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. Brownstain

    Glen Beckerhaed is the reincarnation of Hermann Goering.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  2. grace

    In america most l libs fight with words of hate, its just how it is. Try something new like meaningful thought. In the end I will choose love.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:07 am |
  3. factsOnly

    Look deep into nature,and
    then you will understand everything better.
    Albert Einstein

    August 24, 2011 at 6:07 am |
  4. not crazy

    Why doesn't this story spell out what Christian Zionists believe? Here's an example quoted from http://endtimepilgrim.org/temple.htm

    "one thing we can say with some assurance. At some future time the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be taken out of Islamic control and secured for Israel. A very significant Middle East peace will be confirmed and guaranteed. This rebuilding of the Temple will at some future time be permitted by a major world power, superpower, or international power. And that power will most certainly not be an Islamic one. We can surmise that this peace covenant will be brokered by someone who emerges on the scene after western powers have taken on the Islamic powers, flown at them with great fury, and brought them down."

    I think I know why this article doesn't go into it. Because Zionist Christianity is evidence that the U.S. is overrun with crazy people.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  5. Gabor47

    Beck is the handful of remaining true conservatives. Do I agree with his strongly Christian religious views? No, I don't, but I believe (note: believe) true freedom and true freedom includes religious freedom too, as long as the "other religion" leaves me along to believe in what I believe in. The Jews should appreciate that, especially in our days when Islam is openly and aggressively threaten Jews. Christians too, but a "certain group" of Christians fail to perceive that (yet).

    Yet, Beck's views are way beyond religion. This generation (and even the previous one) in USA grew up under a growing strong liberal (socialist) views, the one which undermines the America which developed into what it is, truly the greatest country on planet Earth. Beck sees that, openly speaks that and that's why he was removed from the mainstream. Truly sad, because this way America will just continue DOWN on that "slippery slope":

    As for Israel, all thinkers out there should ask themselves the question: how many other new countries were formed since the formation of today's Israel? Do we hear any of them criticized by the Western countries as much is Israel is being criticized? And if not, how come? They were all formed exactly the same way, grabbing a piece of land and declaring it a country. Wasn't that the way USA was formed in the past? Isn't that the same way as many African countries were formed in the 60s? Isn't that the same way never before existing countries became on Balkan during the 90s? In fact, isn't that the same way a bunch of Middle Eastern countries were formed when the Ottoman empire got dissolved?

    Read some history people out there, try to understand all of the above in a logically connected context.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:53 am |
    • Chris

      You know, I am bored and sick and tired of people just watching crazies like Beck and thinking they know what socialism is or libeterianism is.

      This country has been a quasi socialist /capitalistic country since the industrial age. Government interventionism was a by product of the growth of the middle class. Has it limited the US? I dunno we have done just fine.

      I see myself more libeterian than anything though, and would like less government than what has been historical the case. Beck is no libertarian. He doesn't support the dismantling of the military. He doesn't support government pulling itself from the education system. So he is no libetarian. And his "facts" about our past are about as accurate as Palin's understanding of the revolutionary war.

      Glenn Beck is like the Ministry of Truth. Just because he wants to re-write our history, doesn't make what he says true.

      August 24, 2011 at 6:12 am |
  6. Earthling

    What a bunch of nonsense. Can we please grow up and get rid of the fairy tales.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  7. matt

    with the loss of his television show, glenn beck's voice and influence has been drastically reduced. he now spends his days ranting on the radio to his most faithful fans, desperate for attention with his andrea peysar-like reactions to any and every topic of the day. anyway, to settle the matter of on-the-fence jews who can't figure out what to think of this latest rally...let me set the record straight. beck's unwavering support for the state of israel has nothing to do with the country's right to exist or solidarity with a democratic nation beset by the theocratic middle east. the fact is, beck is a intellectually bankrupt biblical literalist. for those who don't read the bible and see it as an inscrutable historical text that dictates the beginning, middle, and end of the world, the state of israel is a crucial ingredient for the "end of days" to occur. the only thing on this sanctimonious zilch cares about is standing before god and hoping that the supreme being looks the other way on his copious history of lies, bigotry, greed, and self worth. please ignore this man. he may be funny in a lot of ways but ultimately he does more harm than any laugh can cure.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:46 am |
  8. chris

    Beck and his kind have already defiled christianity. Wake up Israel. His kind want to use your land for their Jihad. Christians and Muslims have been tag teaming the Jews for more than a thousand years and the Christians are waiting their turn next.
    Trust them not. The only one that ever loved you was Jesus and he was one of yours. Not theirs.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:40 am |
  9. Reno-Now

    How much money is GBeck making on this deal? That's the bottom line for him....MONEY!

