Rabbis petition Murdoch to crack down on Fox’s Holocaust references

January 27, 2011

Hundreds of American rabbis used Holocaust Remembrance Day last month to push media mogul Rupert Murdoch to "sanction" Glenn Beck and other Fox News personalities on the use of Nazi and Holocaust references.

The "Sanction Glenn Beck" letter on January 27 responds to Beck's three-part series last November on billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros, whom Beck smeared as a "Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps."

Fox News chief Roger Ailes has dismissed the critics as "left-wing rabbis who basically don't think that anybody can ever use the word 'Holocaust' on the air."

Mik Moore, chief strategic officer of Jewish Funds for Justice, said his nonprofit group organized the response over the past two months, prompted by "a lot of calls from rabbis expressing their outrage."

The coalition, which also objected to Ailes's use of the term Nazis in describing the NPR executives who fired Fox News commentator Juan Williams, wants an apology from Ailes and action taken against Beck.

"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," stated the letter in reference to Soros; the letter ran in a full-page ad in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal.

"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."

Joel Cheatwood, Fox News senior vice president of development, told the Reuters news agency that the group of rabbis is a "George Soros–backed left-wing political organization that has been trying to engage Glenn Beck primarily for publicity purposes."

The rabbis span the political and religious spectrum, though only a handful represent the Orthodox Jewish community. Charitable donations from Soros have helped fund some Jewish Funds for Justice youth programs, Moore said, but Soros himself was not involved in this response.

"If [Cheatwood] wants to be that dismissive of 400-plus rabbis, that's his call," Moore said, adding that "at a time when much of the country, including many public voices, is doing some soul-searching about the post-Tucson conversation, it doesn't feel like that's happening at Fox News."

The United Nations established Jan­uary 27 as International Holocaust Re­mem­brance Day in 2005, marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Jews also mourn the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah, an observance that falls on May 2 this year.  —RNS