By RYAN JONES — ISRAEL TODAY —
When popular and controversial American commentator Glenn Beck held his highly-publicized rally in Israel it was relentlessly covered and criticized by the mainstream media. However, the purpose of Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally was not to win accolades abroad, but rather to encourage average Israelis to stand up to a dangerous international agenda regarding their ancient and biblical homeland. So, how did Israelis receive it?
It used to be that the vast majority of Israelis from across the political spectrum received with open arms the support of Israel-loving Christians (while Beck is a professed Mormon, to most Israeli Jews a Christian is a Christian, regardless of which denomination, sect or offshoot he or she belongs to). But over the past decade, left-leaning Israeli liberals – those who reject the biblical mandate of their nation – have come to see Christian Zionists as more dangerous than the Muslim fanatics threatening Israel with physical destruction.
With much of Israel’s press controlled by the liberal sector of society, it is little wonder that Beck’s reception in local newspapers and evening television newscasts was cool, if not icy.
While only a few thousand attended Beck’s Restoring Courage rally on the southern steps of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, it was viewed online and through traditional media by millions, and perhaps hundreds of millions around the world. In short, it was an important event hosted by a recognizable superstar, as much as many may dislike him. So it was quite telling that Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, sufficed to cover the rally with nothing more than a small photograph and caption.
Other newspapers were not so kind.
Globes, Israel’s leading business newspaper, took its cue from American liberals as it labeled Beck a “Christian who preaches hate and extreme racism,” and blasted him for blaming “fundamentalist Islam for almost all the woes of the world.”
A leading columnist for Ma’ariv warned fellow Israelis not to side with Beck as doing so would put them on what the columnist insisted was the “wrong side of American politics.”
Israel’s extreme-left newspaper Ha’aretz would have just ignored Beck completely, if it wasn’t so much fun for the editors to ridicule and mock a man they viewed as their intellectual inferior. The Ha’aretz reporters sent to “live blog” Beck’s rally were condescending at every turn.
When Beck presented an award to the courageous surviving children of the Fogel family, whose parents and siblings were massacred by Palestinian terrorists, the Ha’aretz writers quipped, “This would be funny if it weren’t so terrible.”
The evening of the rally Israel’s Channel 2 News broadcast a three-minute clip of the event and interviewed Beck, but only after identifying him as a “radical right-winger” who had been fired by Fox News because his views were too extreme even for that right-wing establishment. With exaggerated dismissive facial gestures, the Channel 2 anchor clearly registered her negative view of Beck and his rally.
But some were determined to give Beck a fair shake.
The Jerusalem Post was more supportive in its coverage, including a great many quotes from Israeli lawmakers who saw Beck as a true friend of the Jewish state.
The free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom provided a factual account of Beck’s rally, accompanied by an editorial urging Israelis to heed Beck’s advice, regardless of their personal opinions of the man himself.
In the halls of power, as previously mentioned, Beck was largely received with open arms. Knesset members from all parties were warmed by Beck’s defiant support for Israel, even those who disagreed with his using the Bible to justify Israel’s existence. But there, too, Beck ran into the kind of knee-jerk opposition he has become all too accustomed to in America.
“Glenn Beck is a bizarre, neo-fascist comedian,” declared Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat who has made a career out of accusing Israel of being a fascist state, even as he occupies one of Israel’s highest offices.
Jerusalem City Councilwoman Mina Fenton claimed that Beck’s rally was a “Christian crusade” aimed at reclaiming Jerusalem for the Church.
All in all, it was clear that the reputation that America’s liberal mainstream media has forged for Beck preceded him, and many in Israel were not even willing to hear what he had to say before dismissing Beck as a fringe lunatic.
But this is Israel, and as many local commentators noted, this nation does not have the luxury of choosing its friends. So many did listen to Beck, and by and large those who did came away impressed with what the American had to say, and perhaps somewhat encouraged that they are not alone.