Glenn Beck: Not antisemitic because he’s saber-rattling against Iran
I’m mostly content to ignore Glenn Beck these days; I think that a large part of his notoriety owes to tribalism on the left, and the obsessive need to have a clearly-defined Other. But in this case, Beck has careened past his usual incitements to violence and into full-on warmongering. And in the process, he’s resurrecting a narrative that pushed us to the brink of global war in 2007.
He’s back in the spotlight this week after a group of 400 Rabbis published a letter in the Wall Street Journal, demanding that Rupert Murdoch sanction Beck for his racially-charged smear campaign against George Soros. Beck responded to the ad yesterday on his radio show:
"Did you see the anti-Semitism dripping out of Rumors of War? It’s amazing how anti-Semitic I am, on the day that we release Rumors of War, that was a year in production.”
Rumors of War is a documentary on Iran and the Iranian nuclear program, produced by Beck and released earlier this week. It’s a slick rehash of the usual neoconservative saber-rattling about the urgent need for open conflict with Iran. The film hand-wrings about the country’s Shi’a Islamic leadership and their supposed obsession with the return of the 12th Imam, an event that sets off the Islamic Armageddon, Al-Malhama Al-Kubra. It’s also ridiculously paranoiac, reciting the usual falsehoods about Iran’s nuclear weapons program (for which there’s still no proof), the resultant “existential threat” to Israel, and how it’s only a matter of time before Iranian guerillas sneak a nuclear bomb across the Mexican border into the United States. Anti-immigration and Islamophobia’s dark marriage is consummated at last.
Note the title of the documentary, which is derived from the New Testament, Matthew 24:6 - And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. This is Matthew’s reference to the biblical eschaton, a warning that in the run-up to the Armageddon, we’ll start to see and hear about conflicts all over the world. This is a dog-whistle to Beck’s followers: He’s situating Israeli and U.S. opposition to Iran as part of the End Times narrative, which means an all-out war between Christianity and Islam.
And that’s the most poisonous part of all this, besides how Beck sidestepped the original issue entirely. For one, he’s arguing that being against the policies of the government of Israel is somehow the same as being anti-semitic, which is ridiculous on its face. But more importantly, he’s employing a toxic mix of imperialism and religion to tacitly endorse pre-emptive violence against Iran.
We came very close to war with Iran in 2007, and barring a seismic shift in U.S./Israeli foreign policy, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see the same drumbeat begin anew. Beck is the thought leader among conservatives, and for an audience of millions, he’s just set the tone for the coming debate.