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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. Upon this rock

    Let's get back to the Earthquakes and Hurry-canes here in our Country, you have to admit "something" is up. Does not the Bible predict these things? And for the fools who say "well men wrote the Bible" how do you explain that was written 2,000
    yeras ago is coming to pass. If just "men" wrote the Bible they wrote it to a tee because what is written is happening! HUH?

    August 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • William Burkholder

      you are a nut. so, there have never been hurricanes or earthquakes since recently? the bible has predicted nothing.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • satanbug

      the bible is a jumble of nonsense..filled with contradictions and proven falsities...try to predict any up coming event with the bible, anything...you can apply any nonsense after the fact and try to say it predicted something...god is a rediculous and childish notion on par with santa claus and superman...grow up...ohh the bible or nostrodamus: there wil be wars or rumors of war...there will be floods...Wow how insightful...how did they figure that???

      August 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      This is a living planet, with moving tectonic plates and an active weather system. Nothing new here.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • satanbug

      Show me anything the bibble predicted, anything....what does it predict for 8/24, 8/25, 8/26....anything....What is the powerball number gonna be? When I was a child I spake as a child...the bible is a mismash of nonsense...GROW UP!

      August 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • satanbug

      Show me anything the bible predicted, anything....what does it predict for 8/24, 8/25, 8/26....anything....What is the powerball number gonna be? When I was a child I spake as a child......GROW UP!

      August 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Dan

      You are officially the first asshat I've seen today to link earthquakes to retribution from your imaginary vengeance god. Congratulations on your ignorance.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Thomas

      GOD HAS SPOKEN TO ME!!! He has declared to me that the sun will rise in the sky tomorrow!! Behold unbelievers! Proof of this will be made plain to you when this miraculous prophecy comes to pass!

      Further instructions from God (as given to Me) will follow.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  2. Ha Ha !

    .Beck is nothing but a big fat racist idiot , who is making fun of Jewish people ! Any self respecting Jewish person in their right mind should not only not attend but should boycott anything this bigoted moron is associated with !

    August 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  3. David

    I say let the Christian Zionists, the Mormons, the Jews along with the Muslims duke it out and leave more room for free thinking Humanists. All the Abrahamic religions have the goal of converting the other, so let them have it out at Miggido, where their myth says it all will end.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  4. Voiceinthewind

    Glen Beck is the epitomy of Far Right Wing Lunatic Fringe which fits right in with what the Zionist Joos are doing to the Palestinians. After freedom for Syrians comes freedom for Palestinians. The Zionists Joos are going to need all the help they can get because Egypt is not there for them anymore and is a threat now as well as all other Arab countries and as the Arab countries gain thier freedom the world will demand that the Zionists Joos give Palestinians have thier freedom and thier land back time is on thier side now because the crimes of the Zionists Joos are becomming more apparent each day.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Ross

      Jews*

      August 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • amobius

      and the "joos" are supposed to go where exactly?

      August 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Joos? Oh that's just too rich.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • J.W

      i like to drink orange joos in the morning.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  5. Cassarit

    This is a bunch of self serving zionist BS. He's their loyal goydog. They created him they deploy him and they should take their theatrics of morality someplasce else.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  6. 3be1

    yet another zionist christian trying to prove he is more pro- israel than israelis themselves !!! what’s new???

    August 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  7. Patrick

    At one time, it might have been politically convenient and highly profitable for Israel to befriend evangelicals. However, they believe that Israel must be all but destroyed, Jews that don't convert killed or damed, in order for Christ to return. That is their agenda. As we see them purposely weaken the USA to insure that will happen, Israelis need to reject them at look at their real friends, even if many of us are critical of their policies. I realize this sounds nuts and it is. However, it is in their literature and youtube sites.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  8. Colin

    I have said this before, and I am going to repeat it. The solution to all this nonsense is to make school prayer compulsory.

    We set up a very simple physics or chemistry experiment. Say, a strip of blue litmus paper with a test tube of an acidic solution poised above it. We have all the students in class pray to god that it will not turn red when the test tube is upended and the acid pours on it. We then upturn the test tube and see what happens.

