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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The real reason they hate Glenn Beck

Alex Joffe explains what so many Leftist Israelis and liberal American Jews have against Glenn Beck.
But it is the warning by Rachel Tabachnik in Haaretz that cuts to the heart of the matter. If Israel welcomes Beck, she says, "Israel's relationship with mainstream Jewish-Americans will suffer immense damage." By "mainstream," of course, she means liberal. Indeed, the warnings by all these commentators reveal more about liberal American (and Israeli) Jews than about Israel's general standing in America.

They are particularly tied up with attitudes toward Christianity, especially in its more conservative manifestations. To put it in a nutshell, the conservative social agenda strikes many liberal Jews (not to mention liberals in general) as a mortal threat to American society, which is to say the American society they have striven so hard to fashion in their own image. So entrenched in liberal American Jewish discourse are the fear and hatred of conservative and evangelical Christians that many speak as if the "fundamentalists" were Cossacks planning pogroms. In their view, only primitive and uneducated people can hold strong religious beliefs; in Beck's case, the lack of certified educational credentials is another sign of his mental deficiency.

When it comes to Israel, all this expresses itself in outbursts like the ones quoted above, cloaked in a pious concern for the position of Jews in general and indeed for the Jewish state. The fear, as expressed, is that Israel's actions will provoke a fatal alienation or create anti-Semitism in others. The worry, as expressed, is that if Israelis accept support from the "wrong people"—that is, religious and political conservatives—the sky will fall. Put more candidly, the real fear may be that a strong connection between "Beck" and Israel will damage the position of liberal Jews themselves with their own social class.

But that position is already damaged, in the sense that it is badly out of synch both with much of Israel and with much of America. As in many red states, Israelis value big families, vigorous self-defense, and a version of energetic capitalism, even as they ensure the rights of gays and worry over social inequality. Despite external threats and internal convulsions, Israeli unity and national pride remain strong. As it happens, these virtues are also key elements of the broader American ethos, and—not at all coincidentally—of the evangelical support for Israel to which Beck gives voice.

It is not hard to find fault with Glenn Beck, and in particular with his conspiratorial style. But reasoned criticism is one thing, and cries of anathema are something else—howls of a "progressive" class out of step with, and marching far behind, those it would lead into the light.
Read the whole thing.

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At 6:24 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

It's all about abortion. We're all China now.


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