Glenn Beck, the former Fox News personality, has devised a three-point strategy that enables him to widely disseminate the old "blame the Jews" meme without being dismissed as anti-Semitic.
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Fortunately, the economiccrisis in the United States has not produced a rise in anti-Semitism, as didcrises in the 1890s and 1930s. There are two good reasons for that.

The less important reasonis that the causes of the collapse are no secret; it was caused by thederegulation policies of the second Bush administration, and particularly ofthe home mortgage sector (and polls show that the public understands that). Moreimportant, the United States has in recent years been relatively free ofanti-Semitism, except on the far fringes of the left and right. European-styleconspiracy theorists who harangue about a mysterious cabal of Jews who controlthe world have not gotten much traction here.

At least they didn'tuntil Glenn Beck.

Beck, the former FoxNews personality, has devised a three-point strategy that enables him towidely disseminate the old "blame theJews" meme without being dismissed as an anti-Semitic crackpot.

The first part of thestrategy is never to blame the Jews as Jews. Beck focuses on individualJews, one after another, as the source of America's misfortunes but carefullyavoids references to Jews as a group.

The second is thatwhen he does discuss "the Jews" per se, he emphasizes that he himself isn'tblaming them for anything but that unnamed others do. He is just offering afriendly warning to Jews to watch their backs.

The third is that he loudlyprofesses his "love for Israel" which, to the gullible, means that he could notpossibly be anti-Semitic. (Jewish neoconservatives, in particular, tend to courtthe friendship of anyone who claims the mantle of "pro-Israel," no matter whatthat person thinks about Jews.)

But many Jews, andothers familiar with anti-Semitic tropes and themes, see right through Beck'scarefully constructed edifice of innocence. Writer Michelle Goldberg explainedBeck's tactics in a blockbuster article in the Daily Beast in which shewrote that Beck's repeated references to Jews constitute "a symphony ofanti-Semitic dog-whistles."

According to Goldberg,receptive ears will understand who he is describing when he talks about aliberal elite which runs a "shadow government" that, in Goldberg's words,"manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment." When he says thatgroup are simultaneously bankers and Marxists, and says they have madePresident Obama "their puppet," his audience will know what he means.

Late last month,Glenn Beck lost his daily gig on Fox News. His ratings were sliding and his advertisersfled once they were apprised of the rancid ideas they were underwriting. Detailsof Beck's new internet video venture aren't yet clear, but he has already announcedthat he will kick off Beck II at a massive rally in Jerusalem on August 24.

On Monday, Beck beganhis advance work for the rally with a visit to the Knesset, where he was hostedby a far-right parliamentarian and mobbed by a crowd of settlers and otherright-wing activists. (It is worth noting that Beck exchanged friendlygreetings with Baruch Marzel,the former head of KahaneChai, an outfit on the State Department's list of terrorist organizationsand a man well known for his involvement in inciting violence.) Beck put outhis usual claptrap, likening himself to great biblical figures while demonstratinghis profound ignorance of Jews.

Perhaps Beck's mostoffensive moment in a day of egregious offensiveness was what some would characterizeas a threat against American Jews.

After telling hisaudience at a Knesset committee that anti-Semitism is "going through the roof" inthe United States, he declared that "the United States has aneconomic problem and the Jews will be blamed." Note the passive tense. Beckwon't blame the Jews, but they "will be blamed."

It is not hard todiscern what Beck is really saying when one looks back at his attacks on Jews overthe past few years. Back in January, Atlantic columnist Jeff Goldbergwrote about Beck's "Jewish problem." Goldberg, like any writer onBeck and the Jews, had too much evidence to work with so he decided to go withjust one example. He wrote:

This is not...a postabout Beck's singular obsession with George Soros. ... This is a post about Beck'srecent naming of nine people — eight of them Jews — as enemies of America andhumanity. He calls these people prime contributors to the — wait for it —"era of the big lie."

The particular Beck installment to whichGoldberg alluded revealed as much about Beck's attitudes toward Jews as anythinghe has ever said publicly. He listed the nine people — an "intelligentminority" — who infected the 20 century with the view that themasses are "animals" who can be controlled through propaganda. According to Media Matters, Beck named AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, as well as:

  • Propagandist and ad man Edward Bernays, who revolutionized 20th century public relations.
  • Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, who was Bernays' uncle and influenced his method.
  • George Soros, who Beck claimed shared Freud and Bernays' philosophy that people are "animals" who can be "experimented with."
  • Cass Sunstein, who Beck insisted "is Edward Bernays" and has called "the most dangerous man in America."
  • Former SEIU president Andy Stern, who Beck said is part of a self-proclaimed "intelligent minority" of powerful men trying to manipulate the "bewildered herd" of America.
  • Walter Lippman, a prominent columnist of the mid-20th century, who Beck accused of viewing government "as a way to control people."
  • Frances Fox Piven, professor at CUNY, who Beck accused of "sowing the seeds" of revolution.
  • Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, who Beck said thinks of himself as "one of the elites that are there to guide the herd."

Of the nine, Trumka is the only non-Jew; the other eight are Jews. Otherthan their ethnic backgrounds, the Beck 8 have little in common. Ed Rendell andSigmund Freud? Andy Stern and Walter Lippmann?

How can anyone, other than someone with a real hang-up about Jews, produce alist of the people who epitomize the "era of the big lie" and come upwith this list of American Jewish writers, college professors, labor leadersand a governor of Pennsylvania! I mean, think of the some of the 20 century's monstrously criminal liars...

The people and government of Israel need to understand what Glenn Beck istrying to do. He is using them as a disinfectant to cleanse him of the stink ofanti-Semitism, racism, and proto-fascism. Without Israel, Beck is just anotherright-wing bigot and crackpot. But with it, he becomes almost legitimate and sodoes the dangerous and ugly portrayal of Jews that has become his trademark.

Beck is treif (unkosher). His very presence defiles.

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