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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. buckup

    Isreal made a big mistake of letting this fascist nut case in their country.
    I guess they are ok with Beck's baseless nazi accusations against George Soros, who is Jewish and survived the nazi concentration camps. I am shocked Isreal would have so little deference to a holocaust survivor. Now in Jerusalem with Beck's close connections to government officials, he can claim legitimacy to his false accusations against Soros.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Paul

      I agree. I don't know what those people are thinking. They'd better be more selective with who they call allies.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • John Hand

      You defend George Soros? Unfortunate, because he is the kind of 'Jew" one could learn to hate. I don't know what goes through that perverted man's mind, but his actions are certainly not aiding Israel. He is for 'one-world government (THE UN) and the UN is NO SUPPORTER OF ISRAEL.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  2. Alex in NJ

    I don't care if Israel exists, I don't want anything bad to happen to Israelis, but I don't care if a Jewish State exists or not. I do care that our support of Israel has been the greatest recruiting tool we could ever have given to radical Muslims. It's not our fight. It is sad when any innocent people die but America must look out for America first and our support for Israel is simply not in our best interests. We need to declare neutrality in that conflict and end our aid to Israel.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • John Hand

      Alex in NJ. I rarely call names, and maybe this is not calling a name, but your IGNORANCE is showing. Israel is a 'recruiting tool' for Muslims, that is true. But why? Well, if your country is run for years, say 40 or more, by a dictator, who lives in palaces, has multi palaces, billions in foreign banks, and rules with an iron fist while the people live in poverty, what does he need? Well, he needs something to blame and a cause for the people to rally around so that the people will take their greivances out against that cause instead of the guy who is subjugating them. Does Egypt ring a bell? RING!!! How about Syria? RING!!! How about Libya? RING!!!!!! Wake up fool. Israel is just a device that the dictators and Imams use to keep the people under their thumb. Now the people are waking up, but after decades of BRAINWASHING, they still think Israel is their enemy. Every go look to see how many Peace prizes Israel has won for science, medicine and more? Now see how many have gone the billions of Muslims, even with their oil money. Muslim countries have done nothing, built nothing, and only their oil money keeps them going, while they import western products, and export terrorism.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Brian Smith

    When you can't trust your own rabbi, then that is the source of the problem right there. Do you know where your sons are?

    August 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  4. krehator

    I'm not saying anyone should, but if someone happens to shoot this idiot, I won't be sad. Just sayin...

    August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  5. me

    How can so-called intelligent people follow Beck to do such unintelligent thing? How could Beck support Israel who invests in technology and education while he derides Obama for even mentioning an attempt to do such, thinking it is Communism and anti-American? Are we intellectual idiots? I hope not!!!!

    August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  6. AntiPalinAlaskan

    It makes perfect sense that they'd be torn. Right-wing "pro-Israel" types like Glenn Beck are almost always closeted antisemites. They don't support Israel's existence out of any love for Jews or any belief that the Jewish religion or any of the world's varying Jewish cultures-they support it because, deep down inside, they want all the Jews in the United States to either convert to "the one true faith" or move TO Israel.

    Glenn Beck would likely have called Adolf Hitler "a bulwark against communism" had Beck been in any position of influence in the 1930's. People on his side of the spectrum never gave a damn about Jews or about any of the other victims of Naziism.

    The only way to truly defeat antisemitism is to work, with equal passion and commitment, for the defeat of all forms of bigotry and all forms of inequality and human exploitation.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Colin

      And the Isreali public voting out their minority right-wing religious parties would help, too.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • AntiPalinAlaskan

      I missed completing a sentence. It should have read "out of any belief that the Jewish religion or any of the world's Jewish cultures HAVE ANY RIGHT TO SURVIVE".

      August 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  7. jjim

    beck is a right-wing nut who appeals to right-wing nuts. america is a country of right-wing nuts. so please, let's keep him in america where he has "native" supporters and nut cases to coddle him. israel has enough problems without this gasbag!

