By: Fern Sidman
On Sunday, August 21st, former FOX News talk show host and Conservative commentator Glenn Beck delivered an address laden with palpable emotion at the Roman ampitheater in Caesarea, Israel as part of the first fixture leading up to his “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem on August 24th. Speaking to over 3,000 mostly American attendees, Beck exhorted his audience at the monumental venue built in the first century by Herod the Great to “not only love Israel but love the Jewish people as they are.”
Declaring that the entire world is “reentering the age of miracles of God,” he received thunderous applause when he said, “While there may not be a political solution, the good news is the God of Israel ain’t running for office.” While not directly addressing the geo-political realities that Israel faces or his staunch opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Beck said, “Let the Jewish people know, no matter what our governments may say, we are not our governments, we stand with you. We bring truth, we bring peace, we bring support, we bring comfort.”
Simultaneously broadcast to over 80 countries throughout the world and close to 1,200 viewing parties, Beck’s remarks focused on the religious teachings that inspired him in his heartfelt love for Israel, namely the Books of Esther and Ruth. “When Ruth told her mother-in-law Naomi,’wherever you goest I shall go, your people shall be my people and your G-d shall be my G-d,’ those words were a driving force for me.”
Joining Beck on stage were Pastor John Hagee, an American evangelical icon and founder and president of the Christians United For Israel (CUFI), American born Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, David Barton, a world renowned historian and Dr. Mike Evans, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author who has sold over 23 million books. Providing musical entertainment for the evening was Grammy nominated R&B/soul/gospel singer Vernessa Mitchell, who was joined by a vibrant cadre of Israeli singers and musicians.
“The Jews are still the apple of God’s eye, still the chosen people, still the covenant people,” declared Pastor Hagee as he received a standing ovation as he took the podium. In a powerful statement on the ubiquitous campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel and its growing isolation in the international community he drew an analogy with the late president John F. Kennedy and his historical “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, when he announced “Ani Yisraeli” (I am an Israeli). He then led the rally participants in chants of: “I am an Israeli!”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, formerly of the Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s upper west side, spoke of Jewish appreciation for the support of the Christian pro-Israel community, and in particular that of Glenn Beck, who, Riskin said, is a “deeply patriotic American, a true friend of Israel.” Lauding the stoic character of the Christian supporters of Israel, Rabbi Riskin said, “We are not alone. We are Jews and not Christians. You Christians, nevertheless, have the courage to love us in our otherness. We are profoundly grateful for your courage to love us and stand with us.”
Sharing a very personal story of faith and clarity on what the courage to love truly means, Dr. Mike Evans recounted a traumatic childhood of anti-Semitic taunts and his ever increasing understanding of what the survival of Israel represents to Western civilization. Imparting historical insights into the words of the Bible, Dr. David Barton shed light on their relevance and gravitas in contemporary society.
Prior to the rally in Caesarea, Beck had toured the Shomron region of Israel, providing support to the settler communities and paid a special visit to the settlement of Itamar, the site of the barbaric murder of five members of the Fogel family by Arab terrorists in March of this year.
Said Beck on his radio program broadcast from Israel, “I went to Itamar in Judea and Samaria; our cameras were the first to be allowed into the home. It is empty now and they are ?? they couldn’t get all of the blood off the walls. I will tell you, this was one of the most horrific, bloodiest massacres I could imagine. It was horrifying, horrifying. And yet in that community, profound hope. If you stand in their backyard, you can see the two mountains: The Mountain of Blessing and the Mountain of Curse. It is scriptural. Which do you choose? The mountain of blessing or curse. And this community has both. I can’t believe what people go through here in Israel, and the world stays silent. The media is distorting and lying, lying to you. Lying to you. And it is important that you know it.”
Meanwhile, Arab Knesset members have warned of possible violence on Wednesday as Beck holds his “Restoring Courage” rally at the Southern Wall excavation sites near the Temple Mount and an event expected to garner an audience of over 2,000 at the Davidson Center in Jerusalem. According to reports in The Jerusalem Post, Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei said, “There are enough racists in Israel without importing them from the US. The lessons from Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount apparently haven’t been learned. This event isn’t for building coexistence, but to spark fires in a sensitive location ahead of the United Nations vote on a Palestinian state in September. There is a danger that the event will lead to people being harmed, and the police should have prevented it.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) called Beck “a bizarre, conservative, neo-fascist comedian who is motivated by a hatred of Islam.” He also accused MK Danny Danon (Likud), who is involved in Beck’s event, of “dancing to Beck’s flute-playing and rejoicing to every outrageous word against Arabs and Muslims.”
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Beck advised his critics to watch the event before casting judgment. He said that when he held his Restoring Honor event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, last August, people said he would desecrate the site with what they thought would be a right-wing political rally, but it ended up being nothing of the kind. “Israeli control over Jerusalem is the best thing that has happened in many people’s lives among Arabs I’ve met, even though they won’t say it on camera,” Beck said. “They are protected, safe and able to live without violence. Israel has done an amazing job of adhering to love thy neighbor – and even love thine enemy. It’s hard when people are trying to kill you to protect their rights. Jerusalem is an example of coexistence working. You can’t deny truth,” he added.