Leaders of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Movements Sign Open Letter
New York-(ENEWSPF)- Hundreds of rabbis are taking News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch to task in an open letter to be published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal and the Forward, demanding that he sanction Fox News Host Glenn Beck for his repeated perversion of the memory of the Holocaust. The letter also demands an apology from Fox News Chief Roger Ailes for his characterization of Jewish critics as nothing more than “left-wing rabbis.”
The letter signed by rabbis from across the United States — including the heads of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements as well as prominent Orthodox rabbis – accuses Mr. Beck and Fox News Network head Roger Ailes of diminishing the memory and meaning of the Holocaust.
The letter states, “In the charged political climate in the current civic debate, much is tolerated, and much is ignored or dismissed. But you diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only ‘left-wing rabbis’ who think so.”
Mr. Beck’s three-day series defaming Holocaust survivor George Soros sparked the letter from rabbis. At that time, Mr. Beck claimed Mr. Soros survived the Holocaust as 14-year-old boy by collaborating with the Nazis to send other Jews to the death camps.
Mr. Beck said, that Mr. Soros “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. Here’s a Jewish boy helping send Jews to the death camps.”
Mr. Beck’s three-day attack on Mr. Soros was hardly the first time he has misused the Holocaust to incite viewers. The rabbis’ note Mr. Beck has made “literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom [Beck] disagree[s].” Beck routinely compares American leaders to Nazis, has likened his crusade against progressives to that of “Israeli Nazi Hunters,” and has said that putting the “common good” first leads to “death camps.”
In the face of mounting criticism by Jewish groups, Fox News chief Roger Ailes dismissed criticism of Mr. Beck in an interview with the Daily Beast as nothing more than “left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use the word ‘Holocaust’ on the air.”
The rabbis letter concludes with, “It is because this issue has a profound impact on each of us, our families and our communities that we are calling on Fox News to meet the standard it has set for itself: ‘to exercise the ultimate sensitivity when referencing the Holocaust.’ We respectfully request that Glenn Beck be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust and Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis’ sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air.”
The letter, which was organized by Jewish Funds for Justice, will be published on the same day as the United Nation’s observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, held annually on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
Among those signing the letter, Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said, “The ease at which Fox News routinely tramples upon the memory of the Holocaust and likens policies with which they disagree with to those of the Nazis is disturbing. After years in the news business, we hope Mr. Murdoch’s will not let his legacy be his complacency to Glenn Beck and Roger Ailes.”
Rabbi Felicia Sol, spiritual leader at Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun in New York City and a Jewish Funds for Justice board member, added, “The memory of the Shoah is sacred to Jews everywhere and those who were fortunate to survive that time period have earned the right to live out their days in peace and with pride. We call on Mr. Murdoch to stand up to Beck and Ailes and silence their hate-filled rhetoric for good.”
Mik Moore, the chief strategy officer for Jewish Funds for Justice who helped organize the letter, said, “In today’s post Tucson America, people expect our nation’s leaders and media personalities to stop vilifying those they disagree with. We must find more respectful ways to interact with one another and Fox News must be a part of these efforts to change our national discourse.”
Below please find the rabbis’ letter to Rupert Murdoch in its entirety:
January 27, 2011
Dear Mr. Murdoch:
We are rabbis of diverse political views. As part of our work we are devoted to preserving the memory of the Shoah, and to passing its lessons on to our future generations and to all humankind. All of us have vigorously defended the Holocaust’s legacy. We have worked to encourage the responsible invocation of its symbols as a powerful lesson for the future.
We were therefore deeply offended by Roger Ailes’ recent statement attributing the outrage over Glenn Beck’s use of Holocaust and Nazi images to "left-wing rabbis who basically don’t think that anybody can ever use the word, Holocaust, on the air."
In the charged political climate in the current civic debate, much is tolerated, and much is ignored or dismissed. But you diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only "left-wing rabbis" who think so.
Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, a child survivor of the Holocaust, described Beck’s attack on George Soros as "not only offensive, but horrific, over-the-top, and out-of-line." Commentary magazine said that "Beck’s denunciation of him [Soros] is marred by ignorance and offensive innuendo." Elan Steinberg, vice president of The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, called Mr. Beck’s accusations "monstrous." Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, called them "beyond repugnant." And Deborah Lipstadt, professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University, says Beck is using traditional anti-Semitic imagery.
"I haven’t heard anything like this on television or radio — and I’ve been following this kind of stuff," Lipstadt said. "I’ve been in the sewers of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial more often than I’ve wanted."
We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News. It is not appropriate to accuse a 14-year old Jew hiding with a Christian family in Nazi-occupied Hungary of sending his people to death camps. It is not appropriate to call executives of another news agency "Nazis." And it is not appropriate to make literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom you disagree.
It is because this issue has a profound impact on each of us, our families and our communities that we are calling on Fox News to meet the standard it has set for itself: "to exercise the ultimate sensitivity when referencing the Holocaust."
We respectfully request that Glenn Beck be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust and Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis’ sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air.