By: Fern Sidman
Addressing thousands at his much heralded “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening August 24th, FOX News talk show host Glenn Beck exhorted his audience to immerse themselves in doughtiness and “to stand up for Israel” in the face of the existential siege that the Jewish state finds herself under by the international community.
Speaking from the Southern Wall excavation site in Jerusalem’s old city, Beck, an intrepid supporter of Israel and the Jewish people, delivered an ominous portent of geo-political realities. “Today, the world needs courage more than ever. You don’t have to be a prophet to know that things are not going well in the world. The threats are mounting. Darkness is falling,” he intoned.
Speaking of the potentially lethal ramifications of the Arab Spring, he added, “When I saw Tunisia’s and Egypt’s rulers crack and fall and the world called it the Arab Spring, I said: Where could this be going? And behind these revolutions was a familiar force, a force that will place those nations under a new pharaoh. And that force, I said, would come up to the borders of Israel. And so it has. You see evil rear its head in our time. You see the signs again. The swastikas are on display in the street marches. This week they’re holding up signs in Cairo that say: We’re building the gas chambers. They dress their children in suicide belts. They are given the choice, and they choose death.”
Making an oblique reference to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting in September in which a vote will be taken on the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Beck lambasted the world body by saying, “In New York, the so-called leaders of the world talk about abuses of human rights. But what they will do is abuse the very meaning of the phrase “human rights.” Human rights they say. But who will they focus on? Libya? Syria? North Korea? No. They will condemn Israel. Tiny Israel. Democratic Israel. Free Israel. Israel, which values life above all other things.”
He furthered chided the world body by saying, “When the Fogel family was killed in their sleep the world barely took note. The grand councils of earth condemn Israel. Across the border, Syria slaughters its own citizens. The grand councils are silent.”
Focusing on the vehement acrimony that engulfs Israel by the international community, Beck declared to thunderous applause, “When the world turns its back on Israel and the Jewish people, the world turns its back on the source of all human rights.” Beck, a Mormon, peppered his address with religious references when illustrating Israel’s role in respecting the sanctity of human life since the dawn of time. “Without the Jewish people, humanity would not know that every individual life has dignity, that every life is sacred, that God names every star and knows every soul. That was God’s message to Abraham and Moses. It is the message of the Jewish people to the world, and by their very existence they teach it to us.”
He added, “Nowhere in the Torah or the Christian Scriptures do you see the phrase words “human rights.” But there is a lot in there about responsibilities. Everything we know about human rights and civilization came from this place. Whether you live by 613 commandments or 10 or just one golden rule, they all came from here. This throne of the Lord.”
Heaping accolades on the Jewish nation for their iron will to survive and thrive against incessant horrific adversity, Beck said, “In Israel, there is more courage in one square mile than in all of Europe. In Israel, there is more courage in one soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations. In Israel, you can find people who will stand against incredible odds… against the entire tide of global opinion, for what is right and good and true. Israel is not a perfect country. No country is perfect. But it tries… and it is courageous.”
Speaking of the litany of vociferous condemnations that have been leveled against him for his stalwart support of Israel, Beck said, “No one wants to be on the point, the person that sticks out. My first death threat came in 2002 after my first visit to Israel and my declaration of support of the Jewish people and state. My latest death threat was today. And so I say: LO IRA. (Hebrew for “I fear not”). Condemn me. Target me. I will stand with Israel. I will stand with the Jewish people. And if they want to round us up again, I will proudly raise my hand and say “Take me first.”
Beck’s rally has generated a rancorous polemical debate in Israel with all sides weighing in. Standing outside the Dung Gate near the site of the rally, several dozen members of “Peace Now,” an arm of Israel’s radical left faction, staged a vocal protest against Beck. Holding aloft signs saying, “Glenn Beck: Go Home” and “Peace Takes Courage” they called on the right-wing American broadcaster to leave Israel and take his message elsewhere.
Jerusalemite Danielle Blumenstyk, 25, said that she came to the protest because “we think Glenn Beck is a racist and an extremist. He claims to be a friend of Israel, but he is only causing more and more damage to Israel’s image in the world.” She said that Israel “is unfortunately so unpopular in the world right now that the second someone says they like us we’re quick to say he’s our friend. But Beck is not our friend, he’s a lunatic.”
Danny Danon, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and prominent member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was one of the first Israeli legislators to embrace Beck, having invited him to address the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs last month. Attending the rally along with other right-wing elected officials and leaders of the settler movement, Danon said, “We have too many enemies around the world, so even when true supporters of the State of Israel come to visit – there are those among us who don’t know how to honor and appreciate them. Despite criticism from left wing organizations, we must say that Glenn Beck represents dozens of millions of people who support him and his opinions. We are proud of this relationship and not embarrassed by it. Anyone who supports Israel in such a brave way must be supported.”
Former Jerusalem city councilwoman, Mina Fenton also went on the offensive in attacking the “Restoring Courage” rally. Known for her outspoken criticism of Evangelical Christian aid to Israel, Fenton asserts that Beck and others like him, harbor missionary motives. “The exclusivity for the source of holiness of the Temple Mount, the site of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, and was so for about 1,700 years before anyone even heard of the idea of Christianity,” Fenton said, adding that, “Holding a Christian event near the southern wall will help in strengthening the Christian ‘Returning to Zion’ project that any Christian organization that respects itself initiates. They actually say that this area belongs to them.”
Concluding his address with an appeal for action amongst his supporters, Beck said, “You were not born so someone else could rule over you. God did not create you, endow you with rights so you could remain silent while injustice and evil grow. You have a purpose and it is rooted in love, compassion and responsibility. There are many reasons to hear my words, leave here and do nothing. We all have been trained to believe that we are not strong enough, smart enough or powerful enough. Abraham was old, Moses was slow of speech, Ruth was a widow, David was a little boy, Joseph was in prison, and Lazarus was dead. What is your excuse?”