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. Gregory G Wied Jr

    As a jew, I am glad to get the support, but you'll have to forgive me for being wary of his agenda, or what he might or might not say.

    I think this rally would be much more appropriate, if it weren't being held by such a polarizing figure. Perhaps the President or some other religious leader, who can say "though we may have differences, we're there for you." Maybe this is what Beck will do and say, but I assure you, nobody trusts this to happen.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • rdg18

      Obama hates Israel. He has our UN rep vote against Israel every chance he gets. He also demands that Israel give up more land. What a friend Israel has in Obama.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • John


      Really???? You sound like FOX news stating for a fact that Obama hates Israel. Are you Obama? Do you know how he really feels? Sounds like you jump on any issue to make the man look bad. I'm sure you know for a fact that Obama was not born in ths country, right? You know for a fact that Obama got ur UN rep to vote against Israel?

      You simply don't know anything. Keep to the facts (what honest people do).

      Obama will be gone soon, so you don't have to worry about the black man running this country. Let's get Bush back, he did such a Great Job!!!

      August 24, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  2. Michael

    Jews that support Obama and his plan for Israel's destruction are IDIOTS !

    August 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Laughing

      So true, I mean why support a guy who wants to broker peace and actually work on compromise instead of hastening the second coming and armegeddon. Stupid liberals peaceniks, always wanting the killing to stop and spread of democracy, IDIOTS!

      August 24, 2011 at 10:37 am |

    anyone want to take any bets that Beck says something stupid, infuriates the crowd and magically disappears? fingers crossed

    August 24, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • HiddenShadows

      At least he is doing something. What have you done to help anyone? Yes I have done MY part so don't even go that way.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  4. sonofgadfly

    I wouldn't want to have anything to do with Glenn Beck.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • felicia

      Why the embodiment of hatred and racist sentiment is even allowed to appear is baffling. If he were simply a street corner clown spouting conspiracy theories it wouldn't be great. but a bit of a joke..

      However, this is a guy who demeans the very history of Judaism by comparing the slaughter victims in Denmark to the Hitler Youth and, completely unrepentant, further claims that those who object to such similes are no different from people who lead others to the gas chambers.

      And did anyone notice "Professor" Beck's chalkboard analogy of the G-20 protests and Kristalnacht? I fail to see the connection between murder and the destruction of more than 1,000 Jewish synagogues and businesses and vandalism at a public protest. Kristalnacht was just one step along the path of genocide. His behavior goes far beyond insulting. What he spouts is nasty and xenophobic.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  5. PlasticSam

    "Barton said Beck’s Mormonism is a plus because Israeli leaders are less wary that he has ulterior motives for supporting them." Sooooo then I'll compromise my Christian beliefs because Beck is such a good salesman. That's just great. We're a one world culture with a one world religion. Utopia at last!

    August 24, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  6. Jrod

    Why is it that our dumbest citizens always end up being our ambassadors abroad? *sigh*

    August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • HiddenShadows

      I hear nothing dunb being said. Just a bunch of hateful people posting their trash.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  7. Mcjeffster

    Belch is a hoser.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  8. fair and balanced


    August 24, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • mm

      OMG...such a horrible representative of our country!

      August 24, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • HiddenShadows

      Whats wrong with that? We make that decision every day.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  9. mm

    I am embarressed for our country that Glen Bleck is over there. As for Israel....they our like our sister or brother whom we love ... but don't always agree with. To say we have to blindly support them in everything is naive, and yes, even dangerous.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Kent

      "OUR sister or brother whom WE love"??! - I'd say you keep yer sisterly love to yerself ...

      August 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  10. george

    Well, at least we haven't had to listen to Beck's nonesense for a couple of months. Here's hoping it's years next time.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • mm

      unfortunately he is still broadcasting his radio show from over there.....luckily my radio has that button to hit to switch him off!

      August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  11. ByChoice

    "Some evangelicals believe events in Israel are crucial to ushering in Jesus’ second coming, while other Jews say evangelical Christians want to convert them"...The evangelicals believe that after Jesus' 2nd coming all Jews will be cleansed and converted to Christiianity. Beck just started the process!

    August 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  12. Ryan

    Beck is garbage. Always has been

    August 24, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  13. Realist

    Beck is an idiot

    August 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • HiddenShadows

      Give some examples or shut up. Your hate is sick.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  14. Riggan

    We do not always have to agree with each other on all matters to be able to support each other. If we have compassion and concern for each other, race and religion do not have to divide us. Instead, we can have respect for each others' beliefs, and discover ways to work together within those beliefs. It is only when we try to force our beliefs on others, grow our own resources at the expense of others, and assume airs of superiority that the problems start. I don't know what Beck's agenda might include, but the more we can start thinking about living in this world together instead of getting the best of the other guy (or country, or religion), the better off we will all be. Humanity is a single family, and it needs the diversity and strengths provided by all the cultures in order to flourish. Let's view that diversity as a positive that needs to be nourished rather than a negative to be destroyed.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • BRC

      It's a wonderful thought you have there, and it woudl truly make the world a better place. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. These blogs are a very small sample size for a statiscal aanlysis, and they are biased because there is a certain profile of people who are apt to comment (though the anonymous format does tame that bias a little), but even with the fact that it represents weak data- there is still a lot of crazy out on all sides of the aisle today. If everyone was willing to sit down, listen to other people's thoughts and ideas, and accept that if no one answer has more proof than the others, and noones hurting anybody else, we can get along just fine; life would be better. BUT, these blogs would be really a little bit boring, so at least we get some entertainment out of the deal for now.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Felecity

      I agree Riggan, rather than fight over what we don't agree upon - let's unite over what we do

      August 24, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  15. Hotspur

    Anything for a buck...Isn't that correct, Mr. Beck? Even if it means coming off the backs of Jewish folks.

    I hope you sleep well at night, Glenn Beck.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Jen

      How do you figure he's getting a buck out of this? He's paying for everything. You may want to do even just a little bit of research before you shout out incorrect, angry statements.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  16. Lviv

    My opinion of Israel dropped the minute I learned they invited that fake prophet over to talk. Any Jew who listens to him has no respect for Judaism and what Jews went through. Shame...

    August 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  17. Maimonida

    I worked with several Christian conservatives of Bush/Beck/Palin direction. They supported Israel because they because they believed that Israel was going to be some kind of launch pad for new Christ reserection. They were very brutal and unfriendly to only real Orthodox Jew in our group. They always talked down to him. They also despised everyone different: Chineese, French Catholic, Iraqi ,,,, me agnostic of Jewish descent.
    If we switch to politics nobody did so much evil to Israel as Christian supported President Bush. He started war that liberated Iran from standoff with Iraq. Time, money, and energy now is used to support Hamas, and Hasbullah and other hostile against Israel actions. This error was happily avoided with Bush senior who had brains on a cotrary to his son.
    So I understand why people of Israel are not thrilled to have Beck.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  18. Vaman

    he is STUPID

    August 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  19. Anchorite

    The only thing Beck has in common with some Israel supporters is a dislike of Muslims. Should anyone really be so quick to be proud they are united with someone by their hatred of someone else? It's morally reprehensible and not a solid basis for friendship.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  20. SueRH

    Glenn Beck is an idiot.

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

      Oh, thanks so much, Sue. I'm sure the world appreciates your cogent and penetrating analysis...

      August 24, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • SueRH

      You're welcome.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • HiddenShadows

      People like SueRH are not worth the time. Forget them.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • John

      Beck only cares about his bottom line... It's all about the cash. Made 20 million last year telling people how they should feel. His 15 min's are up.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:31 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.