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. a person of the Name

    Hmm, seams to be a lot of attacks on religion on here. I was raised athiest and was raised to have a open mind. I have read and researched many things. I found the world void of morals and most who claim to have answers ,don't. I started my walk with God out of curiosity and found more then what I was looking for. As for someone to tell me what to believe, I sought God in the bible and since the Word is God I found him. I now feel him by me at all times. He is so good to me and my family.
    As for Beck most can see him for what he is and the ones that don't are too few to matter.
    May God bless each one of you, and may God bless this country. So that we may be able to keep all the freedoms we enjoy.

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

      person of the name.. religion has no special privilege to claim things that cannot be proven, and then demand that we abide by them. While religion and the gods they support continue to jockey for supremacy then peace will out of reach , as it is at this time. While we continue to see people as nothing more than values based on their god, then the true measure of a human is lost. If as you claim you were "raised" with an open mind ..then why has god favoring you while tens of thousands of Africans are currently starving to death...

      August 24, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  2. cbr

    Mr. Beck can go anywhere he pleases but that does not mean I would watch him, read about him, or support his trip. You do not make wild accusations and statements and then expect those effectied to listen to you, read about you and or support his trip to Jerusalem.

    August 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • AK

      GLEN BECK is a MORMON MORON! How about that??

      August 24, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • merrybee

      Beck and the Christian Zionists have such a hidden agenda and what they aim for is a global theocracy.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  3. Peter J

    Support for Jews and support for Israel are two different things. I definitely support Jews around the world (most of them live outside Israel) and their right to their beliefs and religion. Supporting Israel (which is a nation of people from many religions) is a different thing. I support Israel as long as it's a democratic country where all citizens are treated equally and they respect other countries and religions.

    August 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  4. jingo

    Mentally ill.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes, that's my concern about all the Beck and Jew haters, too!

      August 24, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  5. Josh

    This is just CNN's way of promoting the event and Beck's conservative agenda ....(no such thing as bad publicity)

    August 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  6. jonny

    Beck is an opportunistic Doosh-bag with no legitimate idea or point to make. It's all folly.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  7. John


    August 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Sounds like a kids playing the piano

      Communism will take over America and you can blame it on Glenn Beck!

      August 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  8. Zapparules

    I have listened to Beck for sometime (now mostly just for the humor of it all) but early on I realized that he really says and offers nothing at all. If he really wanted to change the issues he rails against he would not use the approach that he does. He is not uniting people. He divides people. He is not for love and forgiveness. He is for being as divisive as possible – all so he can make a big buck.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Mike

      While I think Beck is a jerk at times you either don't listen to him or simply don't understand.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  9. Ron Paul, the baby booms don't love AMerica, never have, so your idea of remembering falls on deaf ears


    August 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  10. Ron

    Beck doesn't really love jews he is just another crazy German. If he was alive in WWII he would be a stormtrooper since he is already paranoid about communists, just like Hitler was.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  11. Mike

    I used to think Jews were just overly sensitive and whined too much.

    Then I started reading comments at CNN.com and realized how many hateful people there really are..........the same that vindictively criticize Beck no matter what he does. Just scared little people that need the nanny state to care for them.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Cody

      Yeah it's really crazy isn't it? Never seen such passive hatred.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Mike

      My concern is how long will it remain passive?

      August 23, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Martin T

      Beck is a sicko, simply, plain, and without doubt, a sicko.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Cody

      I really wish I knew, Mike. I'm guessing as long as people continue to not pay attention and just pretend like they know what they're talking about. It's straight up ignorance. Take Martin here for example. Do you think he's ever listened to what Glenn Beck has to say? Or do you think he has some sort of outside influence preventing him from writing anything that makes the slightest shred of real world sense? Not saying I like Glenn Beck but come on. Same with all the anti Jew comments. What do these people think they know? Apparently everything.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  12. Jay Rose

    This is one Jew who is proud to have Beck stand up for Israel in a time when a lot of people don't have the courage to do so. Call me ignorant or whatever you want but I do my homework. I'm well versed in what he has to say.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Bob Johnsen

      Jay, you are ignorant.

