking out on a subject before he fully knows different interpretations and before he has had a chance to evaluate a subject thoroughly. I am especially critical of his brief discussion a year or so back on the topic of the 1950s in America and McCarthyism, and his reliance on the views of M. Stanton Evans. I and others have seriously dissected Evans in other venues.

But now, just as his ratings are evidently at an all-time low — although two million viewers per night is no small number — he has been devoting his air time the past few weeks to the need for defense of Israel and has been doing this in a way that no one else in the media is. Last night’s program, a careful overview of Jew-hatred through the centuries and a detailed look at the ties between Nazism and the Palestinian movement of the 1920s and 30s, was simply essential viewing for those who care about the future of the Jewish state.

First, look at the footnotes he provides on his website for the information he offered on the program. Viewers who take his admonition to look for them and actually read them will be led to a reprint of the important article that appeared a few years ago in The Weekly Standard written by the important German scholar Matthias Kuntzel, author of the very important book that came out in 2009 (which I wish he had included): Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. The book includes an introduction by the distinguished historian Jeffrey Herf.

That might lead readers to Herf’s own very important book: Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, which recently came out in a paper edition. And that, in turn, might lead some to read Paul Berman’s book: The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy over Islamism and the Press.

Yes, Beck is not an intellectual or an historian. But he thinks deeply and seriously about these issues, and urges regular Americans to study and learn, in this case, about the roots of anti-Semitism, the growth of Jew-hatred in our own time, and the reasons to defend and to cherish the state of Israel. No one else in the media has done as much to let Americans know about Islamist Jew-hatred and how it is being played out today. He shows his viewers videos from MEMRI’s own website that the major networks would never think of letting their viewers see.

Moreover, Beck is non-partisan when it comes to the issue. Twice on his program he quoted Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a leading liberal Democrat. Speaking at a Jewish function last Sunday, Schumer said:

The reason there is no peace in the Middle East is very simple. It’s because the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Arabs don’t believe there should be an Israel. It’s that simple. Anyone who tries to figure out a way to solve this conflict without realizing that truth will never get anywhere.

Schumer, of course, is correct. Beck has no hesitation in running the video of his comments — although on domestic issues, he has no love for liberal Democrats.

Those who did not see last night’s program have a chance to watch tonight’s, which promises to be of equal importance. Beck announced that he will devote his hour to Yad Vashem, the Israeli museum dedicated to the Holocaust and its victims, and its celebrating of the righteous Christians who risked their own lives to save Jews during the years of the Nazi onslaught. One of his guests will be a woman who was a young girl, who, during those years, lived in a sewer in Poland with her family, while a Christian regularly did their laundry, hid them from the authorities, and brought them food. She will tell her story tonight, and it promises to be one of great power.

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Fareed Zakaria has gained a reputation as one of the wise men of foreign policy; a former advisor to President Obama and now both host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria:Global Public Square and a columnist for Time and other publications. Last week, Zakaria went to town in a few different venues on both Israel and its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. On his own program, he offered a monologue attacking Netanyahu, then he went  on Eliot Spitzer’s own program to repeat his charges, calling the PM “a comma in history;” and if that wasn’t enough, he repeated his charges in a Washington Post op-ed. It is quite clear that the media is so longing for attacks on Israel that if one is a supposedly esteemed foreign policy pundit, he is given the opportunity to say the same thing over in three different venues.

According to Zakaria, the real news about Netanyahu’s visit was not that President Obama moved in a new anti-Israel direction, but that the president, by announcing that he would oppose Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to go to the UN and ask for recognition of a Palestinian state, had in effect moved the United States to a pro-Israeli position. Thus, Zakaria concluded, “Instead of thanking Obama for this, Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to stage, in the words of the former Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas, ‘Nothing less than a bizarre tirade at the White House on Friday, educating the president about the plight and the pogroms of Jews throughout history.’”

His main argument, which he repeats again and again, is that it is clear that it is Netanyahu who does not want a deal, since he prefers to avoid peace to maintain his fragile Israeli coalition, rather than go half way with the Palestinians.  To prove his point, he offered a 33 year old video of Netanyahu opposing a Palestinian state—the clear implication is that the man has not changed one bit since then.

Zakaria also claims, as he told Spitzer, that the to-do about the1967 borders is much ado about nothing. “It can’t be,” he told Spitzer, since “if you look at the statements made by every Israeli and American statesman over the last 10 years, including George W. Bush, including a joint statement between Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu, they make references to the ’67 borders.  Now, you could say that this was the first time a U.S. president in a speech made this kind of statement. But frankly, this is the kind of Jesuitical distinction without a difference.  Everyone knows the basic issue is you’re starting with the ’67 borders. The Israelis give back most of it. They keep some of it. In return, they swap some land to the Palestinians.”

And in his op-ed, Zakaria elaborated, attempting to prove that all past Presidents, and even Netanyahu himself and other former Israeli PM’s, understood that in a final settlement, Israel would go back to the 1967- actually the 1949- borders. Obama, he writes, had not changed anything, “it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who broke with the past — in one of a series of diversions and obstacles Netanyahu has come up with anytime he is pressed.” Even the administration of George W. Bush, Zakaria claims, knew this. He writes:

The Bush administration did not have a different position, as statements from the president and Condoleezza Rice make clear. Here is George W. Bush in 2008: “I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous.”

And, he adds, so did Netanyahu himself one year ago:

Or consider this statement from last November: “[T]he United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” That’s not Obama, Bush or Rice, but a statement jointly issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu on Nov. 11, 2010.

At first glance, the above certainly sounds convincing—although astute followers of policy know that George W. Bush signed a letter of agreement with the Israeli government on these issues of a quite different nature, and which the current administration has completely ignored. Yet to Zakaria, the obstacle to peace is simple. It is Netanyahu himself, who “has never believed in land for peace.” Not Mahmoud Abbas, who as Elliot Abrams writes, is the “man who really torpedoed the peace process.” Zakaria claims the former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert agreed to go back to the 1967 borders, omitting to let his readers know, as Abrams does, that “To the generous peace offer made by Ehud Olmert in 2008, Abbas responded with silence.” In fact, Olmert thought he had an agreement, but Abbas walked out saying he would return the next day to sign it, and instead, never returned or said one word to Olmert.

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