Media personality Glenn Beck organized a rally this past Wednesday near Temple Mount, in one of Jerusalem's most volatile areas. The event was heavily secured by Israeli soldiers and police, and passed without any problems.
Less than one thousand guests participated, which left quite a few empty seats. Republican Congress members were banned from making the trip to Israel, which left GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain as the only American politician to take part. He was joined by several right wing Israeli Knesset members, and by actor John Voight.
Tabbed "Restoring Courage," the rally was broadcasted live to the rest of the world on Beck's online TV channel. However, Beck's camera crews didn't catch all the action. Outside the Old City walls, less than fifty meters from where the event took place, Israelis and Americans gathered to protest against Beck, who they say is an extremist that provokes dispute between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East.
Below is a video report I produced, which covers the rally and the protest.
There have been mixed responses to Beck's strong show of support for Israel. Alan Dershowitz wrote that though he disagree with most of Beck's politics, he admires the courage the ex-Fox talk show host displays standing by the Jewish state.
At a time when old friends and allies who should be supporting the Jewish state are abandoning it in droves, Beck's willingness to stand up for Israel must be accepted with gratitude. I, for one, do not question his motives. I believe they are genuine. One need not accept all of Beck's positions on Israel -- and I certainly do not -- in order to agree with him that support of Israel is one of the great moral issues of the 21st Century.
On the other hand, Rachel Tabachink, an independent researcher specializing in Christian Zionism in the United States, argues that Beck is strongly connected to extreme Evangelists -- like pastor John Hagee -- whose intentions are fulfilling end-times prophecy.
During his 50 minute speech at the rally, Beck avoided saying anything provocative, but did express time and again his love and support for Israel. The crowd at the event, which consisted mostly of white middle-aged Americans, cheered enthusiastically at the end of every sentence, and seemed at times like they were listening to words of god, or at least a prophet.