Op-Ed: I Stand With Glenn Beck
Dr. Emmanuel NavonThe author heads the Political Science and Communications Department at the Jerusalem Orthodox College, and teaches International Relations at Tel-Aviv University and at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
IThe UN and the so-called human rights NGOs “have become bullies and grotesque parodies of the principles they pretend to represent. They criticize free nations and spare the unfree. They denounce nations like Israel and America, who have high standards for freedom, and leave alone nations that have no freedom at all. They are nearly comical in their double-standards. Whatever moral force they once had is spent.”
If those words of truth and common sense had been pronounced by Tzipi Livni, Israel’s mainstream media would be applauding. But since those words were pronounced by Glenn Beck near the Temple Mount during his “Restoring Courage” event last week, we are told that they reflect insanity and constitute an obstacle to peace.
The American NGO “Media Matters for America,” whose declared purpose is to “correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” has consistently been on Glenn Beck’s case. Among Media Matters’ backers is George Soros who, incidentally, also gives money to J-Street. Media Matters has been instrumental in getting Beck fired from Fox News.
In the US, the likes of Georges Soros are trying to silence Glenn Beck. In Israel, most journalists are at pains to describe him as a wacko who should be ignored.
Jonathan Lis from Ha’aretz called Beck’s event in Jerusalem last week a “circus” and he couldn’t hide his dismay at Beck’s decision to honor Rami Levy and the Mayor of Itamar.
Rami Levy was honored because his recently-opened supermarket in Gush Etzion provides a model of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, and because he donates food both to the orphans of the Fogel family and to Muslims during Ramadan.
As for the Mayor of Itamar, he was honored because it is in his town that the Fogel family was savagely murdered this past March. But since both Rami Levy’s model of coexistence and generosity and the tragedy of the Fogel family are beyond the “green line,” Ha’aretz has to treat them with scorn.
As for Tal Schneider from Israel’s business daily Globes, he called Beck an “extremist” because Beck opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as the division of Jerusalem, and because he blames radical Islam for many of the world’s ills.
Most Israelis oppose the division of Jerusalem. Are they also “extremists”? And was Samuel Huntington an extremist for stating that “Islam has bloody borders”?
Jonthan Lis and Tal Schneider used similar words to express their distaste of Glenn Beck. Lis wrote that “an Israeli crowd would not have identified with Beck’s messages.” As for Schneider, he wrote that “Israelis, even when they tend to be right-wing, are deterred by the extremist messages of a foreign Christian.”
What Lis and Schneider mean by “Israeli” is the small social fringe that they represent: liberal, urban, and secular. But most Israelis are not WASPs (White Ashkenazi Sabra Paratroopers), and many of them actually do identify with Beck’s message. Tal Schneider has no problem with “the extremist messages of a foreign Christian” when the latter is named Jimmy Carter.
Jonathan Lis and Tal Schneider are not Glenn Beck’s only Israeli foes, of course. Those foes include strange bedfellows, such as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (the recognized leader of Ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian Judaism), and Yariv Oppenheimer (Director of the left-wing “Peace Now” movement).
Rabbi Eliashiv publicly expressed his opposition to Glenn Beck. Yariv Oppenheimer organized a small demonstration against him. By contrast, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin opened Beck’s event with a blessing.
Rabbi Riskin’s message was, in substance, the following: Zionism is the realization of God’s promise to the Jewish people and we should welcome Glenn Beck for proclaiming this truth to the world.
Rabbi Eliashiv believes that Zionism is a revolt against God. For Oppenheimer, Zionism has nothing to do with God.
For here is what Glenn Beck said: “My Israeli friends, I have a message: You must not lose hope. You must not lose confidence. You must have courage. And you must draw courage from the knowledge that you were led to this land by God. Not by the hand of any man, whether his name is Balfour or Truman, does Israel exist. Israel is here because the God of Abraham keeps His covenants.”
Except for the references to Balfour and Truman, this is, in substance, what Rashi says in his comment of Genesis’ first verse: that when the nations claim that the Jews stole the Land of Israel, the Jew’s only justification, ultimately, is that God created the world and granted the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.
This is the bottom line, this is what Glenn Beck said, and this is what really infuriates those who reject this vision.
“Condemn me. Target me” said Beck. “I will stand with Israel.” These are words of courage, which have cost Beck, and continue to cost him, dearly.
Standing with Glenn Beck, in Israel, can be costly as well. This is why so many Israeli journalists and academics, out of concern for their reputation and media approval, have been at pains to distance themselves from Beck.
I am not judging them, but let me make this clear: I stand with Glenn Beck.