L’shon ha-ra (“evil tongue”)—malicious gossip
I would have written about this story sooner, but only learned about it after managing to catch up with my Rush podcasts today.
Late last week Rush Limbaugh was accused of anti-Semitism by the ADL and subsequently defended by two Jewish conservatives. The story begins last Wednesday (Jan. 20), when Rush was talking about Norman Podhoretz’s new book Why Are Jews Liberal? Like Podhoretz, a right-leaning Jew, Rush was wondering why Jews still overwhelmingly vote Democrat when their policies are so contrary to their values (a premise with which I, also a right-leaning Jew, also believe to be valid). Rush also wondered whether Jewish Americans, 78% of whom voted for Obama, were especially experiencing buyer’s remorse, considering demonstrable evidence that the man and his closest connections are virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
Then Rush made this observation about Obama and his administration’s demonization of the banks. (Certain words are highlighted that will have significance later in this post):
Look, folks, there are a lot of people who when you say “banker,” people think “Jewish.” People who have prejudice is the best way to put it. They have a little prejudice about them. So for some people, “banker” is code word for “Jewish,” and guess who Obama’s assaulting? He’s assaulting bankers. He’s assaulting money people, and a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there’s starting to be some buyer’s remorse there. Anyway, if you have often asked that question — if you’ve been puzzled by so many Jewish people voting liberal, voting Democrat — give Norman’s book a shout.
Sounds like the words of a raving Jew-hater, huh? Not quite. On the contrary, when I heard this, I thought Rush made a completely valid point: Obama’s been going after the bankers, and a lot of bankers are Jewish. He’s also been attacking the health care industry, including doctors, and lots of physicians are Jews. You would think if so many Jewish Americans are having their professions attacked and their livelihood threathened by the very man they voted for, you’d expect some buyer’s remorse! That was the point of Rush’s monologue; that’s how I took it and I can’t even imagine how anyone could interpret it otherwise. In fact, if I heard this show live—It was about two days after when I finally listened to the podcast—I would have called into the show to talk about the frustrations of Jewish conservatives such as myself.
But someone did interpret this as something else. Abe Foxman at the Anti-Defamation League accused Rush of anti-Semitism!
Did you notice what the ADL did here? They omitted the first three sentences of Rush’s full quote (which I provide above) to make it look like he himself was making the bankers=Jews smear.
New York, NY, January 21, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said Rush Limbaugh reached a new low with “borderline anti-Semitic comments” on his radio show, in which he raised the possibility that liberal Jews were having “buyer’s remorse” with President Obama in light of the outcome of the Senate election in Massachusetts.
Limbaugh told his listeners: “To some people, banker is a code word for Jewish; and guess who Obama is assaulting? He’s assaulting bankers. He’s assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there’s – if there’s starting to be some buyer’s remorse there.”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Rush Limbaugh reached a new low with his borderline anti-Semitic comments about Jews as bankers, their supposed influence on Wall Street, and how they vote.
Limbaugh’s references to Jews and money in a discussion of Massachusetts politics were offensive and inappropriate. While the age-old stereotype about Jews and money has a long and sordid history, it also remains one of the main pillars of anti-Semitism and is widely accepted by many Americans. His notion that Jews vote based on their religion, rather than on their interests as Americans, plays into the hands of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.
When he comes to understand why his words were so offensive and unacceptable, Limbaugh should apologize.
How in G0d’s name could Foxman have interpreted any of Rush’s comments as anti-Semitic? If anything, he was defending Jewish Americans against Obama and against genuine anti-Semites who make hateful smears against Jews by calling them “bankers” or “money-changers.” It is a typical meme among the anti-Semitic that Jews run the country/world by controlling the banks. Anybody who has listened to Rush Limbaugh as regularly as I do will know that he never expressed such views as his own. Yet somehow, Foxman takes words that Rush as distinctly attributing to other people and makes them his own. That is low, and it is slanderous.
