Jews torn over Glenn Beck Jerusalem rally
Glenn Beck at last summer's 'Restoring Honor' rally in Washington
August 23rd, 2011
04:49 PM ET

Jews torn over Glenn Beck Jerusalem rally

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

One year after hosting a huge politically charged and largely faith-based rally in Washington, Glenn Beck is at it again, this time in Jerusalem.

Just like last year’s “Restoring Honor” rally in the capital, Beck’s pro-Israel rally in the Holy Land on Wednesday has stirred plenty of controversy before it even begins, with many Jews in Israel and the United States saying they feel mixed about the event.

They welcome the support for the Jewish state, many Jews say, but some are uncomfortable over recent Beck pronouncements on Judaism and the rally’s close association with conservative evangelical Christians from the United States.

“I and some in my community have been critical of him and some of his expressions, and we have made no secret about our feelings,” says Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that fights anti-Semitism.

“We should welcome it and embrace it,” he said of Beck’s rally but added, “I hope he doesn’t make any faux pas, which he’s been prone to do.”

Beck says his Jerusalem rally is meant to show global solidarity with Israel at a time when the nation is facing growing international criticism and threats.

“There’s an important distinction of saying I love Israel, I defend Israel, and not separating that from the Jewish people,” Beck said Monday at one of a string of events leading up to the Wednesday rally. “Make sure to say not that we only love Israel, but we love the Jewish people as they are.”

Some of Beck’s previous comments on Judaism have attracted criticism from groups like the Anti-Defamation League, provoking apologies from Beck.

In February, Beck criticized Reform Judaism – a major movement among American Jews - on his radio show. At the time, Beck said Reform rabbis are "generally political in nature.”

“It's almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way,” Beck continued. “Radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. … When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics."

Foxman called the statement “highly offensive and outrageous." Beck apologized for using a “horrible analogy.”

Last year, Foxman blasted Beck for alleging that financier George Soros, who is Jewish by birth, helped send Jews to death camps during the Holocaust. Foxman said the remarks, which came on Beck’s radio show, were “inappropriate, offensive and over the top.”

Beyond Beck’s statements, some Jews are uneasy with his close association with Christian Zionists, American-based evangelicals who tend to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum from American Jews and whom some Jews suspect have ulterior motives for befriending them.

Some evangelicals believe events in Israel are crucial to ushering in Jesus’ second coming, while other Jews say evangelical Christians want to convert them.

High-profile American evangelical leaders like the Rev. John Hagee, the leader of the American Christian Zionist movement, are traveling with Beck this week. Beck, a Mormon, began building bridges to conservative evangelical leaders in the lead-up to last year’s Washington rally.

“Last year’s event was all about getting your house in order, getting back to God and getting started in prayer again, whether or not you’re an evangelical,” said David Barton, an American evangelical activist who helped Beck organize the Washington rally and who is traveling with Beck in Israel this week.

“This next event is about, because you’re God-centered, you start looking around for neighbors that need help - especially Israel, which is where our roots are,” said Barton, describing the Jerusalem rally.

Barton said Beck’s Mormonism is a plus because Israeli leaders are less wary that he has ulterior motives for supporting them.

Many Christian Zionist leaders say Christian support for Israel is based in a Biblical connection to Jews and Israel, not in messianic thinking or a desire to convert.

“There’s an uneasiness in the community with evangelical support,” Foxman said. “But as long as the support is not conditioned on American Jewish support for the conservative Christian political agenda or on us converting, they can be my guest.”

The rally is happening steps away from holy sites like the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. On Tuesday night, some Republican members of Congress were meeting with Beck and American evangelical leaders in Jerusalem.

In Israel, many conservative politicians have embraced Beck’s rally and the broader backing of American evangelicals.

“I am very supportive of his initiative,” Danny Danon, an Israeli parliament member who belongs to the conservative Likud Party, said of Beck’s rally.

“When we see so many attacks against Israel and when we have people coming and standing with Israel, it is very important,” he said.

But Danon also hinted at Jewish ambivalence toward Beck.

“I don’t agree with everything that Mr. Beck said in the past, and I will not agree with everything that he will say in the future,” he said.

“But if you take the overall picture in terms of support for Israel … you really have someone who really cares about supporting the state of Israel and supporting the message of the connection of Jews to the land.”

–CNN's Kevin Flower contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Israel • Judaism • Leaders

soundoff (1,111 Responses)
  1. humble and cute

    Cannpt believe that the Israeli government could be soooooooo stupid as to actually issue this guy a visa ..

    August 24, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  2. Cathy

    These are the types of people that my husband "serves" while in the military. It is an absolute embarrassment. Israel, please keep him. We have enough crazies in this country.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • AlohaBetty

      Cathy–without people like Glenn Beck your husband wouldn't be serving at all–well, at best he would be serving at McDonalds for minimum wage. If Obama had his way we wouldn't even have a military. You ought to realize which side your bread is buttered on. My husband is in the Navy based out of Okinawa and we are proud to be Americans and proud of what Beck is fighting for. God bless him and shame on you.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  3. Isaac Freeman

    Don't listen to these idiots Glenn. We appreciate your support here in Israel. God Bless You!!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Charly StJames

      I do support Israel too but I can't stand a pseudo person like Beck. There's a BIG difference between someone who really loves the Land of Israel and the Jewish people and really do things to show that love (out of the scope of the media), AND someone who only wants to get attention from the public to HIM by using this type of events...

