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. GleenBeckisaClown

    He lost his GOLD!!!. That is why he is there. He is a Big F8&^%$ CLOWN.!!

    August 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually, he probably sold his gold for a huge profit and probably made more money in that one day than you will for the rest of your life. But that's how it goes.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Tom Howard

      Hey Lycidas, so making a bunch of money is the end goal of your life?? My sympathies....

      August 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Lycidas

      If I cared Tom, I would accept them.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  2. joe

    beck wass a 100% right when he compared reform judiasm to islam.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • only_you_are_right

      joe, you are an innocent bigot because your brain is as big as beck's!

      August 24, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Gibberwocky

      I'm a reform Jew. I have never had any urge to blow myself or others up to make a political point. So, bite me.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  3. joe

    its amazing to see how these liberal anti semites are calling mr beck a racist when they are the biggest racists these liberals hate israel and the jewish people.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Jason

      Perfect example of the stupidity this clown brings out in people.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • thunder

      JOE, I hope you're a troll otherwise you're very ignorant.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Henry

      No, joe, I don't hate the Jewish people. I hate what Israel does and how we continue to support them. I used to cheer for Israel in 1967 during its war. That ended for me a long time ago when I started "growing a brain". You will grow yours soon too, I hope.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  4. frankenspine

    How could they possibly be torn? This man is truly disturbed.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  5. jordan

    This is what will happen if you vote for someone like Perry or Bachmann for President.This is why religion should not be mixed with politics.I have no respect for Beck and I am Jewish.I am the son of a Holocaust survivor.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Kind of hard to separate the two fully though. We do vote ppl in that have a certain faith and they will let that faith direct some of their thinking.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • joe

      u have no respect because u are a typical liberal secular jew that hates religious people,u would rather vote for a liberal anti semite

      August 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Easy Joe, you are gleaning a lot of accusations from very little info.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Henry

      @ joe – Lighten up Joe. I can see your righteous anger shining through. Chill! Life is not always about confrontation and responding angrily and out of emotion. You are a poopie head, no you are a poopie head, no you are a poopie head.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • John Hand

      Jordan, do you care, repeat, CARE about Israel? If you do, you should feel that IT IS IMPORTANT to mix religion and politics. You see, the way it looks nowadays, only the American CHRISTIAN community is supporting Israel. It sure looks like the ADL isn't, nor Hillary, Obama and definitely that turkey, no turnkey, Jimmy Carter. Don't know if you were around in Oct '73, but is was RICHARD NIXON, Repubican and Christian, who sent C5As carrying heavy military equipment to Israel when it looked in the early days like Israel might go down in defeat. Republicans, and Christians, are the best friends Israel has, and it looks like more so than American Jews. Sad situation, isn't it? And Beck? Doing far more good than bad, and since he is religious and supports Israel, subject to attack by Democrats, Aetheists, and some of the dummies on here. And I use my REAL NAME and will face up to any idiot that for instance, tries to use the word RACIST against me if I say I do not support the building of mosques (enemy forts) in America.

      August 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • hayim


      August 26, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  6. MUTI


    August 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Spiffy


      August 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Ben-Ami

      You are delusional if you think someone like Beck is a friend of Irsrael. He is an psychotic ego-maniac whose sole purpose in life is to get exposure (and money) for himself. I have many Israeli friends and they are liberals who are connected to many US based liberals and they are the true friends of Israel, not the conservative hypocrites.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • YBP

      Pushy? Overbearing? Obnoxious? Says who?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom


      August 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jason

      This is pretty much Beck's goal: to sway wealthy Jews who are strongly interested in the fate of Israel to treat "liberals" as the enemy of Jews and Israel.

      I don't think it will have much traction over all. American Jews are typically educated enough and politically aware enough to see through this phony. I don't think the same tactics that work on evangelicals will work quite as well, even on the very devout.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Patriot_765

      Saddly, never.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • hayim

      I AGREE

      August 26, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  7. Steve

    Maybe he can stay in Israel if he loves it so much, or at least maybe we can prevent him from coming back to the U.S.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  8. Pat

    Why hasn't this clown been sterilized???

