By Steven Plaut
Jewish Press, September 2, 2011
Israeli radical leftists have long had an intense hatred for American conservatives, who are almost all pro-Israel. Actually, Israeli leftists hate American conservatives precisely because conservatives are pro-Israel. As is the case in most other countries, radical leftists in the Jewish state are anti-Israel in addition to being anti-American.
Israeli leftists insist that overseas supporters of Israel who are conservative should be shunned. Israeli leftists insist that Israel should only allow itself to be befriended by foreign leftists. Never mind that the search for pro-Israel foreign leftists is about as productive as the search for human life on other planets. The left outside of Israel is almost entirely anti-Israel, and foreign liberals are by and large (though not entirely) anti-Israel as well.
Israeli leftists want foreign pro-Israel conservatives to be regarded as personae non gratae by Israel. A few years back, Amiram Goldblum, a professor at Hebrew University and a founder of Peace Now, called upon Israeli officials to prevent American evangelical Christians from entering Israel. He objected to them because they are too pro-Israel. The Israeli left is outraged that Israeli cable TV carries Fox News, because it is pro-Israel. The anti-Israel BBC and CNN, however, are fine.
The most dramatic manifestation of the Israeli left’s hatred of pro-Israel foreign conservatives was evident in the severity of the Beckaphobia we’ve seen in recent days.
Glenn Beck was in Israel last week (he has been here a lot in recent months) for one purpose only – to support Israel. He is an outspoken and well-spoken American conservative. His political opinions are solidly conservative and you cannot listen to his recent speech in Jerusalem without being convinced of the sincerity of his love for Israel and solidarity with Jews. You might even be moved to tears (from his citing the Book of Ruth, for instance).
The Israeli left has been jihading like crazy against Beck. Yossi Sarid, the ex-head of the semi-Marxist Meretz party, crayoned an op-ed demonizing Beck (just recently Sarid published an op-ed in Haaretz claiming Israel fought the Six-Day War out of a Nazi-like quest for Lebensraum – his word). Sarid was joined by lots of left-wing Haaretz writers in Beck-bashing. And even the normally sensible Maariv editor Ben-Dror Yemini decided to gripe about Beck. Naturally, Peace Now denounced the decision to allow Beck into the country.
The leftists demanding that Beck be regarded as persona non grata are almost without exception the same people who protested when Israel denied inveterate Israel bashers Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomskyand Richard Falkentry into the country. The lesson is clear – the left’s mantra is really this: Israel, hate it or leave it.
Meanwhile, Israeli patriots loved Beck and many attended his rallies. Caroline Glick wrote in The Jerusalem Post:
Beck is rare, because he refuses to bow to the intellectual intimidation and group-think that plagues the discourse on Israel in Israel itself and throughout the world . Unlike the leftist public intellectuals such as New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman (may he rot in gehenim – jsk) who are celebrated and obsessively covered by the Israeli media, Beck exerts real influence on public opinion in the U.S.
His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the U.S. has such influence. It is highly significant that thousands of Beck’s supporters followed his call and came with him to Israel for a week to express their support for Israel and the Jewish people. It is similarly significant that millions more of his supporters followed his actions on Internet.
Beck, of course, is also the right-winger American left-wingers most love to hate. He is perhaps the only TV and radio personality who can upset the left even more than Rush Limbaugh does. But those who hate Beck, in almost all cases, also hate Israel. True, some liberal American Reform rabbis denounced Beck for criticizing George Soros, but if anything, Beck should carry their condemnation as a badge of valor.
Some American Jewish liberals squirm when Beck’s name is mentioned because they have a problem with Mormons. Give me a nice team of Mormons any day over liberal Jewish pseudo-clergypersons preaching that Judaism is really “social justice” and pursuing a liberal political agenda.
Mormons may invite you to join their faith and pray for you to do so. Liberal Reform rabbis often misrepresent Judaism and are guilty of chillul Hashem (sacrilege). I feel fine with the former. And I salute Glenn Beck.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.