Wednesday, August 24, 2011

With Glenn Beck By The Temple’s Walls

By Barry Rubin

Glenn Beck’s program in Israel went off without a hitch, ending in a rally on the southern side of the Old City of Jerusalem. About 1000 people were in attendance, mostly Americans who’d come to Jerusalem at Beck’s urging but with a sprinkling of Israelis, including a fair proportion of Orthodox. 

With the Old City wall’s to his right and in front of him, and the al-Aqsa mosque looming quite close on his right, Beck handled himself with a mixture of audaciousness toward his enemies and sensitivity toward his friends. He announced a global movement, to be headquartered in Texas, to encourage average people to act against injustice though the details of its scope and goals weren't clear.

While many fulminated against Beck and his Israel project it was hard to find something he specifically said or did that should provoke such feelings. For example, a presentation on the history of Jerusalem was careful to cite Jewish, Christian, and Muslim connections with the city in a very balanced manner, as the call for prayer wafted from a nearby minaret.

Beck’s mission was to raise support for Israel and the 1500 viewing parties around the world—including such places as China and Pakistan—guaranteed that many heard the message. He is seeking to reverse the trend in which “sophisticated folk,” my phrase, sympathize with terrorist groups and revolutionary Islamist organizations rather than a democratic state defending itself.

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