Restoring Courage

Glenn Beck is in Israel. For many, that may not warrant a headline, but Beck is an American journalist who is known for not mincing words, and for telling it like he sees it. He has no tolerance for “political correctness” or the complete ignorance it shows among its practitioners, not to mention the downright evil it can lead to. And Beck is vocally – stridently – pro-Israel.
His pro-Israel positions are not typically characterized by an overt political agenda. Rather, he voices support for the Israeli people – people who are living the national mission that underpins the Jewish return to respectability after close to two millennia of exile. Even the title of his trip to Israel – Restoring Courage – indicates his intense and abiding identification with the destiny of the people of Israel.
On August 24, Beck hosted a large rally at the southern end of the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, “to honor Israelis who have displayed courage in their struggle for survival and peace.” And to Glenn Beck, G-d bless him, that means all Israelis. For Glenn Beck understands that Israel’s survival is dependent upon peace, and that peace – in the true sense of the term – is dependent upon Israel’s survival.
For Glenn Beck, and for many Christian Zionists throughout North America and the rest of the world, every Jew living in Israel is a symbol of the indefatigable hope for peace and for historical justice. Every Jew living in Israel is a powerful statement that neither tyranny nor anti-Semitism nor terrorism (all of which actually go together in one monstrous combination) can win. Every Jew living in Israel is a statement – a beacon that freedom and justice are not mere dreams, but are goals that are being met every day.
In fact, Glenn Beck is using his visit to Israel to make a statement of his own aimed at people around the world as well, launching a Movement for Human Responsibility, and unveiling a Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities during his trip. He understands that the mutual relationship of rights and responsibilities that underpins any moral society has its roots in the Jewish return to the Land of Israel.
It is a crying shame, therefore, that not everyone in Israel understands the hope or the power inherent in the Jewish presence in Israel. Not every Jew living in Israel understands that the Jewish return to Israel is the bulwark against tyranny and terrorism. In fact, there are some for whom the Jewish presence in Israel is more of a hindrance, a nuisance that must be limited and threatened.
And so, a group of those people – calling themselves the Peace Now organization – held a counter protest across the street from Beck’s main event this evening. In a letter they wrote to one of the headline guests at Beck’s rally, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post today, they stated that “there is no place for extreme political rallies at the holy site, the Western Wall, and there is no place for collaboration with a person like Glenn Beck. We call upon you to cancel your appearance and not to contribute your voice to this terrible event.”
One need not agree with Glenn Beck’s politics in order to appreciate his unstinting support for Israel and his unwavering identification with Jewish freedom and destiny – or to see the blatant hypocrisy and outright anti-Semitism in Peace Now’s statement.
Since when is a rally showing support for Israel a “terrible event”? Since when is a gathering to encourage the Jewish return to Israel an “extreme political rally”? And since when does Peace Now care a whit about what is appropriate at the Western Wall – a site that they would just as soon see in Palestinian hands coming to the same horrific end as the dozens of synagogues in Gush Katif and Jericho, the Tomb of Joseph in Shchem, and other holy sites that Peace Now couldn’t be bothered to defend?
For all of Glenn Beck’s controversy, one thing has continued to shine through for me, and that is his humanity. When five members of the Fogel family were murdered while asleep in their home in March, Beck referred to the story in three separate broadcasts of his show (here, here and here). He spoke quietly about the horror, and about the dignity of the grandparents who were left to care for the surviving children, and of 12-year-old Tamar in her struggle to come to grips with the enormity of her tragedy.
Glenn Beck understands the power of the Jewish will to survive. He understands the heroism of a 12-year-old girl whose awesome courage defeated the terrorists who murdered her parents with just a few simple sentences. And he has thrown his lot in with those who continue to live in Israel – facing down anti-Semitic tyranny and a history of oppression with the simple act of living in our homeland. And so he has come all the way to Israel to honor that courage and to support that struggle for survival and peace.
It’s just too bad that Peace Now can’t do the same, preferring to show their cowardice, considering Jewish survival a “terrible event”, and rejecting true peace that they claim so loudly to support. Glenn Beck''s message is that it is only through the steadfast and increasing Jewish presence in Israel that the enemies of peace can be stopped. And that takes courage, not cowardice.