      Glenn Beck is just a panderer to your ignorance.
      Dont get in his car Jay, he doesnt really have bag of candy. He is just another lunatic trying to form a mob of lemmings to follow him over a cliff.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Jay Rose

      The irony of your comment is it exposes your own ignorance. You'll never know because you'll never pay attention. You'll go on thinking the way you do without ever dreaming that perhaps your mind is insanely closed. But yeah, I'm ignorant. You got the facts to prove it I'll bet.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  13. Reality

    There are always economics built into one's beliefs. For example, is Susan Jacoby an atheist because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject? Unless she and others in the business of making good income from books, etc. on religion, secularism, or atheism take a vow of poverty, we will never know.

    BTW, Glen Beck "earned" $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

    and from guidestar.org

    Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.
    Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr
    Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr
    Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr
    Erica Brown $134,221/yr
    Eboo Patel $120,000/yr.
    Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?
    Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

    August 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Donivan

      Yeah because GB sold books, had a TV show and made appearances. But your congressman are making some major moola as well. Look it up since you like researching.

      But it baffles me why most Americans want to tax 5% of the population, to get to the top 2%. Meanwhile the other top 3% are business owners (small to mid-size) that rae downsizing and closing. Yet ppl want to raise taxes on them, I guess ppl don't want jobs.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Sean

      I guess you work for the IRS? Look how much the nut-job and partner in crime Rush makes! They're 2 pees in a pod.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  14. David Hartman

    Interesting baby!


    August 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  15. frankly speaking

    I grow up in a place where evangelicals abound. And come in different varieties of fascists. They'll talk a lot about "democracy" and "Israel" but what they want is total control of the world. One guy I know said we should help Jews blow up Arabs while trying to make them (Jews) Christian because they are going to hell. That and one evangelical thought Hitler was "Misunderstood". So sure embrace the Evangelical right. Just remember to check your back for knives every few hours.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • There in no hell in Torah

      There in no heaven form mankind in Torah

      August 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Sean

      Israelis and Jews fully understand what makes evangelicals tick! They don't have to look that deep into their
      own family histories to remember the compassion Christians in Europe showed them for a millennium.

      August 24, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  16. The rich rule the poor


    August 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • buckup

      Look! it is Vladamir Lenin, the ultimate word on fascism.
      Lenin, who figure out how to rule the rich and the poor.

      Rupert Murdoch called Lenin "the great teacher."
      Glen Beck, employed by Rupert Murdoch.

      Glen Beck, Rupert Murdoch, Vladamir Lenin, & fascist propaganda: could there be a connection?

      August 24, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  17. Marian

    Beck it's alcoholick ego Jork !!!

    August 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  18. vince

    it's amazing to see people of the Jewish faith supporting the so called evangelical Christians, the same churches that though they support Israel, also would like nothing better than for the Jews to convert to their particular brand of Christianity, some of which even made that a stated goal. So many people love to play "Christian" yet few actually follow Jesus' message of universal love and acceptance, renouncing judgment and living a life of humility and simplicity.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Bob Johnsen

      Glenn Beck is a Mormon. They believe in converting their ancestors, so, if Beck can just get a few to convert, the jews, including those who dies in the holocaust, will largely be claimed as mormons.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Sean

      Jews fully understand what the MO is for right-wing Christian support of Israel. After 2000 years, they've given up on expecting any mass conversions. Especially, since for over 1500 years they forced it on them. It's because in the 'end times' in the book of revelations, all of Israel must be Jewish and they all have to die, then Jesus returns and saves them all that accept him as their savior!

      August 24, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  19. Beverlee

    You can always count on CNN to bring out all the haters of the world.

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

      Glenn Beck is a joke ! Someone you spews so much hate and information < all to benefit his wallet book! Fox news , lol "news" hahaha

      August 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  20. stewturner

    another event that is only about Glenn Beck and nothing else

    August 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
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.