BY RABBI JOSHUA LEVINE GRATER
(from the Opinion section of JewishJournal.com)
Find the pro column here: Glenn Beck’s unwavering support for Israel
Glenn Beck is a fundamentalist-extremist. His upcoming rally, on Aug. 24, “Restoring Courage” in Jerusalem is nothing more than a media-driven, money-making, self-serving, end-of-times messianic-lunacy circus show, and that is the very last thing Jerusalem and Israel need at this moment. I wish that I could dismiss Beck’s rally as not worthy of comment, but with so many Americans — including, to my sheer amazement, some Jews — following Beck’s entertainment programs, coupled with his multimillion-dollar wealth, unfortunately Beck has to be taken seriously. Not as a thinker, but as a political phenomenon whose words influence others and thus have real consequences.
Jews have seen our share of false messiahs, including Shabbtai Tzvi and Meir Kahane, and we know how damaging their message can be. A former DJ and comic, Beck reinvented himself as a self-proclaimed prophet of God, which is the first sign that he is a fraud. (In the last year, though, Beck has lost one-third of his audience, which shows that false prophets aren’t always profitable.) But, when he decides to bring his circus to the streets of Jerusalem, then the Jewish community must call him out and expose his long track record of lies, fear-mongering and anti-Semitic rants.
Why is anyone in the Jewish community embracing him? Of the nine people on Beck’s list of “the most dangerous people in the world,” eight are Jews. This is a friend of the Jewish people? He has compared Reform Judaism to radical Islam, mistakenly calling both political, not faith, movements. This is a friend of the Jewish people? His mentor and guru, Mormon extremist W. Cleon Skousen, is a well-known racist and anti-Semite whose book, “The Five Thousand Year Leap,” is too extremist even for the conservatives. This is a friend to the Jewish people? And Beck himself was called out for his anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, who might not be everyone’s favorite Jew, but Beck claimed, falsely and slanderously, that Soros helped to kill Jews in the Holocaust. More than 400 rabbis, myself included, joined with many mainstream Jewish organizations to expose Beck’s venomous lies. Glenn Beck is no friend of the Jewish people. In fact, he is one of the most dangerous, albeit well-disguised, enemies of the Jewish people.
Now he is going to Jerusalem, a tender yet volatile city, which sits at the center of the conflict in the Middle East. Beck will “stand with Israel” by preaching that the two-state solution will be the death of Israel. Again, if he wasn’t so well financed, I would just laugh and ignore this nonsense. Beck is good at reading cue cards, but it is clear from watching his show that he has absolutely no knowledge of the history of the Middle East conflict, the realpolitik that is involved in negotiations or the serious reality that Israel is facing as it fights for its future and survival. And, because he lives in the fantasy world of false messianic fervor, he doesn’t care about what is really happening. Jerusalem is a tinderbox, and pulling stunts like this can only lead to an explosion.
The two-state solution, and President Barack Obama’s attempts to revitalize negotiations based on the same set of principles all presidents, prime ministers and negotiators in the Middle East have used for decades, is the only hope for Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state. But Beck doesn’t care about that because the messianic vision of the “end times” actually involves the destruction of Jerusalem, which paves the way for the Second Coming. This is why Beck and the whole Christians United for Israel movement is actually a false front of “support for Israel,” which, sadly, many Jews have bought into as true support. In the interfaith work that I do, though, Muslim, Jewish and, especially, Christian colleagues of mine all agree: Glenn Beck is bringing nothing positive with regard to the healing of our fractured world.
In fact, Beck’s rally is actually a dream come true for Hamas and Hezbollah. They are, unwittingly perhaps, Beck’s radical, religious fundamentalist partners in crime who also crave the war to end the world. Lovers of Israel, friends of the Jewish people and seekers of peace should do some praying of our own: Pray that Israel doesn’t grant Beck a permit for his circus show. This could be one of the smartest things the Netanyahu government ever does.
Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater is the spiritual leader of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center. He currently also serves as chair of AFPI, Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative.