In the general hub-bub of the commentary following Glenn Beck’s Restoring Courage tour in Israel, many points were made and many were missed, but here is my eyewitness account, having been there as a guest of the pro-liberty organization, FreedomWorks.
American media personality, Glenn Beck, who runs the second-most popular radio show in the United States following Rush Limbaugh, invited his listeners to attend his three-day Israel jamboree. About 2,000 American Christians took him up on his offer and did so, paying top dollar. Having attended all three events, the first in Caesarea, and the following two in Jerusalem, I can tell you that I found the interaction to be a milestone event in the history of the world.
For the first time, Christians were approaching Jews with not only love, but also with respect. These Christians went to honor the people who honor G-d; that is, the Jews.
On this tour, we Jews and the Christians there were supporting each other spiritually and working through all the issues that one could imagine. We Jews should welcome the support and powerful message of Pastor John Hagee and his hundreds of thousands of supporters in Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States.
Among the speakers, Pastor David Barton, a friend of Beck’s, led off the Caesarea forum by saying, “This is what we owe the Jews: Western Civilization.”
Pastor Tom Mullins, another Beck friend, said: “If we honor G-d, we will be honored by G-d. Love always honors and we honor those [the Jews] who have honored G-d.”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat, Israel, whose encouragement moved Beck to hold the tour in Israel, welcomed more opportunities, to carry the powerful message of Judaism to the world’s Christians. Riskin was, of course, referring to those Christians, who humbly endeavor to be our brothers, at last, rather than as in the past our unwanted saviors.
Riskin also said that the Jews have never been alone in history. “If you are alone with G-d, you are a majority of one.”
In his keynote speech, Hagee said, “Our hope is the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac and the G-d of Jacob,” using the words familiar to all Jews who pray the standing amida prayer, three times each day. “Let Israel know,” Hagee said, “that 50 million evangelicals are with you and you are not alone.”
Then Hagee said, “(Israel’s) enemies are our enemies. All free men are citizens of Israel.” Then, in Hebrew, Hagee said, “Ani Yisraeli” (I am an Israeli).
Actor John Voight spoke strongly about why he supports Israel and Jewish causes around the world. “The Jews have given mankind the perfect tools for living: the Torah.”
Speaking about terrorism against Israel and its citizens, Voight said, “I am outraged by anyone in the world who excuses this barbarism. I have contempt for anyone who is not intelligent enough to see it. There is no need for terrorism for the sake of peace.”
And what about Beck? He has been vilified for rightly criticizing George Soros, which some see as anti-Semitic attacks. This is preposterous; Soros richly deserves such condemnation for undermining the American ideal.
Beck is a true friend of Israel. He is deeply moved and haunted by the silence of the world to Jewish suffering.
In his final talk, Beck spoke about looking evil in the eye, and “it will back down.” His final thought he delivered in Hebrew, quoting Psalm 23, “Lo ei-Ra ra” (I will not fear evil), which is followed by the line, “because G-d is with me.”
As for the reaction in Israel and the United States, I’d have to say it was muted. Those who knew about the Restoring Courage tour were small in number. It received a fair amount of publicity in the Jerusalem Post, but Israel being Israel, there was much more going on, including, unfortunately, a terrorist attack that killed seven Israelis near the Egyptian border in the south of the country.
Upon returning to the United States, I mentioned that I was in Israel for the Beck event, and many had not even heard of Beck at all.
Nevertheless, for those of us who were there, many of us have concluded that Israel, the country and its people, outside of the land and inside, have much work ahead of us engaging with, Christians — yes, Christians — revolving around the everlasting covenant between G-d and Abraham, as written in the Bible.
(Dan Wiseman lives in Squirrel Hill.)