Immediately following Foxman’s statement, two Jewish conservatives leapt to Rush’s defense: Norman Podhoretz himself and columnist Michael Ledeen:
In my new book, “Why Are Jews Liberals?”, I argue that it no longer makes any sense for so many of my fellow Jews to go on aligning themselves with the forces of the Left. I also try to show that our interests and our ideals, both as Americans and as Jews, have come in recent decades to be better served by the forces of the Right. In the course of describing and agreeing with the book the other day, Rush Limbaugh cited a few of the numerous reasons for the widespread puzzlement over the persistence of liberalism within the American Jewish community. And while discussing those reasons, he pointed to the undeniable fact that for “a lot of people”—prejudiced people, as he called them twice—the words “banker” and “Wall Street” are code words for “Jewish.” Was it possible, he wondered, that Obama’s attacks on bankers and Wall Street were triggering a certain amount of buyer’s remorse within the American Jewish community, which gave him 78% of its vote? Finally, taking off from my observation that many Jewish liberals like to call themselves independents, he wondered whether a fair number of the self-described independents who deserted Obama and voted for Scott Brown might actually have been Jewish liberals. If so, he concluded, Brown’s “victory could be even more indicative of an even bigger change in the political temper of the country than has so far been recognized.” For this, Rush Limbaugh has been subjected to a vile attack by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Of course, Mr. Foxman has a long history of seeing an anti-Semite under every conservative bed while blinding himself to the blatant fact that anti-Semitism has largely been banished from the Right in the past forty years, and that it has found a hospitable new home on the Left, especially where Israel is concerned. This makes Foxman a perfect embodiment of the phenomenon I analyze in “Why Are Jews Liberals?” Now Foxman has the chutzpah to denounce Rush Limbaugh as an anti-Semite and to demand an apology from him to boot. Well, if an apology is owed here, it is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League who should apologize for the defamatory accusation of anti-Semitism that he himself has hurled against so loyal a friend of Israel as Rush Limbaugh.
* * * * *
Friday, January 22, 2010 | The Corner, NRO
Rush and the ADL
Norman Podhoretz quite properly takes Anti-Defamation League czar Abe Foxman to task for insinuating that Rush is somehow a Jew-hater for wondering if Jewish voters are having buyer’s remorse regarding Obama. They certainly should, both because of Obama’s striking nastiness to Israel and of his attacks on “greedy bankers” (which Rush mentioned), free broadcasting, and of course the crusade against American medicine, all enterprises in which Jews have long flourished. Rush should be a hero to Foxman and American Jews, but they are so blindly partisan that they can no longer distinguish between their friends and their enemies. Foxman has relentlessly attacked American Evangelicals — arguably the most pro-Jewish and pro-Israel people in America — but conveniently disappears when the government goes after real Jews for presumed “dual loyalty.” Which, one might say, is the core principle of the ADL. Foxman wants Rush to apologize. Nuts. I want Foxman retired and replaced by somebody who fights for Jews and our friends.
On Friday’s show, Rush mentioned Foxman’s statement and Podhoretz’s and Ledeen’s responses. He first requested that if any listener knew how to contact Foxman, that they should tell him to put on Rush’s show in the next few minutes. Then, after a commercial break, he said:
Now, anybody who listens to this program even marginally knows that this program is and has consistently been one of the most outspoken supporters of the Jewish people and of Israel in particular. And Mr. Foxman knows this as well. What I suspect is the usual thing that happened. Somebody took a few words that I said in a pretty long monologue, cut them up, and published them in a way to make it appear I said something that I didn’t say, and rather than check it out... And by now I would think anybody in the mainstream media or in any mainstream American endeavor, after 20 years of these types of attacks — me being taken out of context and every one of them being shown to be wrong, every one of these attacks being shown to be fallacious — I would think that by now some people would realize what’s going on. But I don’t think that they do. I think they want these attacks to be real. I think they want the out-of-context quotes to be real. It’s just like during this NFL controversy, when there were purely fabricated quotes of me that were plastered all over the American media: newspapers, websites, television. …
Mr. Foxman, if you really want to go after anti-Semitism you should first start looking at it on the left and within the Obama administration and within his circle of friends, because that’s why you’re going to find it. You’re not going to find anti-Semitism on this radio show. You’re going to find nothing but love and respect and admiration for the Jewish people and an unwavering support for Israel that has not ever shaken. I was referring to the Jew haters, the bigots. Twice I referred to “prejudiced people.” …
That’s what the Democrat Party has become: A coalition of all these disparate groups — the civil rights coalitions, the animal rights groups, feminism, the Hollywood left, all this stuff — and they all have one mission, and that is they hate conservatives and Republicans and they love government, and they have big problems with capitalism. So they’re all united in trying to destroy capitalism — or limit it, or blame it — and make America more like a Western European, socialist democracy. Anyway, thanks to Mr. Podhoretz for his reply, also to Michael Ledeen. But Mr. Foxman, not only am I not going to apologize, I’m going to say you should be embarrassed and next time call me if you think I’ve said something anti-Semitic or call somebody that knows me and find out what I actually said rather than trusting your friends on the left to accurately report what I said. I was in the midst of promoting, because I think it was worthwhile, the work of a celebrated and brilliant American Jew: Norman Podhoretz, and you refer to me as “borderline anti-Semitic.” That doesn’t compute, Mr. Foxman.
