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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. buddget

    Glen Beck is a creep, like most people who think they know what is best for everyone else.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  2. liz

    Don't confuse adoration for Israel with any affinity for the Jewish people. It's all about the land only and many, too many, couldn't care less for the Jews or be any less anti-Semitic

    August 24, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • The Man

      Oh yeah. Glenn Beck wants that land. hilarious! Just stick some 'self proclaimed thought pattern' into Glenn's mouth. Something he has never said. Funny how you all are attacking this guy, a non-elected person of little concern in the scheme of things, while Joe Bite-me is over in China stating that he supports China's 'one child policy', something that has cause people to drown, shoot, and suffocate children so the parents won't get put in jail. That isn't even reported on this ignoramus website.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • The Man

      That's why you're all so stupid. You stick to CNN and you get only the news they want you to get. Hmmm? I think that's called BRAINWASHING!

      August 24, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Mike

      It's less of a love and more of a fetish.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  3. Idan

    a news flash for Glenn Beck:
    in israel most of us are seculars and we don't want your racist "support" on us!

    now that you know you can feel free to leave.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • liz

      They just want your land. Couldn't less much less for your people.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  4. mike Head

    fox news glen beck biggest joke on cable.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • The Man

      Pure hate.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  5. shared_gum

    What is there to be torn about? How can they even contemplate letting him do this?

    August 24, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • The Man

      More pure hate.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  6. Cedar Rapids

    'Barton said Beck’s Mormonism is a plus because Israeli leaders are less wary that he has ulterior motives for supporting them.'
    That so sounded like they are just using him as a front man to hide behind.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  7. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is a filthy, stinking pile of dung and Beck is right there with her.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • AGuest9

      True, but at least Beck didn't write his talking points on his hand.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • The Man

      Complete hatred. Real nice. You people are so typical of left wingers. Hate Hate Hate. That's all there is. No one can think any different than you or they're #@*$#@ #@#^&#@. So sad.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • trigtwit...America's favorite tard baby

      @ The Man ***poot***

      August 24, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  8. Recovering Republican

    Why are we still listening to this self absorbed pompous piece of crap? Beck is as good for the Christian cause as the KKK. They both use the cross to further their own growth, at the expense of the cause they claim to support. Wake up America.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  9. blf83

    Beckster=hoaxter=ignoramus=crazy=radical Mormon=dangerous.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • The Man

      Read all of these entries and tell me who sounds dangerous!?!? You people scare the heck out of me far more than any Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. And all you have are insults with no real grounds for your comments. Pick out something from ancient history and slap that label on Beck and Palin. hilarious and scarey.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  10. Ivan Bial

    Beck is a bad guy who Play the “Christian Right” like a fiddle while keeping his true G-D a secret…Beck prays at the altar of “Money”

    August 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • liz

      So does much of the rest of the Christian right. It's called the prosperity Gospel

      August 24, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  11. Kevin McClellan

    Beck and these Christian Zionists hate Jews and believe that unless every single Jew on Earth converts to Christianity, they will all burn in Hell !!! They are using Jewish people and the State of Israel. Remember those "goodly people who made lampshades and soap ??

    August 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  12. YeaWhatHeSaid

    ^^yea what he said!!! please please take glen beck and never let him set foot back on our soil, he is a political celebrity that rants and raves to get attention and thats all. It is outrageous that we ever let him on tv with all the brain washing he tries to do by pretending to be a patriot, hes just a moron with a microphone and nothing more. It deeply disturbs me that this man is alowed a voice box to spew his garbage on the masses, unfortunatly Israel will probably realize that very soon and send him back but maybe he will jump on some other bandwagon and go to some other country and torment their people asap...we can only hope.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  13. Jay Garth Jr

    Talmudic falsehood is at the root of Zionism, Judaism, Judeo Christianity. No Bible Christian can possibly support the Israeli State of tyranny. Give us the money they say but don't try to talk us about Jesus Christ. LOL Without Christ you are doomed and you know it!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • NJBob

      Yeah, right.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • PROUD Jew

      @Jay Garth Jr – You speak almost as convincing as Reverend Jim Jones of the People's Temple, David Koresh, or Warren Jeffs.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      @ Proud Jew......no, you're wrong.....Mr Garth isn't convincing at all.......

      August 24, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • AGuest9

      Doomed to... an imaginary place? LOL!!!

