Breitbart not only carved out a new mixture of investigative journalism, combining the mediums of video and the microblogging website Twitter with huge scoops, he was slated to start a Big Jerusalem website to fight the seemingly endless mainstream media distortions of the Jewish state.
Adopted by a Jewish family in Los Angeles, Breitbart equated the preservation of liberty and freedom in the US with safeguarding liberties and security in the Jewish state. “Israel is in the right” and “If Israel goes, so will America,” he said during a lively speech last year at a meeting of Republican Jewish Coalition in Beverly Hills.
In this speech, Breitbart said of Israelis: “I just don’t understand how an inherently decent and free people could be the bad guy… This doesn’t make sense to me…
I’m glad I’ve become a journalist because I’d like to fight on behalf on the Israeli people…I’ve been there. And the Israeli people, I adore and I love.”
I asked Breitbart’s colleague Joel B. Pollak – editor- in-chief and general counsel for Breitbart’s online media empire, which publishes the websites Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv, Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Hollywood and Big Peace – to tell me about Breitbart and his relationship with Israel and Judaism. He emailed me on Friday: “Andrew only visited Israel once, a few years ago, but instantly fell in love with the country and its people.”
“He was the best kind of Jew and human being you could ever meet, one who created opportunities for people in whom he saw a spark – which Maimonides called the highest form of charity,” Pollak wrote. “He carried his faith as he carried all his convictions: with a lighthearted touch but a deep commitment.”
Pollak wrote about how that life and fire extended to Judaism: “Andrew was proudly, and playfully, Jewish. In the last days of his life he wondered openly about observing Shabbat, even as he continued to tease me about not eating bacon and shrimp cocktails. More than once he burst into a Hebrew school song or parts of his bar mitzva portion while working at his desk across from mine – partly to amuse me and partly to entertain himself.”
“He often told an amusing story about meeting Idan Raichel [an Israeli singer-songwriter] in a restaurant where he had been dining with fellow conservative bloggers, and how surprised and inspired they were that the lanky, dreadlocked musician was an ardent and natural patriot,” he said.
“Andrew rejected the knee-jerk liberalism of the Jewish community in which he had been raised but never felt distant from his fellow Jews, no matter what background, and two of his closest colleagues were both Orthodox Jews whose levels of observance both amused and intrigued him.”
“We had a common Jewish kinship even though we lived our lives rather differently and I can say confidently that I’ve never met a finer soul, Jewish or otherwise,” Pollak continued.
Pollak, who ran for Congress in Illinois against J Street Jan Shakowsky in 2010, is one of the Orthodox Jews. I don’t know who the other one is. I hope someone is making sure that Breitbart’s kids get a Jewish education and that someone is taking any sons to shul to say Kaddish.
Here’s a video tribute to Breitbart. Let’s go to the videotape
I’m not Orthodox. But I’m also a Jew from Westwood. I went to University High by UCLA. I once apparently met Arianna Huffington at a party. I know some people who I am close with who didn’t like him. I didn’t know him, he was my friend on facebook. The person who didn’t like him didn’t like me very much either and the other friend who had issues with him as well… so I think I was correct in never attacking him or listening to the stories of people who were reliable sources in other situations. I do admit there were things he posted that were really good, that I avoided posting because I knew it would piss off some people. I knew that he was big enough that I was lucky that I could claim he was a friend on facebook… but I have to be honest… people would tell me if I posted him I was promoting a really bad guy. I never saw any reason to believe he was a bad guy. His online persona I never disagreed with. I kind of feel that he is a hero for really fighting for Israel, but I have to be honest… he was murdered by words. The people at Think Progress and Media Matters turned him into a slur campaign when they were complaining about Israel Firsters. I was watching this on twitter. I felt troubled because I couldn’t really defend him because of other people I knew who really hated him and were good in other ways. The online scene is really awful and some people who are 100% right in every way on their blogs are really horrendous individuals. Andrew obviously died not by natural causes, but it was death by MEDIA… it’s almost like a Paddy Chayefsky film.