Glenn Beck's Visit, a Distraction for Israel and the World

Glenn Beck brought 2,000 people including protestors and plenty of press, to Jerusalem on Wednesday night, as the culmination of his Restoring Courage tour of Israel to an end. Gathered at the Davidson Center a few steps away from the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Glenn Beck's final showing had a huge crowd buzzing with excitement.

But not everyone.

Arab members of Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, warned that Beck's rally at the southern wall excavations site could spark violence in Jerusalem. MK Ahmed Tibi called Beck a "bizarre, neo-fascist comedian" and accused those involved in Beck's event of "dancing to Beck's flute-playing and rejoicing to every outrageous word against Arabs and Muslims."

Beck himself has been described as anti-Semitic, a fundamentalist Christian extremist, and most often a lunatic by many in the media and religious leaders across the spectrum.
During the rally, however, Beck did not utter one word against Arabs or Muslims.


Instead, the former Fox News personality called upon unity among all faiths. Beck read a letter from a Muslim sheikh from Hebron, Sheikh Khader al-Jabari, congratulating Beck for organizing a rally consisting of Jews and Christians. "Israeli and Moslem are both children of Abraham and we are all children of one God," Sheikh Jabari wrote to Beck. "May we truly walk arm in arm in peace together and bring our united God, the God of the universe, to the entire world in peace."

Indeed, one major theme that repeated itself throughout the rally was Jerusalem as a city for people of all faiths. Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat stated that "we will not derail from our destiny, from respecting other religions," and "that there is room in Jerusalem for everyone, Christians, Muslims and Jews alike."

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the founding chief rabbi of the Efrat community outside of Jerusalem, who opened the event, stated that "we must work towards a Jerusalem of peace for all religions."

The event also featured "Restoring Courage" awards that were given to Israelis chosen for performing acts that strengthened co-existence between Arabs and Jews. Israeli supermarket magnate, Rami Levy was awarded for building supermarkets that have become meeting points for Jewish-Arab shopping co-existence in the West Bank. Another award was given to the Jewish and Arab owners of the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, which was blown up by a female Palestinian suicide bomber in 2003 and today serves as symbol of peace in the city.


The main objects of criticism during Beck's rally were Europe and UN diplomats, whom Beck described as bureaucrats with cold hearts.

While Beck's visit elicited a range of responses, from politicians, news commentators and social activists, there were those who were rather blasé about his visit.

Speaking to an Israeli security guard, Iyov, outside the event, I asked him what he thought of Glenn Beck. "Who is Glenn Beck?" was his response.

I proceeded to explain, and Iyov interrupted saying, "I thought this event was for Angelina Jolie's father." "Oh, you mean Jon Voight?" "Yes!"

To the Israeli not so interested in politics, the one person that perhaps garnered the most attention from Glenn Beck's Restoring Courage rally was Jon Voight, who was a featured speaker at several of Beck's events. And that is simply because the American actor is the father of Angelina Jolie.
For many Israelis, Glenn Beck's visit did not ruffle a feather. And that's because they don't know who the man is.

And for others who have heard his name but do not view him as a dangerous man, a crazy prophet, or the only true friend of Israel, Beck is just another visitor to the Holy Land.

As one Israeli journalist at the event told me, "he wasn't my cup of tea, but I listened anyways."

At the end of the event, those who came staunchly supporting Beck left elated. Those who protested outside left hating Beck even more. And those who were confused of his real intentions for the rally were not any more enlightened after the event was over.

His mention of God's plan for humanity, using terms like responsibility and rights, bewildered many, as he did not elaborate what that plan would entail.

In general, Beck's visit proved to be a distraction for everyone, a distraction from serious issues that are currently plaguing Israel, including the continuing rocket warfare against one million civilians in Israel's south.