      August 24, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  4. Stanny

    I support anybody who supports Israel.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  5. Informant

    Glenn back is a racist!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Stanny

      He is a realist.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • AlohaBetty

      Typical liberal. Can't state any FACTS just insults. Run out of factual ammunition? Just start name calling.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  6. Premal D.Shah

    Glen Beck cannot overcome the fact that he has been a miserable failure. He wants to regain the effect that he had on the fox channel's viewers who ultimately saw through him.He is a plague which never goes away. He is worse than a Nazi. May the sky fall on his head in the form of a scud missile!!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  7. Charly StJames

    Come on people? What do you expect from Beck? He is a Mormon (LDS). He believes in things like Zion is in Salt Lake City, Utah and not in Israel. He believes in other 3 different books (sacred according to his belief) other than the Bible. It's really not surprise to me that he's saying idiotic things about Israel and the Jewish people and then apologizing after saying them...

    August 24, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  8. currahees

    Beck became a Mormon recently. He doesn't know what to do with himself. Very ill man. Amazing.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  9. brown

    Beck ... the pretentious fool!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  10. neil singer

    Glen Beck has proved that he has a serious mental health problem and has been given a microphone in order to deal with it ,,Unsuccessfully I might add,

    August 24, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  11. WFO

    Me, Beck, one dark alley and one knife. The cops will take one of us, the coroner will take the other.

    That dude is one serious POS! No shocker really. Just another member of the Fox Gang. Anything to manipulate the fears of the weak minded and easily entertained, the same folks that tend to buy tabloids in line at the market. This country is becoming a total joke, run by jokers.

    I regret having served it for as long as I did (6 years) .... these gasholes have made a mockery of my service and my sacrifices and the same for all service members who came back ~different~.

    Best wishes ...

    August 24, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • cony000

      I honor our military, police force, and our fireman. To hell with Beck and his kind.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  12. The Energy Guy

    P. T. Barnum would hire Beck in a heartbeat. He is a walking freak show. He is truly a carnival barker.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  13. cony000

    Beck is an idiot, a bigot, a moran, con artist, flim flam, carpet bagger, and a joke. He needs to go away and spend his blood money.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  14. O

    Why does Beck love Israel so much? Why does Beck feel the need to defend Israel? Why can Israel do no wrong in the eyes of the US? Such hypocrisy. Why doesn't Beck love Libya? Or India? Or China? Why doesn't Beck feel the need to defend any other country? Why do we continue to defend Israel at all costs?

    August 24, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • cony000

      He doesn't love Israel or any other country because the guy just loves himself.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • WFO

      cuz Jeebus is looking over his shoulder 24/7 .. didn't you know that? They ALL fantasize that Jeebus sees them when they're sleeping, he knows when they're awake, he knows if they've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!

      So it's all part of the way the Christians compete with each other for the adoring eyes of their lord. They all MUST say they "love" Jeruselem because one of them already said it first! "Yea, me too! See how clever I am too? I love them MORE than that first guy that said it! See how selfless that makes me? I should get to heaven first cuz I'm more gooder than them other guys!"

      Since their god is watching every single breath they take, the little performance show in their heads must be ongoing and continous. It sounds so loving and giving to say one loves that place. Of course thay say it! It sounds "profound".

      Liars and Lemmings.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • WFO

      woops .. Isreal .. not Jeruselem. Doh!

      August 24, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  15. JJ

    Does anyone take this posturing clown, like, seriously?

    August 24, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • cony000

      Just the teabagger, kkk and the kock brothers. They worship the ground he walks on.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Tessa

      Yes, mostly everyone I think. Thank goodness.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Tessa

      AHH! I misread your statement; that's what I get for skimming. Clearly, I meant 'no one'. Because no one takes him seriously. I think I thought you wrote "Does anyone know he's a posturing clown?" Yikes! Off to bed for me.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  16. Shouldthey

    This will be the only time I wish a Hamas rocket hits it's target...

    August 24, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  17. M

    Dirka Dirka Mohammed Jihad!

    August 24, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Benzin

      It's pronounced "durka" you insensitive a–hole.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  18. EZG427

    Surely you fox-watching so-called christians know that beck cares nothinge about anything other than getting rich by inflaming issues, and painting normal people as demons, playing on fears and getting neighbor to turn on neighbor. You all know this...right?

    August 24, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Hez316

      You know it anyway.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  19. Ya No

    One of the few people on the planet capable of embarrassing God.

    August 24, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Randy Buist

      That is perhaps the funniest thing I've ever read.
      Thanks for a laugh in the midst of reading about someone who is really a jihadist himself. He just choses words instead of guns.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • cony000

      He doesn't embarass god but he does embarass SATAN!!!!

      August 24, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  20. cschembor

    nothing is more anti-semitic than zionism

    August 24, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • IDIOTS

      Nothing is more evil than a Jew hating liar. Die dog! Am chai Yisrael!

      August 24, 2011 at 1:04 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.