At the ZOA Dinner, It's 1939 Again

Preaching to Choir, Glenn Beck Warns Group of Liberal Threat

Three Zionists Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, chats with Glenn Beck and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann at the group’s gala.
Naomi Zeveloff
Three Zionists Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, chats with Glenn Beck and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann at the group’s gala.

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published November 23, 2011, issue of December 02, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Midtown Manhattan was bustling with weekend traffic, pretzel vendors and tourists jamming the sidewalks, people from a panoply of ethnic groups and races jostling for space. But from the vantage point of the Hyatt Grand Hotel on 42nd Street, it was Germany in 1939. On the second floor of the hotel, former Fox news commentator Glenn Beck stood in front of a crowd of about 800 Jews and warned them of impending doom.

“It was said earlier tonight, a madman spoke in the 1930s and the world did not listen,” he said. “It is worse today, because madmen speak and the world hears, and it is aiding and abetting.”

Beck was the keynote speaker at the November 20 annual gala of the venerable Zionist Organization of America, a pro-Israel organization that is as hawkish as it is old. Wearing a teal-colored dress shirt, a bowtie and a pair of tortoiseshell glasses, Beck’s professorial appearance belied his preacher’s message: These are apocalyptic, anti-Zionist, Jew-hating times.

In Beck’s eyes, a force conspiring to “destroy Israel and the Western way of life” has wormed its way into the United States on the back of the global social protests, which spread from Tunisia to Egypt, to Europe and finally to New York in the form of Occupy Wall Street, whose members Beck compared to Nazi “brown shirts.” “We must not ignore it,” he said. “It is personal.”

“Someone asked me, ‘Why do you do this? Why is this so personal to you?’ I could give you 100 reasons,” Beck said. “The gift that I have received of standing with Israel, it has profoundly changed my life. It has fundamentally changed me as a person. It is a profound, profound gift.”

Beck’s “gift” was one shared by the 800 attendees, most of whom paid $550 a head to listen to Beck and several other luminaries — Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson — talk about what sets them apart on Israel.

With the exception of about 100 college students, the audience was mostly made up of middle-aged and elderly American Jews. Among the politicians present, there was nary a high-profile Democrat in sight. Senator Chuck Schumer, announced in pre-event publicity, was a no-show, and Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman — usually a stalwart presence at the ZOA’s annual gala — had ceded his spot at the table to Republican Bob Turner, who now occupies his seat in New York’s Congressional District 9.

Though there was a hint of friendly Zionist one-upmanship between Adelson and ZOA President Morton Klein, what bonded these two and the rest of the people in the room together was the sense that they understood something that the rest of the American Jewish establishment does not. “As much as we all want peace with the Arabs, Israel can survive and thrive without peace with the Arabs,” Klein said. “We have since 1948.” Still, Klein warned, Israel is facing a litany of threats: campus anti-Semitism, the Iranian nuclear program, President Obama and Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Soros, in fact, was the reason that Beck had been invited in the first place. Last year, Beck devoted two sessions of his Fox program to Soros — an early funder of dissident democratic movements in communist Eastern Europe, a funder of liberal American advocacy groups and political candidates and a significant contributor to dovish groups critical of Israeli policy, such as J Street. In the programs, Beck described Soros as a “puppet master” who had collapsed governments worldwide through his international financial machinations and as a teen-age collaborator with the Nazis in Hungary during World War II. The Anti-Defamation League and Commentary Magazine were among those who condemned Beck for the charges.

On another program, Beck highlighted individuals whom he described as the 20th century’s prime contributors to the “era of the Big Lie.” Of the nine Beck listed, eight — including Soros, Sigmund Freud, public relations icon Edward Bernays and former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell — were Jews.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.