Glenn Beck, while delivering his keynote address at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Texas on Saturday, displayed an image of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, wearing an armband while giving what appeared to be a Nazi salute.
Using the imagery as a backdrop, Beck went on to criticize Bloomberg for what some have described as his "nanny-state" policies, limiting the size of sugary drinks, salt intake, curbing tobacco displays and gun-control campaign that stretches far beyond New York City..
"We all know 'I heart New York'" Beck told the NRA audience as he unveiled the image of Bloomberg giving an open handed salute. "I'd like to show you my new advertisement for it, new slogan... 'You will love New York!'"
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The comparison sparked immediately outrage from Jewish groups, which argued such Nazi comparisons trivialized the atrocities committed by Hitler and his regime.
"Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker at the NRA's annual convention, trivializes the Holocaust when he compares New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Adolf Hitler," the worldwide Jewish community service organization B'nai B'rith told ABC News.
"The casual use of Nazi imagery or words serves to undermine the atrocities of the Holocaust. Glenn Beck should apologize," the organization added.
Holocaust survivor and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, also objected to the Beck's image of Bloomberg.
"While he doesn't say it, it seems Glenn Beck is implying through an image of Mayor Bloomberg in an apparent Hitlerian salute is that the mayor's policies on gun ownership and other issues are turning New York city into a Nazi-like state," Foxman said. "That suggestion is outrageous, insensitive and deeply offensive on so many levels."
"Glenn Beck should know better," Foxman added. "He has drawn similar inappropriate analogies to the Holocaust before. We wish he would stop trivializing the history of the Holocaust to score partisan political points."
The Anti-Defamation League head was referring to previous remarks by Beck while he was a Fox News host in which he claimed left-wing billionaire Democratic donor and Holocaust survivor George Soros had aided the Nazis as a boy in Hungary.
In 2011, some 400 Rabbis purchased a full page Wall Street Journal ad calling for Fox News to sanction Beck
for his continued use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery to attack Soros.
Neither Bloomberg, nor his Super Pac, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, would comment on the controversy.
Beck, however, was quick to clarify the meaning behind image and dispute its origins, claiming it was not Nazi imagery, but rather based on a propaganda poster of Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin saluting his followers.
When placed side by side, the images of Bloomberg and Lenin appear to mirror each other, minus the armband on Bloomberg.
Though most often associated with the Nazis, the open-handed salute was also used by Italy's Benito Mussolini National Fascist Party, an ally of the Third Reich, and has its roots in ancient Rome.
Beck subsequently demanded an apology from ABC News and other media outlets for mischaracterizing his presentation before the NRA, claiming they were relying on the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for their news stories.
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"I hate to do this to you, ABC News, but what you stop taking your stories directly from Media Matters, you might begin to have a little bit of credibility," Beck said on his radio talk show. "I’m sorry this looks to you like Adolph Hitler, but this was actually the exact image ripped off Soviet propaganda art – who also killed a lot of people, yes. But you guys never seem to have a problem with Lenin. You never seem to have a problem with Mao. You never seem to have a problem with Stalin. Isn’t that weird?"
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