On today's edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck asserted that “members of [President Obama's] administration ... openly deliver blatantly insensitive and highly out-of-line anti-Semitic comments.” Beck pointed to only one supposed anti-Semitic comment from one member of the Obama administration. And as it turns out, that comment in no way backs up Beck's outrageous smear.
Beck aired Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan's statement that “in all my travels, the city I have come to love most is Al Quds, Jerusalem.” Beck stated that Brennan was “using the Arabic term for Jerusalem, which kind of means to the Arab world that Jerusalem doesn't exist.” Beck also said: “Al Quds. That's a slam to anybody who is Jewish and lives in Israel.”
Beck did get one thing right: Al Quds is indeed “the Arabic term for Jerusalem.” But his claim that by using that term Brennan was engaging in anti-Semitism is pure hogwash. And it's not even new hogwash.
As we documented when Beck and others in the right-wing media freaked out about Brennan's remarks in May 2010, prominent political figures -- including current Israeli Minister of Defense and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak -- have referred to Jerusalem as “Al Quds.” So did Marshall J. Breger, President Ronald Reagan's liaison to the Jewish community.
In addition, a page on Bar-Ilan University's website states, “According to the historian Moshe Gil the current Arabic name for Jerusalem -- Al Quds, similar to the Hebrew HaQadosh -- 'the Holy' began being commonly used in the 11th century and even appears in Jewish documents found in the Cairo Geniza.”
So there's nothing to support Beck's charge that Obama administration officials are delivering “anti-Semitic comments.” (As an aside, it takes real chutzpah for Beck -- who has repeatedly promoted the work of anti-Semitic writers and used anti-Semitic stereotypes to smear George Soros -- to throw around charges of anti-Semitism.)
One would hope that a news organization would not let its hosts make an accusation of anti-Semitism against public officials unless there was some actual evidence of anti-Semitism. But this is Fox News and Glenn Beck we're talking about.
Beck also finds it notable that Obama has spoken out against Israeli settlement construction and said that Obama told “the U.N. that he does not accept the legitimacy of the settlements.” But this does not show that the Obama administration is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Indeed, in a Middle East Policy Council essay, Princeton Middle Eastern Policy Studies professor Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, wrote: “Every U.S. administration since 1967 has argued strongly against Israeli settlement activity.”
Furthermore, Obama has never voted to condemn Israel at the United Nations. By contrast, the Reagan administration did vote in favor of a U.N. resolution condemning Israel.