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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. SurRy

    Glen Beck. Too crazy for even Fox Entertainment.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  2. Mike E.

    Wow, he's almost like a movie pyscho vilian isn't he? He's a Hollywood script come to life; the man has serious issues.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  3. Steve

    A shameless American

    August 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  4. Ed Galbraith

    To "The Word": You need to spend more time UNDERSTANDING what you criticize. Life is more complex than your mystical "creationist" nonsense would allow.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  5. beth

    All his talking about Na zis everywhere and inappropriate comments have long had me feeling he is no friend to Jews or to America in general. The guy is a joke but even though he is a joke he has hurt our country. I really wish he had never been on TV or radio.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  6. Irene

    Mr. Murdock's lap dog on a mission. His problem though is that Israeli citizens are much better educated than his usual crowd.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  7. Vulture0911

    Amazing the "we support Israel crowd" are mainly on the right and the majority of Jewish Americans are on the left.
    The extreme racist wing of the republican party would easily identify with the goals of the Nazi party. Most Jews in the US see this and do not want to be a part of it, while the republican party does not take any steps to rid itself of this wing of the party.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  8. Marc

    Evangelicals want to convert everyone, why would Jews be any different? Besides, he's a Mormon. Jesus speaks to him personally in the Temple. You don't think Jesus could have told Glenn to go to Jerusalem and start converting people? They don't even have to be alive. The Mormons can baptize dead people. Glenn just needs to be on scene when the war breaks out to do a bunch of dead body conversions.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Evangelicals want to convert everyone, why would Jews be any different?"

      You dolt, go and research the topic on Jewish Conversion.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  9. Ed Galbraith

    Advice to Jews: Fundamental Christian support is all about Jesus Christ and the "second coming". That's the beginning and the end of it. Do not get in bed with theses people.

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

      Absolutely, and Mormons pretty much have the same idea.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Mike

      "Step into my parlor" said the spider to the fly......

      August 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Amom

      If you mean do not fornicate, Christians already know that.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  10. chris

    After having robbed this world of so many GOOD people, it would be nice if some Muslim terrorists do us a favor for once while Beck is over there. If you know what I mean...

    August 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Going John Galt

      No I don't know what you mean....are you wishing death on a fellow American? Is this the tolerance that the left always preaches about?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  11. THe Word

    Don't be fooled by mainstream religion, they have corrupted the perfect teachings of the one true God, and for you atheist I feel sorry for you, because you rely one reasoning to explain the world around you but you are so stupid and conceded that you over look the fact that you choose to believe in a theory that makes no sense and is in essence completely preposterous in nature. Just question yourself for a second, the theory of creationism=a creator created everything, Evolution=we came from nothing. It seems the former makes more sense won't you say.

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

      Please be a troll elsewhere.

      K thx.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Jason

      Don't feel sorry for atheists. We surely don't feel sorry for your kind.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Vulture0911

      @ The Word. I choose not to believe in your version of Santa Claus.

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

      So this is someone that is seriously deranged by religion saying that those merely misled by religion are in trouble? Also, either English isn't your first language or you need to brush up on some pretty basic words, like "conceded" vs "conceited".

      August 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Judith Simone Rogers

      NAH is what I was thinking. Evolution it is! G-D created us with a brain and that is why we KNOW we evolved – but I guess you didn't!

      August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • ZarGoth

      You are deeply confused, sir...

      August 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Zapparules

      So... creationism=a creator created everything, Evolution=we came from nothing – and the former makes more sense?
      Seriously?
      So who created the creator? Where did 'he' come from?
      Most who believe in evolution say 'I don't know' when asked about the initial start of it all. We admit we don't know. Creationists seem to want to believe they know. Thay believe they KNOW God created everything – but can't explain – or really even comprehend God.
      And then creationist go on to use God to make up rules for all others to follow.
      So which makes more sense? To say 'I don't know – yet still love and forgive they neighbor. Or say; 'I know it had to be God and God tells me/us what we need to do.' ?!?!?

      August 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Faqi

      Some of the most bigoted people on the face of this planet are religious fanatics and I don't just mean extreme fanatics that blow themselves and worse, other people to bit's in the name of a god.
      More wars have been started and more people killed in the name of religion than from any other cause.
      The current bunch of 'Gods' are just the latest in a long series of 'Gods' that have existed worldwide for tens of thousands of years, where are they now?
      Being a total agnostic doesn't mean that you are an irrational or a violent person, people like that don't have any religious bigotry to fall back on for a start.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  12. Tom Howard

    This clown needs to either go away or get an education in the areas about which he likes to speak. Just some of the very basics will decrease his incessant screwball statements.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Got any examples or are you just making up stuff?

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

      To Uncouth Swain – When stupidity is a sufficient explanation, there is no need to have recourse to any other

      August 24, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  13. Johan S

    Israel has universal health care. How can conservatives support a country that offers healthcare to poor people?

