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Bill Narvey

Open Reply to 400 Rabbis’ WSJ Open Letter Damning Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes and Fox News

By Bill Narvey, posted February 10, 2011

[Editor’s note: The following is a reply Bill Narvey sent to  the Rabbis who were the lead signatories of the Jan. 27, 2011  open letter in the Wall Street Journal.   If you share Narvey’s concerns with that open WSJ letter and my challenge to these Rabbis to come together on matters of concern that are of more immediate and pressing urgency to Jews and Israel, Narvey encourages you all to write to those Rabbis I have listed,  whose e mail addresses are provided and make your views known.]

Narvey’s letter below has been mentioned and quoted in an article by Jordana Horn in the Jerusalem Post this week. Click here to read it.

February 6th, 2011

Open Reply to 400 Rabbis’ WSJ Open Letter Damning Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes and Fox News


Jewish Funds For Justice - [email protected]

Rabbi Bradley Shavit  Artson, DHL   - American Jewish University -  Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair  E-mail: [email protected]

Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President  Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)  - [email protected]

Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College  [email protected]

Rabbi Daniel Nevins  Dean, Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School  [email protected]

Rabbi Yael Ridberg  President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association – E mail Not Found

Rabbi Steven Wernick  Executive Vice President  United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism [email protected]

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie President,  Union for Reform Judaism  [email protected]

Dear Rabbis:

Re:  Your  January 27th, 2011 Wall Street Journal Open  Public  Letter  to Rupert
        Murdoch Damning Fox News, Glenn Beck.  Roger Ailes and  Calling for their Heads

PDF  File of your open  WSJ  letter:

Who would have thought that with all the real grave challenges facing Jews, the memory of the Holocaust and Israel,  that  you and your fellow 400 Rabbis would see fit to take out a full page ad in the WSJ to go after  Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes and Fox News as if they were the enemy of Jews and the memory of the Holocaust?

Your primary accusation concerns Beck’s program about George Soros and specifically that part regarding Soros’ situation and his actions during the Holocaust.  Your secondary accusation is that Beck and Fox News call executives of other news agencies Nazis and that Fox has made “literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people” they disagree with.

To bolster your attack, you refer to several  people who took offence regarding Becks’ program on Soros, including Abe Foxman, who incidentally, has since denounced you for using his name in your letter and has further denied that Fox News is engaged in diminishing the significance of the Holocaust as you allege.

Rabbis,  I watch Fox News as I do other media channels.  I rely on my own judgment and not on what views you have in that regard or those views of others whom you cite. 
I can imagine that Beck could be faulted for failing to appreciate that the Holocaust forced some Jews to do whatever they could to survive and that it is unfair to judge George Soros, as a young 14 year old by  our current Western values for saying he feels  no guilt over what he did to survive during that dark time.

Indeed, that was my thought when I watched the subject Beck program.

That said, I simply could not have imagined anyone, Jew, Rabbi or non-Jew, thinking  Beck’s words regarding Soros,  diminished the memory of the Holocaust.  I also have not  heard Fox News use the term Nazi “hundreds of times” as you allege and certainly not in any context that would  in any way  diminish the significance of the Holocaust to Jews and the world.  

That however, is the  claimed offence you took  that moved you and your fellow Rabbis to raise reputedly $100,000.00 to have your enraged  open letter published in the WSJ,  calling for Beck’s and Ailes’ heads.

Now that you have done it, I needn’t waste time imagining the unimaginable. 

Again Rabbis, I will rely on my own good judgment and not on what you tell me, especially when what you say does not accord with the facts as I know them to be.

What I am left with is bewilderment and dismay that you have reacted as you have and done so in a  vindictive way that is unbecoming of Rabbis. 

By all accounts I have heard of and from Beck directly, whose program I sometimes watch,  Beck  shares the same disgust for the Holocaust that all Jews and good and decent non-Jews feel.   Add to that, Beck is a staunch advocate against anti-semitism and for Israel.    In fact, he speaks more loudly, forcefully, consistently, unequivocally and emphatically in that regard than a very great many Jews and very publically unlike a great many Rabbis.

Did you not know this of Beck? 

I wonder, do  any of you 400 Rabbis ever watch Beck or Fox News? 

I suspect not and further suspect that some, perhaps even some amongst you 400 Rabbis, harbor deep resentment, if not malice towards Beck, Ailes, Fox News or all three,  because Fox’s conservative political views do not accord with theirs and that they  convinced you that  Beck had offended Jews and demeaned the Holocaust as you allege and you went only with that.    

As to your offence taken by Ailes’s words, you state:

“We are rabbis of diverse political views…… we have vigorously defended the Holocaust’s legacy……….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.”  

Tell me Rabbis, what exactly offended you? 

