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. Alina77

    Glenn is going to bring his "nut- wagon" to Jerusalem? Good I hope he stays there (like for ever).

    August 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  2. Zero Gods

    Hey Israel, if you like what you hear, consider inviting Mr. Beck (and one million of his closest friends) to move to Israel. His followers have done so much to help the US that I think it's only fair if we share them with you. Keep them as long as you like, no hurry to get them back to us.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Patrick Ward

      I see what you did there nice.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • oferdesade

      funny remark. i'm sure we have just as much trouble with beck & his ilk as u do. difference is, we dont bully our subversives into political correctedness by making a joke of them. we realize there r lives @ stake. & let's face it, sad as it is some of what he says is right – reform rabbis are mostly left wing (vis-a-vis israeli politics) to the same extent that habad is right wing. is that very different from the catholic church that is so anti-israel? or the baptist church? thank the borges, dont deny them.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  3. Jesus was born, lived, and died a Jewish man

    People, many things are going on right now.... Christians when they study what Jesus was studying they will study the Torah, the old testament and celebrate Shabbat on Friday/Saturday not Sunday. Jesus' real name is Yeshua..... Jesus/Yeshua was born, live, and died a Jewish man. FACT. He was not even "Christian". Only love and self-love will help us all with the Eternal. Btw.... Back then the ones who ruled and killed were the Romans not the Jews... Jews had very little rights in and the Romans were the ones that cricified. Jews did not kill Jesus/Yeshua. That would mean that his mother, his family, his friends, his followers and even Jesus/Yeshua himself killed him! Think people think! Don't repeat ignorant false teachings just because they told you not to question!..... We now have the Roman Catholic Church AFTER the Roman empire seized to exist!!!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • CNNcommentersAREretarded

      blah blah

      August 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Lemmy

      There is NO evidence he ever existed. Silly fairy tale. Grow up.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  4. DBD

    I hope you all know that Bleck is a professional comedian right? What he says on tv or in public is intended for entertainment purposes and nothing serious about it. Don't take life too serious my friends. You won't make it alive anyway!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Lean6

      Quite the joker he may be, but you had better take him seriously by virtue of the looney folks who take his irresponsible speech to heart...as calls to action.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  5. John _Atlanta GA

    Anyone that has anything to do with this clown is simply a fool.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Lean6

      Maybe we'll all get lucky and BECK will be torn DURING the Jerusalem rally.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  6. Reality

    There are always economics built into one's beliefs. For example, is Susan Jacoby an atheist because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject? Unless she and others in the business of making good income from books, etc. on religion, secularism, or atheism take a vow of poverty, we will never know.

    BTW, Glen Beck "earned" $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

    and from guidestar.org

    Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.
    Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr
    Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr
    Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr
    Erica Brown $134,221/yr
    Eboo Patel $120,000/yr.
    Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?
    Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

    August 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  7. Jewish Convert

    I am a Jewish convert – I converted from Catholicism to Judaism. My opinion – The Pope is the devil. His adorned crown is even enscribed with the number of the beast, '666'. Who the heck wants to worship that?

    August 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • RichG

      I do

      August 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  8. jimtanker

    I read on Faux News that David Berkowitz isn’t going to try for parole because Jesus has forgiven him for killing 6 people.

    That is the epitome of the chrsitian religion. Do what you want and you will be forgiven no matter what.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Eh??

      Actually I'm pretty sure that's NOT what Christianity is about. You CAN be forgiven if you genuinely repent (note its not a given), it certainly isn't "do what you want and everything will still be OK".

      August 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  9. John

    Why must the media continue to give attention to absolute alterior motived morons like this one? Why does the media continue to promote hatred in this country, and devote attention to people like this who promote it? Shame on you. This world lacks leadership in a big way, and we continue to devote attention to these fake, unintelligent hate mongers. Wake up people and think for yourselves, this is rediculous! Its crap like this that almost put an idiot like Sara Palin in the white house.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Aces

      Solidarity with Israel is promoting hatred? That's an interesting perspective.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • oferdesade

      depends how u do it. you can express solidarity for israel, recognize its faults, revel in its strengths etc. without promoting hatred. you can express solidarity with palestinians without justifying terrorism, revel in the sociaal cohesion promoted by the arab culture etc. without promoting hatred...
      it's just as the man said: think 4 yourself! despise agendas and slogans.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  10. CNN On Line Commentator

    Beck's motives are difficult to find. But, if you peel away the layers, look at the statements he has made, then apologized for, a scary pattern emerges.