      August 24, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • jimtanker

      No I dont know it. And neither do you. You may BELIEVE that you know, but you have no evidence to support your claim. You are just guessing.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  14. regertz

    God, please keep him there and not here. Though really Israel...This sack of crap is not your friend.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • rachel

      please you can keep him.

      how can you stand that racist inthe US?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      Rachel......we can't.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  15. Rabbi Green

    The Jewish people could care less about Glenn Beck, he is a muckraker and should be ignored....

    August 24, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Mike

      Agreed.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  16. TK

    Jewish friends–Don't allow the nutty Evangelical Christians to use Israel to advance their own agenda. Evangelical Christians = American's biggest kooks.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • AGuest9

      Right up there with much of the Tea Party.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  17. PROUD Jew

    As far as I am concerned, evangelical Christians are Satan's little helpers. I've had numerous evangelical Christians try their darndest to get me to convert. And my response to them was very simple, "Why would I want to convert from Judaism to Christianity when my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc. were literally SLAUGHTERED by a Christian-based faction known as NAZI GERMANY or the evil THIRD REICH??" I love it when these evangelical Christians try to convince us that those of us whom do not worship their messiah, Jesus Christ, will burn in hell. My answer to that, "NO, It is the believer of false idols, prophets, messiahs that will BURN IN HELL. It clearly states in the Ten Commandments – I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME !!"

    August 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • The Man

      Are you serious?!?! You are representative of everything that is wrong in this world. Some people from a group do something horrible and thus that entire segment of society is 'the devil incarnate'. Real nice. Isn't that what anti-Semitic people do? You are the worst of the worst hypocrites. Sad.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      All issues of conversion aside, my question to Jews would be; "......do you REALLY trust Glen Beck in a situation such as this?"

      I mean, we ALL know that he is an exploitive (ahem) 'individual'. If you don't understand that he's doing this as part of his personal agenda, then you've already been 'hoodwinked'. Somewhere, somehow, Beck has already calculated that this rally is going to benefit HIM.

      Those who participate are simply pawns to be used and cast aside when he's done. Your choice at to whether or not you get 'turned-out' for Beck's self-interests.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • NJBob

      Who cares what the 10 Commandments say? The story about the Jews being enslaved by the Egyptians and then escaping by crossing the Red Sea is false. It never happened. Not a shred of evidence exists for it. Christians and Jews arguing about religion is like two people arguing about whose myth is most valid. It would be comical if it didn't cost so much in terms of suffering and lives lost.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • PROUD Jew

      @The Man – And what are you? Maybe a Nazi sympathizer? Or maybe into Holocaust denial? Hmmm...????

      August 24, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • John

      All of you idiots make life hell for rational people.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Carlos A. Garcia

      Just be patient. These are the same people who sunk Europe in a thousand years of cruelty, killings and total ignorance.
      Remember Torquemand in Spain. Savonarola in Italy, etc, etc. These are the present threat in America. In Germany they would be called NEO NAZIS. But they are called NEO CON. Maybe of fear to get somebody upset. Bachmann, Palin, Beck.
      God, give us patient.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • liz

      It's about the land of Israel. They couldn't care less for it's people

      August 24, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Ruth

      Christians have been slaughtering us for 2000 years. Why would we want their false friendship now?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  18. NJBob

    If you want an argument against religion, this provides it. Religions - divisive, false, manipulative, and utterly useless.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • NJBob

      Oh wait, I forgot exploitative and irrational.

      August 24, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • BL

      Religion is the enemy of spirituality. It's about process, dogma, ritual, hierarchy and mythology. It can only survive by separating and dividing. Billions of people killed, displaced or injured in it's name. The single most destructive force in history and one day, may destroy us all.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • The Man

      Yeah. Terrible. They show up on the scenes of catastrophes and disasters to help rebuild homes and feed people. They gather up food and ship it to starving nations. They build hospitals that take in the poor and needy in underdeveloped countries. They are the most horrible people I can think of, those evil Christians.
      But I'm sure you guys don't do all those awful things.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • NJBob

      @The Man - Yeah, and they do it because they expect to be rewarded for it. Just because someone does something useful doesn't mean his motives are pure.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  19. Samah Abdull

    I do not support the racist GB but me and many of my friends Arab- Israelis, do support Israel!

    we do not believe the Arab-Israeli conflict is a war over land or religion, but it is a clash of ideas.
    Israel, as a Western liberal democracy, extends equal rights to all of its citizens, regardless of religion or race. Muslims have more rights in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmFvKCXiQSM

    August 24, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  20. Nick

    Oy.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:51 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.