    It will, of course, turn red.

    The students are invited to bring along their priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, and other religious authority figures to lead their prayers. They can all pray, chant, implore and bob to their various sky-deities that the litmus paper does not turn red.

    We do this experiment every day, sometimes substi.tuting red litmus paper for blue litmus paper and an alkali solution for the acid solution – with the appropriate change in the prayer. We can even use different experiments for the different gods (lest the prayers somehow “cancel each other out”). We can also do other simple experiments – two identical poles of a magnet always being repulsive, with the students praying that they will attract.

    We do these experiments every day of every year for their entire high school experience. The students pray every day, and we even have special “open” days where they are even invited to bring along the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury, Glenn Beck, if you wish, the Dalia Lama, head of the Orthodox Church, the USA’s and Isreal's most sacred rabbi etc., etc. to join their prayers.

    As we know, their prayers to their gods will fail every day of every week of every year. Every single time, without doubt and 100% guaranteed. We could also ask them to pray every day for 12 years that a certain Gulf War veteren who lost their legs gets them back or that a blind man can see again. Same result.

    This will help the students understand:

    (i) that there is no god listening and that praying is a futile exercise when the results can REALLY be tested;

    (ii) the complete superiority of the scientific method over religious superst.itions, as science accurately predicts the results of each experiment every time;

    (iii) the silliness of still believing in Bronze Age sky-gods in the 21st Century, be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim or other;

    (iii) the frailties of their religious leaders as they scurry for excuses –“god won’t be tested”, “god moves in mysterious ways” etc; and

    (iv) the weakness of human nature as the religious right moves to shut the experiment down.

    The religious nuts are actually right on this one. Children would learn a lot from praying in school.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Ed

      Ha! Now that's some school prayer I could support!

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

      I hear you brother, but your side stepping something crucial to our survival: faith. Right or wrong, it's what's keeping us on the straight and narrow and also gives you the privilege to say what you want to say. I know – you don't agree. Keep hope alive anyways, brother.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Brad

      Colin,

      You are every bit as religious as Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It is just that your religion/belief system is based on the unproven and unsupported idea that there is no God. Stop your hypocrisy and stop trying to preach and convert the rest of us to your crazy atheist ideas!

      August 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Not So Fast

      Brad, do you have faith in gravity? I'm sorry but you are completely off base with this one. Science has absolutely nothing to do with faith. Science will only support something as long as ample, reproducible evidence is available. Faith is only possible with a absence of evidence. These are non overlapping concepts and Christian apologist wrongly employ this Science/Faith argument all the time. If you rationally dissect the evidence, actually read the Bible, and look at Christianity in the same light you look at other religions, you will find the evidence staggeringly falsifies the concept of Yahweh. Please, start doing some unbiased research into your comfortable little religion and see what you dig up. I will say though, it does take a bit of courage, initiative, and an open mind. For the sake of mankind, I hope you do this sooner than later.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  9. john dick

    he is insane, stupid and Muslim haters

    August 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  10. sapsxy

    ....this cartoon still alive.....? ...lol..

    August 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • john dick

      ya right , cause we let it

      August 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  11. vlahos

    markets closed mixed on the Chicago mercantile exchange, futures up sharply due to modest increase in gas prices ahead of a economic trade rally, hog futures sharply lower due to bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich market, this remains dominant market activity....bla bla bla bla

    August 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  12. Corey

    Keep on stirring the pot, Glenn...

    August 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  13. Unknown

    Glenn Becks ignorance is astounding. First he compares the people killed in Norway to Nazis, being insensitive to fact Norway was occupied by the Nazis. Then he compares Reformed Jews to Islamic extremists in Israel, unaware of the fact the Israelis have to put up with that violence daily. I am saying also as a person who supports Palestinian rights for self-determination.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Unknown

      *Glenn Beck's

      August 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  14. K3Citizen

    Inviting Beck to Israel is like inviting David Duke to Kenya.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • bob

      That is great!

