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Foxman on Beck: ‘Bigoted Ignorance’

Demands apology for Fox News host’s comments

Marc Tracy
February 23, 2011
Abraham Foxman (L) and Silvio Berlusconi (but never mind that) last year.(Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)
Abraham Foxman (L) and Silvio Berlusconi (but never mind that) last year.(Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

Last time Glenn Beck said objectionable things about Jews, Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, for the most part defended him. “People involved in global finance have been called all kinds of things,” he told me of Beck’s argument that Soros was seeking to control the world financial system. More broadly, Foxman more or less dismissed Beck’s “insensitive remarks” on the grounds that he is “a friend of the Jewish people, and a friend of Israel.” Which is why, earlier today, I concluded my post on Beck’s latest outburst—in which he compared Reform Judaism to “radicalized Islam,” saying both are primarily about politics, not faith—with the sarcastic quip, “I’m sure Abe Foxman won’t be on the case in no time.”

Well, credit where it’s due, I stand corrected, etc. In a statement today, Foxman accused Beck of “bigoted ignorance” and said he should apologize to the Reform movement:

Glenn Beck’s comparison of Reform Judaism to radical Islam demonstrates his bigoted ignorance. Despite his feeble attempt to suggest that he was not equating Reform Judaism with Islamic extremist terrorism, the simple fact that he would mention them in the same breath is highly offensive and outrageous.

The truth is that every religious body has political points of view, whether one agrees with them or not. To compare Reform Judaism, which supports democratic institutions, to Islamic extremism, which supports anti-democratic movements and the repression of basic rights—including, for example, the denial of women’s rights—is beyond the pale.

Glenn Beck has no business discounting the faith of any people, and he should think twice before commenting on something he doesn’t know much about. He owes the Reform movement an apology.

Don’t think I can’t still quibble—Foxman appears, to me, to be more offended by the comparison to Islamism (which Beck himself limited in the course of his making it) than anything else. Still, the concise term “bigoted ignorance” actually manages to capture the quote nicely—the willed know-nothingness tinged with fear of Jews. All in all, a good day’s work for Foxman.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.