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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. KidRock

    He was kicked out of the CNN. Even Fox News did n't like him. He is a quite controversial crazy Mormon who just needs attention and cash. What a conman.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • beast84

      Well if i could make a living speaking my opinion about things I would do it to..wouldn't you?

      August 24, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  2. JustCurious2

    Read "Glenn Beck Is Exploiting Israel" article by MJ Rosenberg @ http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201108180003

    August 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  3. Naomi

    Israel, God loves you. He suffered and died for you. Why won't you listen to Him? When did you ever listen to God since the time of Moses? You always did the opposite except for a very brief time of obedience. Why won't you get it it's been God's will for you to trust in Jesus? He is the One your prophets have been telling you all along. Praying for Israel.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • jack wilson

      THIS JESUS GUY IS NO LONGER WITH US JUST LIKE MY FATHER

      August 24, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Nestor

      @ Naomi, They killed most of the prophets. They loved Baal more than Yahweh for most of their history, and most of them still do. Jesus said it best when he said whitewashed tombs. Beautiful and clean on the outside, filled with dead men's bones on the inside. There are some who love God and are misguided, they are looking for the Messiah and haven't realized that it's Jesus. But many of them have their Messiah already, Tammuz.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  4. Jessica

    The biggest support we could give any country is keeping this yahoo home. Sorry Israel. Keep you eyes on this guy and his cronies.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:49 am |
  5. jack wilson

    GLENN BECK AND RICK PERRY BOTH ABUSE THEIR WIVES BY MAKING THEM SUBMIT..BOTH SHOULD BE JAILED

    August 24, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  6. KidRock

    He is a Mormon not even close to Christianity.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  7. KidRock

    Don't buy his book or watch him on TV or read his articles that will shut him up.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  8. Muneef

    All of them become into buttering for support when intend to go for elections...and no one wins any elections if not backed up by the j/Lobby's.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  9. brian

    Just in case some are not aware.. If Glen Beck is Christian and he buys into bible “Prophecy” and specifically Old Testament prophecy i.e. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the Minor Prophet’s … Which I’m fairly certain He does…

    Make no mistake about it.. He Glen believes “Hook Line & Sinker ... The present day political nation of Israel is definitely the Israel of which the Prophets Speak..

    He makes no distinction (literally millions of professed Christians make the same error) scripturally speaking that when Jesus presented himself to the nation of Israel 2000 years ago ; they Israel totally completely rejected him…

    The Israel of which the prophets prophesied for the very distant future; (that could be upon us) is a “Spiritual Israel” not a fleshly Israel. The heavenly calling was opened up to none Jews.. It’s really pretty simple..

    “Yaw just has” to do some sincere reading actually looking for the truth of the matter…

    August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  10. jack wilson

    i believe many israeli children will be molested by americans this week..beware of americans israel they are up to no good.beck abuses his wife by making her submit...

    August 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  11. Naomi

    Israel, it's true the end of the world was blessed through you. Because of you, we Asians found our Divine Savior Jesus. Abrahamic covenant has been fulfilled and is fulfilling all over the world. There is no one like Jesus of Nazareth who fulfilled all the prophesies in the Jewish Bible and all the dreams of all mankind. Read the Book of Isaiah. Israel gave meanings to our own history and existence. We never knew how meaningful the human lives are until we got to know Jesus your Messiah.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  12. Muneef

    Buttering for cash support from lobbies ...!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  13. KidRock

    and he is an attention seeker so people will give him money or buy his book. He does this all to collect cash and to fool around people.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  14. thunder

    The trouble is that he has followers, mostly older white and racist or borderline racist. It's creepy, he's creepy, YUK!

    August 24, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  15. KidRock

    He needs to get his Brains checkout. He is a recovering Alcoholic. That is what Alcoholism do to your brain.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  16. Jaques

    They are not torn... I would say they are polite , let the loud american mouth make some noise,(lots of that in Rova) I'm sure he's got his camera , he will take few pictures and will go back home...

    August 24, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  17. Stu Steinberg

    Glenn Beck is a craven anti-Semite and this kind of crap fools no one. His comments about Reform Judaism were the type of remarks he is famous for. His comparison with our Rabbis and radical Islam was not just offensive, but patently hysterical. It is his type of Christianity that is more like the Taliban and this "rally" fools no one. These people believe that their way is the only way and that the rest of us are heathens. He is a front for radical, right-wing Christians who have openly stated that their goal is to overthrow our Democratic Republic and turn the US into a Christian theocracy. They are traitors and should be treated as such.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  18. Naomi

    The Jews are very fortunate. Evangelical Christians would keep loving the Jews unconditionally whether they accept it or not. I just wonder why the European Christendom had troubles with the Jews. Bible-illiteracy is such a woe. Reading the entire Bible and knowing the content, it is impossible not to love and support the Jews. Bible-literacy is a must for all Christians. Asian Christians are coming for you to love you, Jews. Please accept Yeshua your Messiah.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  19. JJ

    I DON'T WANT THE GUY IN MY COUNTRY EITHER

    August 24, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  20. Jeff Spangler

    There is not a sincere bone in this rodeo clown's body. He will use anyone as human backdrops for his roadshow. Do not fall for it. Ignore him.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:28 am |
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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.