    August 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • bucnation

      Right on, brother. Beck should be given no time by anyone. He is a loser and a moron.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Do you realize that all of the Muslim Countries that are calling for Isreals destruction are right wing nuts also?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  8. Uthor

    Yet another "news" story that seems like an invention of The Onion...

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

      Not to mention the Daily Show and the Colbert Report when they come back.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  9. Rob

    Back in your hole, Beck!

    August 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  10. Saad Tanash

    Hello Beck, WOULD YOU PLEASE LEAVE JEWS ALONE , RESPECT THEIR PRIVACY IN THEIR LAND, AND WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO ISRAEL BE JEWS MORE THAN CHRISTIAN, KEEP YOUR COMPLEMENTS IN YOUR HEART, AND PLEASE RESPECT MUSLIM BECAUSE SOME JEWS FEEL COMFORTABLE TOWARD MUSLIM MORE THAN YOU, AND COMMENTS , MR.(CLOWNY).

    August 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • AntiPalinAlaskan

      Well put.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  11. Unknown

    ?Did Glenn Beck talk about how much he hated George Soros there?

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

      Perhaps that is because George Soros is retarded.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  12. me

    Beck and the Republicans are going to use this against Obama come next year............maybe next month when Congress gets back in session. It's all political. Watch and see. He may even run for president. Go President Beck!!!! Idiot!!

    August 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  13. stonedwhitetrash

    when Fox Newa cans someone for being to radical that person is way out in right field.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Alex in NJ

      I can't stand Fox but at least they ditched Beck. Can't say the same about MSNBC with their Beck of the Left Ed Schultz.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  14. kajd

    why is Glenn Beck getting any attention? He is a raving idiot!

    August 23, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  15. Colin

    This story epitomizes everything I loathe about religion and the Christian Taliban in the USA. You have a “charismatic” half-wit leader in Glenn Beck, behind who the small minded evangelical Christian sheep will herd, support for the right-wing Israeli political parties, who are every bit as barking mad and militant as Beck, and the overtone of religious expansionism and aggression against Muslims – where Islam itself is a theological basket case.

    As an atheist, one can just sit back and be amused (and a little frightened) at how all the sky-fairy believers want to jostle over who’s sky-daddy is stronger than who’s. A bit like watching your kids play in the backyard – the problem is they have real guns now.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • R Hughes

      Well said

      August 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Eric P

      It's the reason all religion is poisonous and dangerous mind control. When we have idiot ADULTS in this country, a majority, actually, who SINCERELY BELIEVE that there is an invisible old man in the sky who supposedly loves them, but is capable of judging and punishing them by condemning them to a horrific eternity in a hellscape of unimaginable proportions for "not believing" (make sense of that one...if you can), we are doomed as a species.

      I try to be respectful of people's ridiculous faith in nonsense, everyone has a right to do whatever makes them happy, but when these terrible people actually try to impose their will by using media, private funding, and sheer political and brute force I get an overwhelming feeling of rage boil up inside me. People like Glenn Beck, Rick Perry, Sean Hannity, the Taliban, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and all the rest of these Christian psychotic conservative dirtbags need to be stopped...and everyone who supports/agrees with them should be exiled. People who believe the same things these lunatics believe don't deserve to live in the United States.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  16. Paul

    Jews are smart enough not to follow the words of this @ssclown.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  17. Geoff

    One year after his renowned rally....Glenn who? Carrie Fisher had it right – celebrity is just obscurity biding its time. Mr. Beck is in Jerusalem, struggling to regain relevance. Hopeful the Israelis are too smart to hitch their cart to this dead horse.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  18. Grey, Atlanta

    First of all, comparing Reform Judaism to Muslim extremists is not just wrong, it’s ignorant. Reform Judaism is one of the most non-confrontational religious movements. They don’t want to confront anyone – be it Muslims, Christians, etc. The only people they are willing to confront is other Jewish denominations because they are accused of having distorted Judaism. Who is right – the Orthodox Jews or the Reform Jews (or perhaps the Conservative Jews, which is between the two) is another question, and is a matter of one’s perspective. However, I am yet to learn of one Reform Jew strapping on a suicide vest and intending to blow anyone or anything up. So much for Glenn Beck’s comment.