      August 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Jose

      fantastic analogy

      August 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  15. Marc

    This is confusing. Exactly what does the book of Mormom teach, that he feels this is "Kingdom work"? I am so very, very confused about this story. I don't want to judge his intentions, but I feel a serious mistrust toward this man. God forgive me for that.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • jay

      Don't worry – I don't think god trusts him either.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • ckwagonxx

      Firsts instincts are usually correct, hang in there. Beck's past would indicate your concerns are justified. He is not a really balanced individual. Fox got rid of him because he's too controversial, even for them.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Scripture Reader

      How about you read The Book Of Mormon and you would understand. As a another testament of Jesus Christ with the old and new testament the scriptures as a whole make more sense. You would have a greater understanding of the Old Testament, of the house of Israel by reading The Book of Mormon along with The Bible.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jose

      Ahhh, I don't think Joseph Smith trusts this clown either.

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

      Thanks Jose and Jay. I couldn't agree with you more. I'm pretty sure God's shaking his head in embarrassment. Let me make it pretty clear. If you are Mormon, you better not be trying to convert anyone in Israel. The Mormon church has a great relationship with Israel and has a university center (a GREAT center) in Jerusalem because of this agreement. I seriously hope that Beck doesn't screw this up with his psycho behaviour.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  16. r2r2us

    He's just going there to defend them against those horrible Norwegian Hitler Youth that managed to survive the domestic right-winged terrorist attack. Why's it such a big deal?

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

    "Mixed feelings"? Anyone that gives this nut-case a shred of credibility, should have their head examined. I'm a supporter of Jerusalem. Or now, maybe not. Careful who you get in bed with, you might get something you don't want...

    August 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  18. Julian

    Every dumb person I know is a liberal; you cannot have an intelligent discussion with these people. Doubt that, read the reply to my comment.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Really? The people I hang with have a university degrees and are either liberal or moderate. We tend to have educated children, travel a great deal, and take a worldly view on issues. Others that I have to interact with fly confederate flags and throw their empty cans of Coors Light and cigarette butts out the window and shoot at street signs. Guess which group listens to Glenn Beck?

      August 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • ckwagonxx

      Juilan, I think you listen to Glen Beck and Rush too much. You need to read more to form your own opinions-stop listening to these idiots. They are entertainers who take themselves too seriously.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • DekaLV

      Julian, are you posting your comment on the correct message board? What does your comment have to do with the subject matter of the article? Do you show up to random city council meetings to complain about MTV's lack of music videos? Come on man, find your context!

      August 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Jose

      Nice trap, Julian. Now pull of your shorts and go to bed before your 95 year old mother turns off the basement lights again.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • buckup

      If I use your necesary qualification of being dumb, that would make you a liberal. Based of your ignorant comment I cannot believe you have any connection to liberal or liberty. You are stupid by one definition of the word dumb, and a disproof of your inconsistent hypothesis. If you get lost on my words try a dictionary.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  19. Amom

    Last year he called people to pray and this year he is holding a rally to show support for Israel. And you people have a problem w/ that?

    August 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Colin

      Yes – because we don't believe in Bronze Age Middle Eastern sky-gods.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • jay

      Sure do.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  20. harry

    I would vote for ANYBODY..including Beck.. just to get rid of the idiots we have in office now. Obama needs to go. The democrats, the republicans...ALL of them need to go. Time to start over.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • KRS1

      You are stupid then.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • jay

      Be careful what you wish for.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • ELEANO

      Hey Faux Tea Slurp Boy, or southern bagger there is not reply for….. you don’t’ deserve and is not worth just try to dodge the spit.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • buckup

      @hairbrained, by your own admission you would vote for stalin or hitler.
      Were you born a stupid fascist or did you grow into it?
      Give up your US citizenship and move to Iran, you can vote for them.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Virologist

      That sort of thinking is part of the reason we have some of the idiots in office that we have. We have terrible leaders, so we assume no one can be worse. So we elect someone different just to change it up, but time and time again we are proven that it can always get worse.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:38 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.