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. Gannt

    A radical preacher who has anger management issues, a keen interest in rewriting history, a violent hatred against blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims, a devout follower of the apocalypse, a strong belief of ultra nationalism, and a very unhealthy obsession of Judaism.

    Hmm... reminds me of someone.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  2. sheila

    Glenn Beck is retarded, and an a hole. don't be torn about it Jews, just acknowledge that and move on.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  3. Storie

    I love Glenn Beck 🙂

    August 24, 2011 at 2:47 am |
  4. Naomi

    Israel, it's true the end of the world was blessed through you. Thank 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 2:45 am |
  5. zoundsman

    I get an itchy, unclean feeling when I see a picture of Beck.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  6. Brian

    The man is a preacher of hatred and ignorance. No good can come from this.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  7. Jebus

    I don't get this rapture stuff. Someone please explain...

    August 24, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • joshmacy

      Simply put, when the end of the world comes as is stated in the book of Revelation, Jesus will come back take away the Christians to heaven (rapture), and smite the non believers and Satan himself. There are million ways to interpret it all, but the idea is that the good guys finally win and the bad guys finally lose. Some people read what the conditions are for the end of the world and try to create them on earth in order to "usher" in Jesus.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • evensteven

      joshmacy: It would be interesting to know how many people are wishing for and trying to "will" the end of the game/world, just so they can prove to the non-believers they are right. What kind of future are they trying to create?

      August 24, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  8. evensteven

    Fear sells.
    Beck is a millionaire . . .

    August 24, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  9. Gast

    Ugh, please don't associate Beck with the rest of us Mormons. He's a friggin' idiot and I'm pretty sure we do NOT belong to the same religion when it comes down to it. He twists crap and is a fear monger. The word "zealot" comes to mind. And zealots, regardless of flavour, are bad. I seriously don't know how this man hasn't been kicked out of the church with the crap he says.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  10. Faith

    This man is an entertainer. Nothing more. He's seeking attention, and he's getting it.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  11. Brian

    You will find false prophets in all religions. It's funny how they relate to each other, as in this case.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  12. Paul

    So, here are some Jews saying Gee, I like this guy kissing our a$$es, but man, he is a real idiot, what if then people associate Jews with ultra conservative moronic behavior.
    Got news for you, that's what you are, not because of the religion, but because of your behavior ... so take it easy, Beck is nothing but a mirror, smile.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  13. Nate

    This man is a swine merchant

    August 24, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  14. jesus

    The Jews must be in place for when rapture comes. Everyone knows this.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Bring On The Rapture!

      When the rapture comes, I'll be there with my shotgun getting in a little skeet-shooting on those fly-away creepies.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • bb

      Skeet shooting of raptured Chirstians. Good god man...

      August 24, 2011 at 2:24 am |
  15. Jo

    If Israel has stooped to the 'likes' of Glen Beck heaven help them... They are a pathetic DUO!!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  16. Chaiah

    Beck and global unity? Are you kidding me? Beck is an idiot – and so are his followers.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  17. Justin

    Who would have thought that 66 years after Hitler shot himself, another right wing maniac would be fighting for Jews?

    August 24, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • Brian

      Glenn Beck isn't fighting for jews. he's fighting for dollars to keep lining his bank account.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  18. yannaes

    can't we all just get along

    August 24, 2011 at 2:01 am |
  19. jack wilson


    August 24, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • meg61

      Okay that's going too far... Glen Beck is NOT an official spokesperson for the LDS (Mormon) church. Nor is he a church authority. I personally think our church has suffered from his right wing radicalism and fear tactics. And I am disturbed by those who follow him so willingly. There are countless faithful church members like myself that do not share or appreciate his careless blanket statement opinions. There is enough misinformation about the LDS faith already – which is a tragedy, being that it is a lovely, family-oriented, Christian religion. The last thing we need is Glen Beck as a representative to create more intolerance.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:34 am |
  20. hmmm

    hmmm. What's interesting if anything is that you can denounce politically driven Christians, and politically driven Muslims untill the cows come home, but once you criticize pollitical Jewish people you are 'racist', and 'anti-semetic'. Of course there is plenty of anti semitism tied to anti Israeli sentiment. Almost more so with left wing preachers than right wing ones. It seems that people are all up in arms over political differences, and just want to label others they don't like...even if they are supporting them and advocating their sovernty. People are spiteful, and not very well thought. It really shows especcially on these message boards

    August 24, 2011 at 1:54 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.