    Beck and FOX took pride on the controversy he created. Now, he is in Israel, a place where there is enough controversy. Beck is the last thing Jerusalem needs. Do people really believe that Beck is a peace warrior?

    August 24, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • jimtanker

      He's an entertainer trying to make money the only way he knows how. Dont read too much into it.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • CNN On Line Commentator

      Understood. But the "how" appears to be by creating controversy. The where and the "how" is what makes for a questionable objective.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • oferdesade

      he's not creating it. nobody buys what they're not shopping for.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  11. Naomi

    Evangelical Christians are the only true friends of Israel and Jews whom they can trust.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Jewsfraud

      Jews should worry as long as they can control the USA economy and politics in their hands

      August 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Jewsfraud

      Jews should not worry as long as they can control the USA economy and politics in their hands

      August 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Zenichi-Maro

      yeah, until Zombie God comes down from the rafters and starts pitching Jews into hell. Then you and your kind are all about "Hooray! We are saved! Look at the Jews burning in hell! HUZZAH!"

      please. modern Christians have about as much to do with Yeshua as apples have to do with gasoline. your support of Israel is for a very narrow and dominionist purpose, so stop pretending to be some kind of mensch who loves the Sons of Abraham.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • truthandbeauty

      Yes. History has shown that whenever Jews need someone they can trust, they can turn to christians.
      Or, is my history shaky? Or are some hoping to get past current difficulties and get right to armageddon.
      Ah. What am I saying. Beck has no political or other agenda, therefore we are safe. Right?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  12. Sortakinda

    Glenn Beck, choked up and crying, pauses and mentally counts how much money this effort might mean to him, keeping his flabby face and flatulent outpourings before the world.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  13. Yri

    This Jew is not torn at all; Beck is an idiot. The crickets' chirps at night are far more important than anything the has to say, ever.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  14. NYCJoe

    I have absolutely no problem with Glenn Beck and Fundamentalist Christians / Christian Zionists and welcome their efforts in Israel - and I'm the child of Holocaust survivors as well as Israeli. The notion that they are trying to convert Jews is one of the most absurd statements I've heard in a long time. Unlike other religions, Jews have been Jews for over 5,000 years and many nations over the years have tried to convert them. While there may be some loss at the margins, most Jews (even the not religious) understand that these other religions are relative upstarts compared to Judaism. Why go with an imitation when you already are part of the original?

    Glenn Beck - Welcome to Israel! Unlike President Obama, you've shown the decency and insight to understand and honestly consider the situation in Israel. And unlike President Obama, you've also taken the time to come to Israel. Judaism, by nature, is a religion that encourages discourse and debate, and we are very passionate about disagreeing with one another. That may be why Israel stands as the only Democracy in a part of the world where discourse is not encouraged.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Laughing

      Well you're right about one thing, I pa.ssionately disagree with just about everything you said!

      Seriously, if you give any cred.ence to this man, then you've been duped already. Please, try and see reason and don't let this hateful, anti-semetic pri.ck convince you he actually understands even a small detail of the s.ituation in the middle east.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • truthandbeauty

      Israel is not a democracy. If that were the case, then ethnic or religious background would not play a part in citizenship or rights. And when you have 3mm people with no rights because of their religion (christian or jewish) then so much for that.
      As a Jew, any time a christian says they're your friend, remember history.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Patrick Ward

