Jewish Journal


November 11, 2010

Glenn Beck and the Jews: He Doesn’t Get It



“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 … Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice. I mean, he’s 14 years old. He was surviving. So I’m not making a judgment. That’s between him and God. As a 14-year-old boy, I don’t know what you would do.”

George Soros is—many people would call him an anti-Semite. I will not. I don’t know enough about all of his positions on Jews… He’s also an atheist.”
– TV and radio host Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck’s description of George Soros’ actions during the Holocaust is completely inappropriate, offensive and over the top.  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. – ADL statement
I don’t know how well Glenn Beck knows the organized Jewish community, but he definitely has a Jewish problem. This week he gratuitously slandered a prominent Jewish philanthropist in probably the worst way that you can slander a Holocaust survivor, and many Jewish leaders are justifiably outraged. The ADL and the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants have denounced Beck’s comments, which are presented in a negative light in every Jewish news source that has run the story. As a Mormon who has worked for years to promote LDS-Jewish relations worldwide, I have a few words of advice for my coreligionist.

First of all, know your limits vis-à-vis Jews. It’s almost always a bad idea for a Gentile to call a Jew an anti-Semite. You can criticize Soros’s politics and organizations all you want, but lay off the references to his ethnicity. Believe me, every Jewish reader sees through your “they-say-he’s-an-anti-Semite-but-I’m-not-sure” nonsense. If I were to write something like “They say Glenn still drinks and does drugs and may even beat his wife, but I don’t know enough about his home life to judge,” I don’t think too many of your fans would give me a pass. By the way, many Jews are atheists, and their unbelief doesn’t affect their membership in the tribe.

It’s an even worse idea to invoke the Holocaust inappropriately, which you continue to do (and have apologized for doing in the past). Accusing a Jewish Holocaust survivor of having been a teenage Nazi is simply inexcusable. To make matters even worse, your facts are wrong in this case. According to Ron Kampeas of the JTA (who has slightly more credibility on Jewish reporting than you), a young Soros on one occasion accompanied his non-Jewish protector (a necessity in a country where 2/3 of Jews were killed) when the Nazis ordered the man to inventory the estate of a Hungarian Jew who had fled. On another occasion, the local Jewish council ordered Soros to deliver letters to local Jewish lawyers. Soros’ father immediately realized that the letters were meant to inform them of their deportation, and he told his son to warn the targets to flee. He also ended the boy’s work with the council. No reasonable person could possibly think that the young Soros’s actions rose to the level of “helping send the Jews to the death camps.” This outrageous accusation clearly violates LDS moral teaching, which prohibits lying and slandering others. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Finally, traveling to Israel and making occasional pro-Israel remarks, while welcome, won’t protect you from Jewish outrage when you cross red lines. You simply don’t have enough bona fides in the Jewish community to get away with Holocaust exploitation and ad hominem attacks on prominent Jews. Your remarks were universally condemned in the Jewish press, and there is every reason to expect that your future statements on Jewish issues will receive heightened scrutiny (as they should). Everyone in the Jewish community knows that Soros is a completely secular Jew who does not identify himself closely with Israel or with most Jewish causes. However, he is still a Jew and a Holocaust survivor, and deserves better than to be labeled a former Nazi by a non-Jewish pundit who has never lived abroad, has never lived in a country that has been invaded, has never been the target of a genocidal campaign, and has minimal contact with the organized Jewish community. You can make all of the pro-Israel statements you like, but Jews also pay attention to how you treat individual Jews.


The Jewish leaders’ reactions say to me that they’re not convinced that Beck really loves Jews, which should be a cause of great concern to him if he cares at all how he is perceived by the Jewish community. I think Jews have reason to be skeptical of Beck, and I hope they keep his feet to the fire. In the spirit of Glenn, let’s just say that while some people might say he’s an anti-Semite, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that sometimes he acts like one.   


I will be speaking to Mormons and Jews at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City on January 12. I will also be making a joint presentation with Rabbi Alan Cohen in Kansas City on January 16.

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