In Praise of Glenn Beck: He Does the Job Everyone Else Ignores

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.