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. Nashcat

    So this is the caliber of discussion to be found on a CNN web page. I'm ashamed I ever watched this network. Nothing but hate here.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • Amber

      Yep, the truly stupid bashing the brilliant. If these people posting all their hate of Beck had EVER listened to ONE complete show, they would have learned a lot about history, politics, motives, agendas and the truly destructive nature of the left. But, no. They bash what they don't know and it's because it scares them. Very pathetic. They want things to stay the same and keep on going the way they're going until we all collectively go over the cliff bankrupt and corrupt as the next nation. What they don't understand, because of their pea brain incapacities to rationalize and project, is that when collapse comes to America it will be on a collosal scale. They just don't think it will ever happen. That's their 2nd mistake. Their 1st mistake was electing the moron who is overseeing the decline of America and jumping up and down on the bed!

      August 24, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Jeffrey

      I've listened to the guy and have no respect for him whatsoever.
      What's his college degree in?

      August 24, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  2. Shlomo

    most israelis are secular and don't even know who glenn beck is.

    and those who know tend to dislike him for his racist views.

    israelis have other things on their mind now, like how to send 1/2 million kids next week to the first day of school under the explosions of palestinian missles on israel in the fake "cease- fire" of hamas!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  3. mocha moore

    Beck is a real whack job

    August 24, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  4. slupdawg

    Don't know why anybody would be torn. Anything Beck does has the stink of death on it. At least the stink of stupidity.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  5. Derek

    I think it's funny that some of the Jewish population actually thinks Beck gives a damn about them or Israel, as a whole. Beck is a used car salesman and a complete circus act who is simply taking his show on the road to make money. I would hope the Jewish population maintains it's skepticism of the man and keep their distance from him. The man is a leech.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  6. Retired3

    This man is clearly a racist, he proved that on his show, why is he going to Israel?

    August 24, 2011 at 3:54 am |
  7. Ron

    Salvation is from the Jews! Going against Israel eventually leads to horrible things happening to you and your nation. Just look at the bible and history! The ancient Babylonians are gone, the ancient Egyptians are gone, the Roman Empire is gone, Nazi Germany got obliterated and Soviet Russia crumbled. Jesus Christ was a Jew and all the 12 disciples were Jews (Aramaic but Jews)! The first Christians were considered a Jewish sect in the beginning until the split around 70 AD (after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple).

    August 24, 2011 at 3:49 am |
    • Ron 2875

      Aramaic was a language not a belief system. The ancient nations that you mention may have ceased to exist but the descendants of those people are still among us. All nation states eventually wither and die. The Jewish people have only had a nation for sixty years. Why don't we suspend judgement on its viability at least until it has surpassed one hundred years of existence. As an Israeli I freely admit we are no better than anyone else. We are good and bad, saintly and cruel, compassionate and uncaring, no different than all human kind.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:01 am |
  8. KY

    Good God. Satan goes to Israel. Again.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  9. Vinny

    Beck is a real schmeckle. I hope he takes a safe stroll over in the Palestinian slums.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  10. ranti


    August 24, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Vinny


      August 24, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • Eric

      More than likely jesus never lived. It's hard to take the new testament that seriously given that it is largely plagiarized from earlier works, was written anonymously decades after the supposed events, and contradicts itself. Also the fact that its core teaching (that jesus died for our sins and, yet, is still alive) is absolutely ridiculous really doesn’t help its case. It would be funny if it wasn’t for all you jesus freaks running around killing everyone.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • Doug

      So I see you use caps.. Did you know that's shouting ? Are you aware that sick idiots who praise this type of religious bull are what have made this planet almost unbearable to live on ? Are you aware that religious hate has caused the death of more people than anything during the entire history of man ? So, tell me, what were you screaming about hater ?

      August 24, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • FSM

      I agree what about Horus and Orus (look it up).

      August 24, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  11. Vinny

    Beck is a dooshbag who is full of hate. For the love of all that is holy, stop giving him attention.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  12. macnot

    I've read a lot of accusations, including bigotry, Israel for money and ego, and that he's a nut job. What I have not read is proof of these accusations. If you make judgements like these and label people, please back them up with fact. Why do you believe Beck is a "racist bigot"? And, why is he a "nut job"? Please clarify.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Probably because people have been around for five seconds or more when his lips have been moving.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • Beverly Tatum

      You have obviously never watched his show on FOX – which was cancelled for his constant lies and racism and sheer lunacy. He now has his radio show and it is just as extreme and racist and full of lies as his show. He is a national joke in the US and most people ignore him completely now. We are thrilled FOX network dumped him. He did nothing but spread hate, lies, absurd conspiracy theories and was constantly having to apologize for his actions and ugly rants.

      Maybe we will get lucky and Hamas will kidnap him while he is in Israel on another fake publicity stunit.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • huxley

      Beck is a clown. He predicts some kind of race warfare armagedon in the near future on every one of his shows – and its never happened. Yet, he keeps doing it, over and over. Its like getting your news from a Seventh Day Adventist.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • graceless5

      ever watch or listen to him? all the proof comes right out of his diuretic mouth

      August 24, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  13. Jim

    "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 at what end of the political spectrum do we find American Jews? The article doesn't say, and I certainly don't know since I tend not to pigeon-hole people based on their religion.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  14. ranti


    August 24, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • Jack

      Most racist bigots in America are conservative.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:33 am |
  15. SixDegrees

    Jews need to realize they're being played by Beck. Beck is chasing a Fundamentalist Christian minority who believe that boosting Israel will fulfill prophecy and bring about the End Times. Beck believes this about as much as he believes the rest of the crock he spews – not at all – but senses that there's money to be made off this crowd. But don't make the mistake of thinking, even for a minute, that this is about solidarity with Israel.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • John Ostrom

      six degrees of destruction, who are you? nothing good , nothing fair and nothing bright . so brainwashed , poor you ..fool

      August 24, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  16. huxley

    Beck is such a clown. He needs to go back to writing fictional books and stop pretending to be a news caster.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Beck was never a newscaster, and certainly isn't now. He left his opinion segment on Fox last spring.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • John Ostrom

      there's nothing more hateful, intolerant and closet racist than a leftist liberal. most of you are useless and depend on the goverment for work that's paid by the middle class taxpayers

      August 24, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  17. ranti


    August 24, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  18. AlenB

    A bigot preaching to a racist choir in the last racist hive on this planet.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • John Ostrom

      alen b , when you say beck is a racist give me an example. does he hate blacks , jews, latinos, asians , eskimos, whites, hawaiians , samoas ? what tell me who? alen b you are probably sitting in you dorm dreaming of a day when the world decides to become one. wake up think with your brain not your heart

      August 24, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • John Ostrom

      alen b , when you say beck is a racist give me an example. does he hate blacks , jews, latinos, asians , eskimos, whites, hawaiians , samoas ? what tell me who? alen b you are probably sitting in you dorm dreaming of a day when the world decides to become one. wake up think with your brain not your heart. listen kid

      August 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  19. Joel

    Since he thinks Reform Jews are "almost like" Radical Islamists...can we send him to the Gaza Strip instead? He'll never know the difference!

    August 24, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  20. MO on MO

    Let me know when Beck plans his Billion man march on Mecca.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:06 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.