    August 24, 2011 at 5:38 am |
    • Jeffrey

      ... and not being taxed much on that income.

      August 24, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  10. Jay C.

    This guy really needs to get a real job. This further deepens any peace between Israelis & Palestinians. So does the "land grabbing" allowed by Israel's govt of Palestinian West Bank property. Its property, not "territory". Property is owned. Territory sounds better to the thief. No wonder Gazans hate the nation of Israel and the likes of Beck. Beck should speak out against theft by the Chosens' government. Its actually a sin Beck.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:35 am |
  11. Jack

    Beck is better left ignored.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:27 am |
  12. Manumission

    Why doesn't someone ask the simple questions? Like, why are the people of Israel so hated in their "homeland"? How did they get there in the first place? Why were they so hated in Europe, chased from there, after they fled the Levant to begin with? God's chosen people, or something else?

    August 24, 2011 at 5:02 am |
  13. John

    Delusional people, claiming to have a personal relationship with God, hoping for the end of the world, do not make good friends. Whatever Israel gets politically by aligning itself with narrow-minded bigots, it loses in respect from the rest of us.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:01 am |
    • Manumission

      Not only delusional, but they refuse to assimlate where ever they go. Here in America we accept the Jewisth religion and people because we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This has nearly become our downfall. We tolerate an outspoken and cultish religion (Judaism) to the extent that it holds a disproportiiante lever on political power in the U.S. Our politicians are afraid to challenge the highly vocal Jiewish lobby in the nation, to the extent that now most of the World reviles us, especially the Arab and Muslim communities. Americans need to wake-up: we have no national interest in continuing to support "Israel".

      August 24, 2011 at 5:07 am |
    • Joe

      So let's support that other cult known as Islam instead. Why don't all you liberals move to Gaza if you feel so strongly about supporting terrorist's. No......you won't do that, because you know within an hour you would be kidnapped or beheaded. Oh forgive me......I almost forgot........Thomas Jefferson is going to take over in Lybia, Egypt, and Syria.....isn't he? I'd rather be a biggot than stupid.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  14. JLR

    Beck is a high school graduate. His opinions should be valued as much as any other high school graduate: not much.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Siesta Beach

      His lack of a college degree has nothing to do with him being a fool. You sound like a fool yourself.

      August 24, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  15. Who Cares?

    Why does someone have to go to Israel? Some lunatic white guy is just trying to make money, and you clowns are defending him and making him richer. Want proof that this scrub is a racist, just watch his show ( or what was his show) always bagging on Obama, but man always on his knees for Israel or Republicans. This guy spent so much time on his knees, even his own kids were ashamed.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:51 am |
    • Manumission

      Pretty good analysis, "Who Cares". Beck is a nut case, certifiable. But, he has an audience, and the dopes who listen to him are making him rich. Kind of like Hitler and the Nazis, doomed to fail, but getting rich along the way.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:56 am |
    • JLR

      He doesn't have a show to watch. He went from CNN, to Fox, to AM radio. That should tell everyone what they need to know about Beck.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Gabor47

      Hey JLR,

      Yes, it does tell a lot. It tells that he is a real conservative and as such he was rejected by the establishment which infected even the Fox News. The "slippery slope" which started in the 1960s got far enough that no true conservative are allowed to stay in the limelight. That is why even a republican majority leadership is unable to be effective anymore.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  16. Manumission

    First of all, Glen Beck is a foaming at the mouth rabid Right Wing talk show nut job. Why would anyone take seriously anything this nut ball has to say?

    Second, why does the U.S. support the State of Israel in continuing to steal Palestinian land? Sorry, crazy is not selling here.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:49 am |
    • Peace2All

      For the 'fundy' Christians out there, it is in the Bible that Israel plays a prominent part when 'warrior Jesus' comes back to send the non-christians to hell and the good ones to heaven


      August 24, 2011 at 4:55 am |
  17. Roy

    To hear this man talk like that, just make you sick, because you know all this talk from him, just because he want his job back at foxnews channel. shame

    August 24, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  18. Roy

    Mr.Beck, want his job back at Foxnewss channell, this why all the sucking for .

    This man need it urgent. his job back,

    August 24, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  19. sam

    if its for peace .. let him do whatever he wants, but I always question this guys motives

    August 24, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  20. 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 4:45 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.