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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. lolsigh

    Glenn Beck is one of many examples of how dumb and ignorant christians are.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Beverlee

      Lolsigh...you call me dumb, I turn my cheek, you call me ignorant, I turn my other cheek. I call you prejudice and a bigot...what next?

      August 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • jnab

      Beverlee, turning your cheek doesn't make you less ignorant, educating yourself does.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  2. Tyrion

    Why would any Jewish person want to listen to a Mormon nutjob like Beck. The man is pretending to be an ally of Jews when in fact he wants to convert the Jews. It baffles me Israelis would fall for the Christian Zionisism nonsense especially when Evangelicals talk about rapture and Jesus will punish non-Christians.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • satanbug

      Agian, why would anyone lsiten to this j a c k of f beck? He's consistenly made a fool of himslef...who even acknowledges this guy? Even Republicans run from this guy and they elected Bush twice

      August 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  3. Big Johnny Super Republican

    Beck? Who is this Beck? Oh... THAT Beck. The CRAZY one. He's not coming back to the US is he? Let's hope not.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  4. Jimbo M.

    Yet another glaring example of the divisiveness of religion – any organized religion.
    The sooner they are all eliminated, the sooner the world can begin to heal itself.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  5. Daws

    “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.”

    Does it count as an agenda if they think it'll fulfill some prophecy that will bring about the apocalypse that then will get jews converted? ...along with the whole world of course... or else hell and damnation, but that goes without saying don't it?

    August 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Joe

    WHO......is Glenn Beck???
    He has only as much power as the attention you give him....
    In my world, there is no Glenn Beck......

    August 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • satanbug

      i think i heard that in The Matrix...I can only show you the path Neo

      August 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  7. Caron

    The Jews would do well to stay away from this guy; and fear him.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • satanbug

      hey man i think everyone would do well to stay away from Glenn Beck

      August 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  8. If Glenn Beck was dying in the street I will ask him if he has insurance first

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXATqoSeGjU&w=640&h=390]

    August 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • If Glenn Beck was dying in the street I will ask him if he has insurance first

      What fire department was this anyway? They need a wake up call

      If I see a fireman burning, I probably walk away and let him burn. Thank Glenn Beck for training me on humanity

      August 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  9. samuel

    mr beck is so delusional just study the book of mormon and see if it ties in with mainstream christianity... it does not. He is not a christian. the teachings of joseph smith are at odds with those of christ. shut up beck and gime a cry..

    August 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Mike

      Jesus was out of step with mainstream Jewish religious teachings and tradition, too.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Duh

      There were no jews in the time of jc, only Hebrews

      August 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  10. halo

    They're all a pain in the ass, the tea party and """friends""".

    August 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  11. tnmtl

    Again... another story that looks like news but isn't. THIS ISNT NEWS. THIS IS A STUPID BLOG . CNN SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR LUMPING LINKS TO THIS TOGETHER WITH REAL NEWS HEADLINES!!

    August 23, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  12. bendayho

    What are the Jews torn about? Whether or not to shoot his plane out of the sky? Glen Beck is part of reason so many young people don't want anything to do with organized religion. Sad.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  13. Poooot

    C'mon, Beck is just a garden variety megalomaniacal demagogue with a messiah complex. Is he running for president? CNN will cover the heck out if him anyway. That's right, it starts with an earthquake....

    August 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  14. abd

    Cheap people like this Jerk are rady to sell their religion for few dollars, either you stand next to your values and beliefs or you will be a lier. What does christianity say about the Jews? Can a true christian tell me? no one will dare to say the truth. and you are talking about FREEDOMM OF SPEECH, but the jew made you speechless, I admire that in them.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  15. Are the jews gone yet?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAcIzPmOhBQ&w=640&h=390]

    August 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  16. dr. perry fisher

    Glen Beck is a good person

    August 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Norman

      yeah-so are his anti-gay friends he brought with him-you know, teh ones who equate gays to animals and sinners who dont deserve life let alone equality..good guy

      August 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • desi

      and I am Jesus

      August 23, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • jnab

      He's a dick.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  17. satanbug

    I like seeing all my rightwing friends who used to watch Beck on TV and swoon to his every word twist a little in the wind everytime he pulls some new self humiliating stunt...didn't he hold a rally on the same day as MLK in the same place..how could you take him seriously after that...it was so patently silly..I have nothing to compare to that except maybe George W Bush coming on TV to make a fool of himself over some topic

    August 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  18. Jews are not the chosen and they are not the same religion of Moses

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZn8rq9_xD0&w=640&h=390]

    August 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Jews are not the chosen and they are not the same religion of Moses

      Jews are Pharisees, oral Torah believers, life after death believers, messiah believers. None of this is in Torah. They are liars and cheats and need to give Israel back to the real Hebrews, the chosen.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  19. satanbug

    I like seeing all my rightwing friends who used to watch Beck on TV and swoon to his every word twist a little in the wind everytime he pulls some new self humiliating stunt...didn't he hold a rally on the same day as MLK in the same place..how could you take him seriously after that...it was so patently rediculous..I have nothing to compare to that except maybe George W Bush coming on TV to make a fool of himself over some topic

    August 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  20. Caron

    Only in America can a guy like Glenn Beck have an audience. Its revolting and, at first, it makes me feel nauseous. Then I just laugh my ass off that he is even featured in the news media. Whose the dummie?

    August 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • wes

      Only in America, huh? Did you read the article? It's about a rally in Israel. Last time I checked that wasn't state in the U.S.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
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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.