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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. Sarav Chidambaram

    The clown goes to Jerusalem and you guys have time to cover that idiots rants. He is out of his mind and he needs medication. Perhaps a place in a mental asylum for rest of his life. He is a crazy lunatic.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  2. Henry

    The Jews, in their attempt to find "friends" anywhere, are now aligning with Glenn Beck. May come in handy in the short term but they better think carefully before accepting his "support". Sometimes the person professing to be your friend really could care two hoots less about you.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  3. Beck - no Credibility

    Any Jew who thinks that anything Beck says reliable is just plain stupid; Beck is about showmanship. Next year he will say that the Jews need to bring Jesus into their lives or cooperate more with the Arabic countries.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  4. Adrian Edmonds

    Please could all you left pondians take your trash home and keep it there. An Israeli

    August 24, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  5. wwleslie

    I don't suppose Beck said anything about radicalized Christianity/Mormonism? And I hope Israeli Jews don't mind being a part of the fundamentalist Christian rapture scenario; you'll be left behind to fry . . . just like the rest of us "non-believers". Don't welcome these people into your country – they have their own self-serving agenda, and it ultimately does not include you.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  6. papalamepimelos

    Another illustration that the US really is Israel's b!tch....

    When Israel says 'jump!', America asks 'how high?'

    August 24, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  7. Frankly Speaking..

    Its ironic, they amass the jews together in the promised land so hell can rain on them when jesus comes back to fulfil his prophecy.. Yet the zionists endorse their support, I thought they were smarter than that.. I would never want a friend who seeks my destruction, do you ?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  8. Jeffrey

    Isn't there some way to make him take a hike along the Iranian border?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  9. mikesmom

    @shawn. I'm sorry but you were not given a brain at birth. Please send my deepest condolences to your parents.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • STOPIM

      Wow, really good argument here. Logical, focused, and on topic.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  10. Goodstuff

    The US must uphold its commitment to Israel over that of its own people. An Israeli is worth more then a black American. PRAISE JESUS!

    August 24, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • Henry

      I like your thinking.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  11. Jeffrey

    So the jews had a hand in crucifying Jesus.
    I can assure you, if they crucify Beck I certainly won't hold it against them.
    But this time, make sure that for this guy there's none of that rising again after 3 days.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  12. Hypocrite Logic

    He so wants a super holy war.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  13. Mike

    Some folks came to conclusion that road of material success is to make chosen people happy and use own religion blanket for all hateful acts so no one can point fingers at you

    August 24, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  14. michael

    He is a perfect match for the russian fascist religious freak led apartheid regime in Israel. It is their last hope since they have not friends left. Beck should stay there and not come back to our country

    August 24, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  15. mike

    I would like to see Kevin Flower report on the language coming from Washington on Israel. At least Beck is doing out of heart felt support and his beliefs. Besides... this is CNN... could the EVER say something positive about a "Beck action"?

    August 24, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • JV

      Does GB ever do anything positive besides crying, spouting fear, or sell gold? C'mon this guy is a goof!

      August 24, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Henry

      @ mike – Heartfelt support!!! HA. Follow GB from his early CNN days and see where he is now. He is an entertainer who has found his niche for making money. There is nothing religious or sincere about this man. If you fall for this then you just validate how easily led we are by those who spout hate of other people.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  16. Jerry

    Mr. Beck, do your thing! Don't ever allow the people that hate you for telling things "like they are" prevent you from uncovering all the idiocy going on in our country. You sir, are a true patriot!

    August 24, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • Henry

      True patriot you say? Are you kidding me? Do you miss him on Fox News yet and did you "migrate" with him to his televised radio show? You lap up all his sewage, don't you?

      August 24, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  17. drinnc

    Glenn has gone in a direction which I can not follow. Unconditional support for Israel, with no balancing support of the cause of the Palestinians is simply divisive. There is a saying in Israel that the surest way to end your career is to inter the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  18. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Did he wear a bullet proof vest like he did in his D.C. rally?

    August 24, 2011 at 6:36 am |
  19. angrysmell

    glenn beck = eric cartman

    August 24, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • angryagain

      Hahahahaa... Well said

      August 24, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  20. Obama Bin Badagin

    Jews for Jesus! With the Lord's help we can convert them all and lead them to the rapture!

    August 24, 2011 at 6:26 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.