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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. RWESTUPID

    On behalf of the rational people in America, I implore Israel to keep this bible spouting dirtbag.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Ruth

      Israel desn't want him.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  2. Adam

    Don't let this bag of d!cks into Israel! Who gave him the approval to have any sort of rally, religious or political (they seem to be blending together these days) anywhere near the Western Wall!

    I can imagine it now: "Let us all pray for the lasting friendship between Jews and Christians, Billy Bob do it now!" with members of the KKK popping out and proceeding to start lighting everything on fire.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  3. Rev. Rick

    Quoting from the article: "Barton said Beck’s Mormonism is a plus because Israeli leaders are less wary that he has ulterior motives for supporting them." Who is Barton kidding? Beck has his own agenda. Look at Beck's track record. Mormonism is simply another branded form of Christianity. If anyone thinks that Beck is in this for purely altruistic motives, they are deluding themselves. Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly...

    August 24, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  4. free spirt

    who else supports Israel

    August 24, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  5. lathebiosas

    Tool.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  6. bahminj

    Why doesn't BECK keep his little dough butt home and find a real and worthy passion for his bipolar state of mind..Must he always rain on the ideologies of others!. He is such a spoiler!

    August 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  7. TonyB

    It's almost hilarious that any serious Bible student would think that God needs American evangelicals or the American government to help usher in His end-times plan for the children of Israel, the Gentiles, and the world. It is equally as deluded to believe that the Israelites, or the bulk of non-believers in the USA and elsewhere, are going to be converted to Christianity in this current Church age. Scripture tells us just the opposite, that things are going to get worse until Christ returns, and only then will He take vengeance on His enemies, reconcile with Israel, avenge the persecuted saints of the Tribulation and usher in His Kingdom of peace "when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" that He is Lord. It's fine for the USA to politically support Israel, a tough little democracy in the Mideast surrounded by despots and terrorists, but to any religious implications iare merely incidental and events will unfold according to God's plan in the Bible, not according to Glenn Beck's delusions of grandeur.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  8. Shira

    as an israeli zionist i must agree with everyone here.

    this man is crazy and a bigot.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  9. DoubleTap

    ADL = George Soros, nice try Foxman, we know where your bread is buttered

    August 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  10. John

    Glen Beck Is nothing but a Racist Bigot. If you was smart you wouldn't believe anything this man say.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • DoubleTap

      and if you're a drone (like you) people will listen to your democratic libertard rants

      August 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  11. Bob from Pittsburgh

    Prime example fo the American Taliban

    August 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  12. Jeff

    the guy is a religious wack job no differnt than palin, bachmann or perry.
    our country is going to be nothing more than a two bit theocracy like Iran

    August 24, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • NJBob

      Correct! The only question is how fast we get there.

      August 24, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  13. Michael

    With Beck on your side, who needs enemies?

    August 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • bahminj

      GREAT COMMENT!

      August 24, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  14. tialou07

    JackTaraz – you bought your land and your ancestor's stole it from the Native Americans. And Beck is a politicial tool of GOP. His mission is to generate more hate and distrust for anythig and anyone that does not support the GOP. He and many like him are ignorant of the Teaching of Jesus and take passage from the Bible and mis-quote them – twist them to
    for their own purposes; but what they fail to realize is that God doesn't need help for the return of his son Jesus Christ and if they read their Bible they will know that no one but God knows the appoint time of Jesus return.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  15. AriWelker

    thank you, Mr. Beck. At this perilous time in history, we must stand together.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  16. *SIGH*

    My jewish brothers, beware of this charlatan. This man's motive is to ultimately wipe us out or convert us.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Grey, Atlanta

      Right on!

      August 24, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  17. daniel

    as an israeli and a zionist i bag you to take this racist man back!!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • DoubleTap

      learn to speak English and go back to Gaza you idiot

      August 24, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • prncss

      We don't want him either!

      August 24, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Grey, Atlanta

      @DoubleTap: I would be greatly impressed if you could write your comment in Hebrew with just one spelling error. You will never be able to do it, though, buffoon!

      August 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      @ Grey, Atlanta......LMAO! Great response 😉 !

      August 24, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  18. Dmoney

    supporting a country for religous reasons...FAIL

    August 24, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      WRONG!!!!

      He's supporting Isreal for his personal benefit (money/wealth)......plain and simple!

      August 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  19. Charles Beale

    God help Israel if Beck stays very long!

    August 24, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  20. Jeff

    Beck is not trying to show support for the Jewish people by supporting Israel. Don't liet him fool you! He believes in the preservation of Israel so that, as he believes, Jesus will be resurrected and send all but the true believers to hell. So essentially he wants Israel to send all the Jews to hell, biblically speaking of course.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:29 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.