Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Half Truths from Mr. Glenn Beck

Firstly, as I have said before, I am all in favor of the defense of Israel from those neo-Nazi forces around it that seek it destruction. What I am opposed to is the distortion of historical truth to further that agenda. Mr. Glenn Beck has once again proven himself guilty on this account.

On last night’s show Mr. Glenn Beck has engaged in a bit of historical distortion in one of his narrations. He seems most adept at this practice of only telling part of a story and distorting other parts of it in order to craft his narrative. He and his audience would be better served by the whole story not just snippets crafted to allegedly fit “time restraints” or more likely, his personal agenda.

In this case he portrayed King Antiochus Epiphanes as a Syrian, which he was not. He was in fact a Greek; more specifically a Seleucid Greek, who had an ongoing conflict with the Ptolemaic Greeks of Egypt over the control of Judea. Neither did he mention the context that the greatest conflict the Jews of the time faced was not about which of these Greek power centers would control Judea, but rather a struggle amongst themselves as to how much Hellenistic (Greek) culture would, could or should be intertwined with their own. It was out of this conflict that the anti-Hellenizers, the Hasideans grew.

While the Jews felt it was enough that they marched in his armies and paid taxes and tribute to the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes felt that only by thoroughly Hellenizing all of the peoples of his kingdom could he create the unity necessary to take on the Ptolemaists. Only problem was when he marched into Egypt he ran smack into the Roman Legions now occupying it. During the conflict the Jews heard a rumor that Antiochus Epiphanes had been killed and immediately set to removing all the Greek statuary from there Temples and Holy sites.

Except Antiochus Epiphanes was in fact not dead. Retreating from Egypt, angry and humiliated, and entering Judea to see what had been done in his absence, it was then in a pique of anger and humiliation that he instituted his policies of inviting pagans to move into Jerusalem and banned the practice of circumcision.

Neither did Mr. Beck mention that it was out of the ensuing 25 years of war that the Hasideans were renewed and finally defeated those elements within Jewish society that were in favor of Hellenization, but also the rise of the Maccabees, literally the “hammer” that repeatedly smashed Antiochus Epiphanes’s armies and eventually secured not just peace with the Seleucid Kingdom, but the full independence of Judea from the Greeks.

So then I can only conclude that Mr. Beck cannot or will not see that the use of truncated and distorted narratives of an otherwise true story are a disservice to his audience but opens up the pathways of criticism for himself and any of his audience who might repeat his distortion as fact. But then I guess credibility is not the issue, stirring the pot is the issue. Mr. Beck has so often stated that “the truth has no agenda” one has to wonder why he leaves so much of it out of his stories.

For anyone looking for a clear (and secular) narrative of Jewish history I would refer them to “Jews, God and History” by Max I. Dimont.

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