What a crying shame it is that Rush even has to waste time on his show rehashing these events and defend/clarify himself.
Now, all this transpired between last Wednesday and Friday, but I didn’t even hear about it until today (Monday) while catching up with Rush’s podcasts. The weekend turned out to be so busy I didn’t even catch wind of the story on-line. Had I been listening to either Wednesday’s or Friday’s show live, I would have definitely called in to agree with Rush’s original point, and to lend my voice to his defense against this disingenuous accusation of anti-Semitism.
So far, Foxman has not responded to Rush’s counterargument, and he probably won’t. Like Ledeen says, he looks for anti-Semitism underneath every rock and therefore waters down the notion anti-Semitism so much that one no longer is able to distinguish imagined instances of bigotry with authentic ones. And who suffers mostly from that grave mistake? Jews.
To add insult to injury, left-wing sites are siding with Abe Foxman, apparently not even concerned with Rush’s actual statements and intentions. This is what the Left does: Jump on every tiny phrase and take it out of context to fit their preconceived notion that Rush Limbaugh is a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic homophobe. At the lefty Talking Points Memo blog, a very uninformed contributor named M.J. Rosenberg writes:
Podhoretz: Limbaugh Can't Be An Anti-Semite, He's Pro-Israel
By M.J. Rosenberg - January 22, 2010, 8:18PM
Well, at least there is some good news this week.
Rush Limbaugh is clearly stung by the accusations that he is an anti-semite. This is after he employed the old National Socialist canard that Jews and bankers are one and the same.
I have no doubt that racist Rush is a Jew hater. Racists of the Limbaugh stripe invariably despise Jews. But Rush surely could care less what liberals like me think.
He does care what Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League thinks and when he calls Rush an anti-semite, Rush gets worried.
He is so worried that he apparently called on the founder of neoconservativism, the father of John Podhoretz and father-in-law of Elliot Abrams to defend him against the liberal Jews. …
And this is what my liberal friends consider a reliable and intelligent news analysis site. Is there anything in this excerpt that has a morsel of truth in it? Hardly. First, Rush did not employ “the old National Socialist canard that Jews and bankers are one and the same.”; he was criticizing other, bigoted people who use it.
Second, of course Rosenberg has “no doubt that racist Rush is a Jew hater.” Rosenberg has presumably never listened to Rush before; like so many others who dislike him or have slandered him in the public arena get their offensive “sound bites” after they have been filtered through unreliable sources who have doctored, cherry-picked, or completely fabricated them. It’s called l’shon ha-ra (“evil tongue”)—malicious gossip.
Third, how the heck does this Rosenberg know that Rush called Norman Podhoretz and asked him to defend him? He doesn’t, nor is there any indication of it. So not only does Rosenberg slander Rush in this diatribe, but Podhoretz as well.
Finally, Rosenberg rejects Podhoretz’s defense as legitimate by focusing on only one of his arguments, namely that Rush is a staunch friend of Israel. That, of course, was not the sole argument made by Podhoretz, but by manipulating it to appear that way, Rosenberg artificially turns Podhoretz’s defense into a house of cards. Shameful.
At a Jewish e-zine called Tablet, some genius named Marc Tracy (presumably also Jewish?) presents this shallow analysis:
Podhoretz Defends Limbaugh from ADL Accusation
It’s an anti-Semitism round robin!
... So, to recap:
Limbaugh to Obama: You’re an anti-Semite!
Foxman to Limbaugh: No, you’re the anti-Semite!
Podhoretz to Foxman: No, the anti-Semites are on the left! Besides, Limbaugh likes Israel, which means he cannot possibly be an anti-Semite!
This has been productive!
One thing that has not been productive is the time spent reading Tracy’s unenlightened “analysis” of the issue.
This is yet another disgusting and fallacious smear of one of the Left’s most threatening enemies. And, from my standpoint, I find it even more disgusting when it’s carried out by fellow Jews. There is real anti-Semitism out there, and a lot of it—nay, most of it—occurs on the Left, including some of Barack Obama’s closest connections.
Where is Abe Foxman and the ADL with them?