Yesterday I joined a large crowd at Safra Square, the site of the Jerusalem Municipality, for the public viewing of Glenn Beck’s live broadcast in the nearby Old City of Jerusalem.
Although I know very little about either the personal or professional background of Glenn Beck, his recent involvement with Israel has brought him into my orbit. For the last few months I’ve heard the various accusations and warnings from all corners of the Jewish world – for some he’s a right-wing extremist and fascist while for others his strong Mormon beliefs arouse suspicion.
With these thoughts on my mind I decided, following Dudu Fisher’s stirring rendition of Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah”, to just sit back and hear the man talk. As it turns out, I wasn’t disappointed.
For starters, the claims that the man is an extremist or fascist regarding his views on Israel are absolute nonsense. It was obvious to anyone who was there yesterday that the man was just speaking the clear, direct and honest truth. Having said that, in a world that has been heavily influenced by a biased and skewed projection of Israel in large sections of both the mainstream western media and the academic world, and where hypocrisy rules the day as Israel is routinely singled out and condemned by the international community, it should come as no surprise that Beck’s words concerning Israel are difficult for certain people to digest.
Regarding the second apprehension, although I don’t claim in any way to be a psychologist it seemed clear to me that his concern for Israel and the Jewish people is genuine and not part of some ulterior religious mission.
As the secular Israeli teenagers sitting behind me repeatedly shouted “ha-ish gadol!” (“the man is great!”), I kept thinking to myself “why don’t we have any Jewish leaders that speak this way?”
With these thoughts still fresh in my mind, I was forwarded this morning an article called The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror from the blog of Larry Derfner, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. Already known as a far left-wing columnist, in this article Derfner simply went over the edge.
Never mind his preoccupation with the so-called Israeli “occupation”. This is nothing new, even if I don’t agree with him or anyone else on this issue. In fact, I actually welcome opposing views and I’m always happy to discuss the issues. Derfner, however, does the unthinkable, taking his beliefs to another level in order to justify the Arab murder of Israelis. He writes:
“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile their ideology was, they were justified to attack. They had the same right to fight for their freedom as any other unfree nation in history ever had.”
Such statements, even from a hard-core Israeli leftist, are quite shocking. In comparison Yossi Sarid, the former leader of the far-left political party Meretz and harsh critic of Israeli presence in Yesha, never advocated Arab violence against Jews and only supported active civil revolt against what he considered the illegal Israeli occupation. Or even former prime minister and current defense minister Ehud Barak, who made the supremely foolish and irresponsible statement during a 1998 interview – “If I were a Palestinian at the right age, I would have joined one of the terrorist organizations at a certain stage” – never actually condoned the Arab murder of Israelis.
Thus Derfner’s comments are both shocking and disturbing. But in a world turned upside down it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Glenn Beck, the non-Jew, is criticized by some Jews for being too pro-Israel while Larry Derfner, the Jew, writes for a mainstream Jewish newspaper despite the fact that he condones the Arab murder of Jews.