    August 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Tom Howard

      Well said Johan. This idiot is like Palin - looking for attention and money - in no particular order.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Paulo

      You don't understand. Beck is going to swoop in and tell the Israelis what they are so obviously doing wrong and that the Jeebus won't take them into Heaven if they continue their evil universal healthcare ways!

      August 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Gast

      I think you may have just made my day! Good one! 🙂 Only US conservatives have a problem with taking care of members of their own community while thinking that universal healthcare if evil. Now Beck on the other hand . . . now that would be a good definition of "bad for the population".

      August 24, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  14. barabra

    we jews coudnt ask for a better friend.
    god bless mr beck
    proud american jew

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

      Well said. Thank you and God bless you.

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

      No, you could. You could ask for much better. Beck hates Jews.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  15. p41

    A devil speaking on the behalf of devils.

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

      You sir are an idiot.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  16. Johnson

    I think his Mormonis is something Israel should be very concerned about if they have studied this so-called religion.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Gast

      Actually, we've got a great relationship with Israel. But thanks for caring. 🙂 Here's hoping Beck doesn't screw that up!

      August 24, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  17. joe

    god bless mr beck he is not a political correct person he syas it the way he sees it

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

      As long as he can make buckets of money. That's the ONLY reason he does things like this. Do you REALLY think he cares about Israel? He only cares about cash.

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

      Great definition of the basic problem with him. He actually believes the crap he spews. Ok...... he's an honest idiot????

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

      robin: "As long as he can make buckets of money. That's the ONLY reason he does things like this. Do you REALLY think he cares about Israel? He only cares about cash."

      And you know this how? Are you a mind reader? Are you in touch with Glenn Beck's true feelings, his innermost thoughts, his intentions and his beliefs?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Matt

      Joe, he says it the way YOU see it. He is nothing more than an entertainer and he makes his millions catering to his audience.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Matt

      Glenn Beck earned 40 million dollars in 2010. It's much more lucrative to entertain than actually spread news.

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

      Beck's just looking for a new circle of influence to glom onto, now that Fox has cast him aside.

      He doesn't care about Jews or Israel, it's just a perfect issue for him, because he can stir up evangelical christians (who are overwhelmingly pro Israel) while still connecting with wealthy Jews. And he's constructed a narrative where Obama is out to destroy Israel and the Jews, so that makes it a triple play for him.

      If Israel lies down with this dog then they shouldn't be shocked when they get up with fleas.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • SurRy

      So do schizophrenics. What's your point?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Judith Simone Rogers

      And Beck is BLIND!

      August 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  18. Wil in LA

    Attention all evangelical christians and jews. Please move to Israel as soon as possible. It is were you are meant to be.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      hmmm, no

      August 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  19. Eric

    All you Beck haters can go to h***. You are more jealous of him than anything.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Tom Howard

      Jealous????? Of a completely ignorant fool??? Methinks not. Nor do I hate him. No deranged soul is deserving of being hated by a fellow human being - even Glenn Beck!!

      August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Matt

      Jealous of his bank account, sure. Who wouldn't want money for being an ignorant pompous d-bag? He needs to return to his glory days as Captain Beck on morning radio.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • beth

      stunned, sickened, shocked, disgusted, annoyed, angered, offended, and upset by him but never jealous, unfortunately. I wish he were a good man. He sadly is not.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Roger Amundson

      Who cares what Glenn Beck is doing? Why does the media even report on what he is doing? He's a self-centered nobody.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Jason

      Of all the right wing nuts, I'd say Beck is the one with the least to be jealous of. He's more of a pathetic figure than anything.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Eric

      You guys protest too much. Yes, you are jealous. Maybe you really don't know what Glenn Beck is all about, and it's you who are the dirtbags.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Gast

      Jealous. That's rich. I'm repulsed. And I'm embarrassed that he's hoodwinked so many people with his delusions and that he's associated at all with my religion. Even people I am friends with who know him admit that he's open to them that it's all for entertainment and he doesn't believe half the crap he spews. Makes me sick. Wolf in sheep's clothing.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  20. SCOTO

    There is no cause on the face of this earth that can be helped by having this disgraceful individual associated with it.

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

      scoto: "There is no cause on the face of this earth that can be helped by having this disgraceful individual associated with it."

      And why is he disgraceful? Because he has different political views than you?

      How tolerant and open minded of you.

      Bravo.

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

      Nah, he's disgraceful because he's capitalizing on people's fear. He's polarizing this country's population, spreading hate and division, for the purposes of making millions of dollars.

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

      That's right Matt. He has hurt America very terribly. I think the debt ceiling may not have been an issue without him stirring up politically uneducated people to think they know politics with his lies and hate.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:44 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.