      As a Christian I would like warn you about Glenn Beck no not every Evangelical is trying to convert Jews. But this man is not one of them he isnt more then a greedy attention who wants to make money off of the Israel. In America its carreer suicide not to support Israel. And their is nothing wrong with supporting Israel I certainly do. Do not welcome look up what he has said qritten about or illustrated about individual Jewish people. He displays descriptions and depictions of them are often as portraying a stereotype that would compare to Nazi propaganda posters. My girlfriend who Jewish believed the same as you until she did some research.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  15. joe

    most of these so called Jews that are constantly criticizing mr beck are the ones that are assimilated secular Jews that don’t practice Judaism but when it comes to criticizing beck they are suddenly representing Judaism, in reality they are representing the liberal secular religion not Judaism.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • truthandbeauty

      So you're saying the more religious the jew, the bigger the sucker?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  16. Jesus was born, lived, and died a Jewish man

    People, many things are going on right now.... Christians when they study what Jesus was studying they will study the Torah, the old testament and celebrate Shabbat on Friday/Saturday not Sunday. Jesus' real name is Yeshua..... Jesus/Yeshua was born, live, and died a Jewish man. FACT. He was not even "Christian". Only love and self-love will help us all with the Eternal.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Jimminy

      And that's why you hated him and killed him.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Zenichi-Maro

      i thought self-love would make you blind?

      JK, of course...i happen to agree with everything you have to say here, friend. how people claim to be a follower of a man whose name they don't even know is elusive to me...thanks for pointing out the historical name of the modern Jesus. Yeshua would appreciate your effort to compassionately educate.

      be peace,

      August 24, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Lmerr

      Zenichi-Maro – Directly attacking another faith, eh? I thought this sort of thing was offensive. I guess that is only if it is negative comment about Judaism, right?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  17. Lmerr

    Why is it Mr. Foxman thinks that Beck's comment "When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics" is "highly offensive and outrageous" but has no problem saying "conservative Christian political agenda"?

    August 24, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • CNN On Line Commentator

      Carefully look at Beck's wording: Reformed Judiasm is more about politics. He insinuates that religion is secondary.
      But, he says the Conservative Christian agenda. Here, he insinuates that the conservative Christians have an agenda. He does not make the religion secondary.
      Pay careful attention to this man's reasoning for doing anything that brings controversy. Maybe he should go help feed children dying of hunger. But, that will not help him reach his subtle objective.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Aces

      because he's a hypocrite and his political agenda is opposite of that of Beck's

      August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Lmerr

      I'm not a Beck supporter but I don't disagree with some things he has said either. Your opinion may be correct but to me, the word agenda makes this an ugly statement. I don't think there is a scheme involved. If he means that faith will impact how someone votes, that applies to every religion. Neither man should connect politics to another person's faith. Either they are both offensive, or neither. IMO.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  18. yoshi

    Keep on eye on people who do this – there's usually money involved. For a pastor, Hagee is one rich son of a b___ . Beck is just doing this for the ratings. Sure, Israel is an ally. But like any other country, they have their interests and we in the US have ours, so we need to treat them just like any other ally and not give them carte blanche. Their policy of building settlements on Palestinian lands for the benefit of a FEW has turned the ENTIRE Arab world against us. (Who you may have noticed, supply us with oil).

    August 24, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Jeremy

      If you think Settlements are the reason " the entire" Arab world dislikes the U.S you got your head in the proverbial sand..no pun intended.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • truthandbeauty

      No, it may not be the settlements that make the arab world hate jews.... just like it is not love of jews that brings beck and other christian evangelicals.
      But in the case of the arabs, israel has a chance to take away that excuse. With the christians, they theologically need to sacrifice the jews to get into paradise.
      You choose.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  19. Keith B

    “There’s an uneasiness in the community with evangelical support,” says Foxman. “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.”

    Well we are not full of ourselves are we ?

    August 24, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  20. ctb67

    The Man, because you know, only Christians can do charitable work. No other faith can do that. We work with multiple social action groups, take part in rehoming the homeless, feed numerous food banks with food grown in our community gardens. We send people once a month to New Orleans to work with the rebuilding efforts. We are working with hoarders that are being charged by the These are ongoing projects, not just during emergency times......But yea, it's all about you, your faith, yea I get it.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:34 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.