    Secondly, Glenn Beck is of course a nut case – whether you come from a Jewish Orthodox, Jewish Conservative, Jewish Reform, or any other Jewish background, if you do not see that Glenn Beck is doing this rally to promote himself rather than to promote the support of Israel, you are blind.

    Thirdly, most so-called Christian Zionists have only one goal – that is to convert Jewish to Christianity. According to their teaching, Jesus will not come back until Jews accept him. Well, buddies, I have news for you, and it’s not good news in your lingo – Jesus ain’t coming back because there’s no way in h3ll you are going to succeed in annihilating Judaism just like Hitler did not succeed in annihilating Jews. Jews would love to have real friends among Christians – the ones that do not have an anterior motive. Jews do not want to have “friends” who proclaim support for Israel and at the same time organize mission trips to Israel trying to persuade Jews to believe in the false Messiah – Jesus.

    August 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Austin

      Dunce. That is totally inaccurate. Christ will return to the earth REGARDLESS of what religion people are. Have some.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Grey, Atlanta

      Well, you have waited for 2,000 years for the false Messiah to return even though the Jewish Bible never mentions of the Messiah dying and then coming back. Keep waiting.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Colin

      So Austin, when Jesus comes, will he land in Central America in an airtight wooden boat?

      August 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Austin

      Colin: rest assured, I believe and KNOW it will come to pass. Christ has revealed these things to us time and again via the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, etc., but unfortunately, it is people like you who consistently reject it. So it seems, "man", that you are the unintelligent one. Have some more. You're welcome. Kthnxby.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Grey, Atlanta

      Austin, Allah revealed something completely opposite to the Muslims. They are just adamant about their revelation as you are about yours. There are just as many Muslims out there as there are Christians. Both groups are disillusion.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  19. dflye

    Apparently Mr. Beck is fulfilling the prophecy of some village in Israel missing their idiot, guess he's coming home to roost?

    August 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  20. From the valley of many gods

    Folks – Beck is pushing Mormon & Jewish relations. After all, The Book of Mormon says that "Jews" arrived in Central America in an air-tight submarine (centuries before such vessels were invented). Anyway, they met Jesus and became Mormon. Beck is a bizarre person. He is pushing an agenda and he is trying to rationalize his "Mormonism" under the guise of "being a patriot". Don't fall for his preaching – he is a classic MORMON CONVERT. I KNOW – I GREW UP MORMON IN UTAH AND HAVE WITNESSED THIS BEHAVIOR IN SO MANY OTHER MOROMONS.

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

      I've come to learn that those most bitter about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are former members, obviously like yourself. Also, you, being a former Mormon, ought to know (I bet you really do) that the Jaredites used airtight WOODEN BOATS, not submarines. Big difference, smarts. Lastly, it is people like YOU who prevent so many others from even considering listening to the missionaries who have dedicated TWO YEARS of their life to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. You, sir (or ma'am, whichever you prefer), are a pinhead. End of story.

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

      You are way over the top, bro. I hope you aren't my neighbor.

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

      So Austin, let me get this straight. You believe that a tribe of Jews arrived in Central America in airtight wooden ships a couple of thousand years ago, based on the supposed revelations by a sky-god to a failed treasure hunter with a bung leg in upstate New York......and he's a pinhead.

      Dear god, man, you are an idiot. You are f*king certifiably dumb. I cannot even evisage somebody stupider than you.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • WOW

      Airtight wooden boats eh? I bet that's pretty easy to believe when you also believe a man went up into heavan on a chariot of fire. Yea, that sounds more reasonable...

      August 23, 2011 at 10:36 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.