For such a small minority, it is amazing that Jews figure prominently on all sides of great economic and political debates. We’ve got Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Misses and Milton Friedman on the laissez-faire right; we’ve got Jewish neocons; we’ve got Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernancke at the Federal Reserve; and Bob Rubin and Larry Summers left over from the Clinton administration–with Robert Reich, also a Clinton alum, on their left flank. I’ve almost forgotten the left-liberal Nobel Prize-winning economists, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz. Then we’ve got the old-line Jewish banking families: Rothschild, Lehman, Goldman, Schiff, Warburg, Loeb and a few others–not to mention Jewish commies like Trotsky, Luxembourg and Marx (at least at his birth).
Since these Jews are of all colors (politically speaking), shouldn’t this refute Jewish conspiracy theorists? Instead, it likely reinforces antisemitic notions of Jews as all-powerful. And antisemitic tropes are again seeping into anti-Federal Reserve and anti-Wall Street attitudes.
Glenn Beck’s analysis is quite nutty and inadvertently borders on antisemitism (I believe it’s inadvertent). His attacks on the “demonic” influence of George Soros are truly idiotic, and his notion that this boyhood survivor of the Holocaust worked with the Nazis is outrageous. For one thing, Jewish collaborators were virtually all eventually murdered (it was just a matter of when for the Nazis). For another, what on earth could a mere boy do for them anyway?
Haaretz columnist Carlo Strenger has just posted a new piece on the Huffington Post that addresses right-wing populist conspiratorial thinking. While focusing upon Beck’s obsession with Soros, Strenger also touches upon other international manifestations, including Lieberman in Israel:
“…. Glenn Beck is telling America that there is a man about to bring down the world’s only Superpower, to undermine the United States of America. He will topple it, as he has toppled currencies and governments in the past. He is the puppet master who pulls all the strings. It is the foreign-born Jew George Soros.
“…. Beck’s claims veer between the ugly (Soros is really an anti-Semite who cooperated with the Nazis) and the incoherent: after showing a number of instances in which Soros was indeed active in undermining communist regimes through his Open Democracy network, Beck concludes that this is proof that Soros is now trying to undermine the US. Could it be that he missed the simple facts that Soros indeed tries to undermine autocratic regimes, and that his network is called ‘Open Society Network’? Or is Beck so busy trying to paint Soros as a dangerous alien that he just counts on his viewer’s ignorance about the difference between fighting for democracy and ‘undermining regimes’ in general?
“Beck’s targeting of Soros, whether knowingly or not, feeds on the most common tropes of anti-Semitism since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious anti-Semitic forgery from the beginning of the twentieth century. The Protocols depict Jews as a cosmopolitan network that controls the world; they don’t really belong anywhere, and that’s why they try to control the world by manipulating it. With an elegant sleight of hand, Beck avoids the anti-Semitism charge by standing it on its head, and accusing Soros of being an anti-Semite who stole Jewish property in WWII. Again, the question is whether this is a devilish sleight of hand, or whether Beck doesn’t see what he’s doing.
“Beck is riding on a sentiment that has served right-wingers in many countries: the humiliation caused by ignorance. There are indeed many, and not only in the US, who feel humiliated by the vast systemic forces that threaten their jobs and livelihood. They don’t quite understand what went wrong; they don’t really know what needs to be done.
“…. And they are taking it out on Barack Hussein Obama, even though he has averted a total meltdown of the economy and probably saved American capitalism. …
“Underlying this is what even the Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck don’t really feel comfortable saying: he’s black. And to top it, he has the chutzpah of being Harvard educated. He’s not one of ours, and hence he should not claim, as he does, that he is really the embodiment of the American dream. Like Soros, Obama is a foreign element. He’s too cosmopolitan; he’s too rationalist; he’s too cool. He doesn’t remind many Americans of themselves. They feel governed by an outsider.
“It must be emphasized, once again, that there is nothing original, and nothing particularly American about Beck’s tactics. Jean-Marie le Pen has made a long-standing political career for himself feeding on xenophobia in France; the late Joerg Haider did very well in Austria riding on the same sentiment; and Israel currently has Avigdor Lieberman, who is amassing political power by fanning hatred of Israel’s Arab citizens. …”