Was it Ailes saying you were “left wing” Rabbis, that you  don’t think anyone should use the word Holocaust on the air, that Ailes’ words implied you have not defended the Holocaust legacy or all of these?
That you object to  Ailes’ suggesting you are against using the word Holocaust on the air,  is fair enough.
Taking from Ailes’ words however, an implied accusation that you do not defend the Holocaust legacy,  I don’t  get at all.  Ailes was not addressing  that matter.

That leaves Ailes’ characterizing you as left wing Rabbis.  You deny it by stating  you are Rabbis holding diverse political views.

Really?   Sorry Rabbis.  That does not  cut it. 

Many Rabbis from the Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism denominations, by  their  public advocacy/activism,  have been characterized as left wing by many Jews.  Ailes said nothing more than that, though perhaps not all who signed onto your open letter are left wingers.   

All but one Rabbi noted as lead signatories to your WSJ  open letter,  are from the Reform and Reconstructionist movements.  That Rabbi’s  affiliation with Conservative Judaism, speaks only to his denomination, but not to his political views, which are hinted at by his having agreed to be one of the lead signatories to your open letter.

It also cannot go unnoticed that you Rabbis have all risen to defend George Soros, a man who by his words and deeds is generally known as  both very  left wing and anti-Israel.

Your anger  with Fox News  incidentally,  mirrors the same visceral anger and resentment many on the left, be they Jew, Rabbi  and non-Jew  are quick to express whenever the names Beck, Fox News or some other Fox News pundit,  comes up.   

The diverse political views you claim to have would, subject to your offer of proof to the contrary,  suggest the only diversity in your political views is within the parameters of left wing political thought.

To conclude this part of my letter, if Ailes  mischaracterized your views  regarding using the word Holocaust on the air, he is at most guilty of a mis-speak.   That hardly warrants the obvious  seething  anger and resentment you express towards Beck, Ailes and Fox News. 

That you would choose to target Beck, Aisles and Fox News as you have,  is unbecoming  of you as our Rabbis and leaders from whom we expect better.  Much better!

There is however, one final important issue I am raising with you.

We Jews and Israel  deserve your attention, energies and leadership in the fields of  advocacy/activism to unite, lead and enable all Jews to meet and defeat so many grave challenges  that confront us and Israel.  To generally cite just some of those existential challenges:

1.         All facets and consequences of assimilation;

2.         Anti-Israel advocacy/activism, often  anti-semitic , not only by much of the Muslim world, including Palestinian society and Jew hater and Holocaust denier,  Ahmadinejad who has been given a forum at the UN and Columbia University, but by the global BDS movement and many organizations, mostly Muslim and left wing  on our North American campuses that vilify Israel as being an apartheid and Nazi state and in many cases,  specifically  diminishes the significance of the Holocaust or denies it altogether;

3.         The United Nations and its many agencies  which by resolutions, inquiries, reports  or just public statements,  have proven their anti-semitic credentials;  

4.         Terrorism by Palestinians and Hezbollah against innocent Israelis;

5.         Some Western leaders  buying into Palestinian-Arab- anti-Israel revisionist narratives/history in the belief it furthers their own interests, singularly blaming Israel for lack of peace and pressuring Israel to make concessions while giving a pass to Palestinians for all their broken promises and intractable Jew/Israel hatred and rejection;

6.         Claims by some Western leaders, including Obama’s administration  that the unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of Muslim terrorism, Middle East discord and costs Western blood and treasure, which claims long suspected of being lies, were proved such by the recent Wikileaks revelations. 

Compared to these very real existential threats Jews and Israel face,  your open WSJ letter  to Rupert Murdoch alleging offence being taken at Beck, Aisles and Fox News,  is shown to be exactly what it is -  a trifling, petty complaint and your show of outrage in that regard, is itself outrageous.

Let me ask you 400 Rabbis, when did you ever unite in such numbers to provide Jews with strong leadership and strong voice, including going to the huge expense of writing and publishing  angry open letters in the media against those people, organizations and leaders who pose very real, grave and existential threats to Jews and Israel as alluded to in the above list?

One final thought  for you 400 offended angry Rabbis.

I don’t give a damn about  your politics or that you appear to be left wing. 

I do give a damn when the foregoing very real and  grave existential  challenges facing Jews and Israel do not enrage and unite you in great numbers to lead the Jewish community to stand tall and firm against these threats.

I implore all of you to direct your outrage and energies to leading the Jewish community as a whole to stand up to and defeat the grave and existential threats that really matter and which  we Jews and Israel are confronted by daily! 


Bill Narvey

P.S.  Please forward my letter on to every one of the Rabbis who joined with you in your aforesaid open WSJ letter to Rupert Murdoch. 

Lest you think otherwise, my open reply is not nearly so much a defence of Fox News, as it is a call on all of you to come together to address the threats against Jews and Israel that are of greatest  import and concern.

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