The left-wing blogosphere is abuzz over a clip from Bill O'Reilly's radio show Tuesday night where he has some rather harsh, and hyperbolic, words about the Jewish left, basically stating that the Jewish left (first he says "liberals", then "far left") supports, or at least are apologists for, anti-American and anti-Israel terrorism. I've gotten some emails asking me to condemn O'Reilly. Well, the site that started the buzz provides zero context for O'Reilly's remarks; they have the audio clip of the specific remarks they are publicizing, but don't show what was said right before or right after. The lack of context makes me suspicious--if the remark is so outrageous in context, why not provide the context?
Lexis does have a transcript of his t.v. show from that night, in which he had a Jewish guest who led a protest in San Francisco against Israel's actions in Lebanon. We can at least be pretty confiden that O'Reilly's remarks were not an out of the blue attack on Jews, as one could potentially conclude from the Media Matters website circulating the clip.
[Here's the statement circulating on the internet: "You have a very big split in the Jewish-American community. You got a lot of Jewish liberals, a lot of Jewish far-left people, who basically feel that, you know, you don't have a right to go after terrorists because it's our fault, the United States' fault. And some say it's Israel's fault because we've been mean to them, therefore they have a right to do whatever they want -- behead people on camera, all this terrible stuff. OK? That's a far-left position."]
I'll withhold final judgment until someone gets me the complete transcript, and not just one paragraph taken out of context. It seems absurd to suggest that "Jewish liberals" are apologists for terrorism. But it seems to me that while O'Reilly first refers to "Jewish liberals", he then corrects himself and refers to the Jewish "far left." And while he paints with too broad a brush, it's undeniable that there are a few Jews [like their non-Jewish counterparts] on the far left who support anti-American and anti-Israel terrorism, and a greater number who are apologists for it. [Just look at Indymedia or antiwar.com some time.]
UPDATE: Thinking about this more, O'Reilly likely deserves criticism for hyperbole (to some extent, that is his schtick, no? and you can't expect every extemporaneous statement to be perfectly phrased), and he could have done a much better job at limiting his criticism explicitly to the far left. But, assuming this remark was in the context of a discussion of Jews who are protesting against Israel, it's hard to see this as an attack on "the Jewish left," as such, as opposed to left-wingers who are Jewish and are adopting the far left position on the Israel-Party of God War, when O'Reilly is supporting Israel. And this post has been edited to provide the text of O'Reilly's controversial remark, for clarity, and to avoid a side-debate over particular links.