    August 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • AntiPalinAlaskan

      They don't make small enough surgical instruments for the job.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  9. cecilia

    I just realized how nice television has been lately since he has been gone and now here he is again – same fool
    go away again beckster – the Jewish community does not need you. They are all good people – you know, the kind you know nothing about

    August 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  10. Jonboy

    This has less to do with supporting Israel and more to do with hating Islam.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • YBP

      Exactly. You always have to read between the lines when a religious fanatic does something strangely out of character. I notice that CNN didn't cover the Muslim point of this circus act.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  11. greg

    funny that he gets more viewers on his website TV station than CNN

    August 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • thunder

      OK – where's your facts on that? Give us your sources.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  12. RichS

    We are all on God's hit list, but He made a way to be taken off that hit list.
    NO ONE has been able to disprove the Bible. Many have tried, and found it
    to be true. Prebiased thinking will stand in your way of even trying to disprove it,
    and you will end up following the crowd. Broad is the way that leads to dectruction
    and narrow is the path that leads to salvation.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • jersvette

      It has not been proved either unless of course you believe in blind faith.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Jason

      Rich, virtually every "fact" in the bible has been disproved, which is why it is now regarded by scholars as either a book or metaphor, or pure myth.

      It's about as credible a historical source as Beowulf or The Odyssey.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • fastball

      Disprove to me that there are no leprechauns, Easter Bunnies and Santa Claus.
      Prove to me that you don't hit your wife. Prove to me that you're not a drug abuser.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Faqi

      You must be kidding my friend. The bible is just a book of legends, its as true as Santa Clause and the tooth fairy.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  13. bazzoola

    Yet another sign.

    Israel > USA

    You've got to take permission from your master.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  14. CaliforniaBC

    Is he some self-appointed religious savior now? What is it with this guy? I swear the next thing he'll do is try to convince his followers that he's the second coming.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • YBP

      i heard that he was caught in bed with Marcus Bachman. They were on a different kind of Missionary endeavor.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  15. PhillyMark

    He's using Jews, just as he uses America to further his desire to appear useful and make money. This guy is desperate now because he lost all his sponsors. If I was Israel, I'd throw him out. You don't need a bigoted, racist, fanatical, hubris, goofy person like this blowing the trumpet for Israel. Joe McCarthy would be proud, Beck.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Lost his sponsors? Heck, all those ppl that got on board with the gold sponsors that were on his program are probably laughing all the way to the bank now. Funny how certain news agencies were trashing Beck for supposably suckering in poor old ppl to buy gold back when it was around $800. But you don't hear from those same agencies now that those ppl can sell their gold for a $1000 profit.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Faqi

      Well said Mark, you took the words out of my mouth, I second everything you say about the Nut Job Beck.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  16. Dave

    What do you expect form a man who thinks he will get his own planet when he dies.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • YBP

      The origins of that "belief" is a real hoot.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  17. RLR

    Don't trust him Jewish community; Beck is a bigot and a racist.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      So says the person without any facts and is clearly biased.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Ben-Ami


      August 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  18. 21k

    well, at least he's not here.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  19. solowd

    Beck doesn't support Israel, he supports himself, and is willing to use Israel to gain followers

    Obama supports Israel, but he has the balls to say what everyone is thinking (GIVE THEM THEIR F****ING LAND BACK). At least Obama has the respect to say what he's thinking.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • manbearpig10

      Seriously, obama has the respect to say what his is thinking or is it what the teleprompter tells him to say. Maybe beck has the balls to go to isreal. Do you think that our president has the balls to actually go to isreal.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • bloocanary

      mbp, you are aware that the president visited Israel in 2008, correct? so apparently, yes, he does have the balls.

      August 24, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  20. Aaron Bensimon

    He shouldn't be allowed in The State of Israel. The UK has a list of banned persons, Israel should take its lead.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
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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.