A diverse group containing 400 rabbis has taken out a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal urging Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch to sanction host Glenn Beck and force a sincere apology from executive Roger Ailes for their uses of abusive Holocaust rhetoric.
The National Jewish Democratic Council applauds Jews United for Justice for bringing the effort together along with each individual rabbi who signed for courageously expressing their outrage at Fox News. NJDC joins their calls for sanctions against Beck and a sincere apology from Ailes.
As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable. We sincerely hope that the public outcry that has culminated with hundreds of rabbis expressing their disgust at Fox News will force a change in the network’s behavior. However, as Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show earlier this week, Fox News appears to be in denial about the prevalence of abusive Holocaust rhetoric among its employees.
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.
Lead supporters (organizational affiliation listed for purposes of identification only):
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Vice President, American Jewish University, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Dean, Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School
Rabbi Yael Ridberg, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Steven Wernick, Executive Vice President, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism