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. Dan Jones

    I have never really listened to Glen Beck and therefore know nothing of the man. I hope he is sincere in what he is doing and not just taking advantage of the political wave of support for Israel that is happening in America. All polls show that America's support for Israel is increasing as even our leaders demonstrated when they gave Netanyahu about 30 standing ovations. I do wish it had been the president in Jerusalem expressing America's solidarity to Israel and to the Jewish people, but regardless, I am glad it is being expressed. Like it or not, Beck is expressing what the majority of Americans feel and would express on their own if they could, namely support for Israel.....

    August 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  2. Rocky

    Beck is a Mormon? I mean Moron? I knew there was some reason I didn't like him. Anyone that would join that psycho heretical cult deserves to be scrutinized well.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • george

      As opposed to your psyco heretical cult?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • John

      It's true... Not something he wants anyone to know.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  3. Sortakinda

    YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST: Don Lemon on the HLN is poised to be the next Glenn Beck, as agitator for people of color and gay people, regardless of the facts in the particular case. Just listen to his questioning of his guests as sub for Joy Behar. "Can I add a little gasoline to your fire?"says Lemon.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  4. tgavin

    DC Rally was not politically "charged". CNN, why are you hate mongers? Why do you hate those who dont believe what you do?

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

      GB is a hater and he promotes hate.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  5. RJR

    True, "Jesus was born, lived, and died a Jewish man," but he rose a Christian

    August 24, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • george

      Not true. Christianity had not been invented at the time of Jesus death. And about the "rising" myth........

      August 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Cult of Personality

      @RJR – Oh really? Did Jesus Christ really rise? And what's more, as a Christian? Well then, I guess your God will rise again, huh? Question for you – When will Jesus rise again? Maybe like, "the South will Rise Again..."? You, and the rest of your fellow believers are a bunch of disillusioned morons. Saying Jesus will rise again, is like saying Rev. Jim Jones will rise again !!!

      August 24, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  6. Hobbitea Baggins

    Yes.....because everyone who hates the Jews and the state of Israel, love right wing conservative Christians!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  7. Realist

    Beck has his head up Hymie's ass. He loves his role as a dog pet for jews. Pathetic.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  8. Eric

    Can you believe all the hating going on out there? And I bet pretty much all the haters didn't ever watch an entire Beck show, but believe the liberal media's depiction of the man.

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

      I DO watch Beck for both laughs and horror. The man's an ignoramus. And he doesn't care about the Jews at ALL–he merely hates Arabs. Get real, Eric. Pathetic you fall for his tripe...

      August 24, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Learner

      Eric, Watch this. GB is a hater. Period. Look at the way he talks. Just promoting hatred. Check out the link. http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200912090042

      August 24, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  9. coder

    using religion to sway and control humans – wow – what an original concept....

    August 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • John

      I've watched his show and was once a Mormon. He is simply a nut job. Only concerned about making money by telling people who and whay they should fear. It's time for serious people to handle our serious problems.

      I've watched his show several times. It was completely fear based. Like our two parites, no real answer, just simple finger pointing on who is to blame. We need answers and leadership, not individuals looking to make millions and claiming to be out for the people.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  10. ethiopian fallasha

    These european jews have no claim to the land of Israel, their history plainly says that, but beck and john hagee refuse to study that history.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  11. MrHanson

    Libtards would just love to see Israel fall.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Liberal and Would Have It NO OTHER WAY !!!

      @MrHanson – Speak for yourself MORON !! I am a proud liberal and I send at least $10K per year in charitable domations to an organization known as Yad Ezra V’Shulamit. I love the people of Israel, what they stand for and what they represent.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Hobbitea Baggins

      Speaking of Tards....

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

      Any proof?

      August 24, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  12. John

    Beck is not a Jew? He believes like all mormons that God lives on a star, dark skin is a curse (you become white when you get to heaven) and he is simply a nut job. World would be a better place without Mr. Beck!!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  13. YAHWEH

    I am the Lord, Your God, and Ye Shall All Burn in Hell Unless You Convert to Judaism...LMAO !!!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • MrHanson

      Did he say that? Ya I didn't think so.

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

      you ignorance borders on laughable. Judaism is the ONLY monotheistic religions that strongly DISCOURAGES conversions from other religions.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  14. Erky

    Don't Mormons believe that Native Americans are descendants of a lost tribe of Israel?. The only Christians that fervently support Israel are the evangelical types, since they think this is going to win them brownie points with God, and they are going to get raptured. Perhaps Mr Beck should try to convince the Native Americans that they are in fact Jews, and convince the Israeli's to let them return there and take over the properties of the Palestinians? It can't be any more absurd than what is happening in Israel right now.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  15. Jewish and Proud

    JewsFraud wrote: "Jews should not worry as long as they can control the USA economy and politics in their hands..." OH REALLY? My, my, I didn't know Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama, John Boehner and Harry Reid were all Jews, much less our elite super-wealthy citizens such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, etc. Could've fooled me idiot !!!

    August 24, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • notasterisk

      Ben Bernanke IS jewish.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  16. erich2112x

    Beck's viewers need chalkboards and graphics just to understand him like 5th graders.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  17. pt6071

    Israelis are right to be concerned over Beck using them for his own political agenda. Hopefully they'll learn to ignore him the way we've learned to in America.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  18. trigtwit...America's favorite tard baby

    ... drool ...

    August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  19. jcey

    How was Beck's DC rally "politically charged"? Because the media suspected the faith based rally would turn into something politically charged? Then when the rally turned out to be nothing more than a faith based rally, some in the media still tried to portray it as political. I am by NO means a Beck supporter. However, I was stuck watching it at work and saw nothing political in the message. Quite frankly, I was actually moved by it.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  20. Sortakinda

    "Pat Summitt has Dementia, Will Coach." Glenn Beck has dementia, and the media will follow his every blathering.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:44 am |
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About this blog

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.