The People Who Brought Glenn Beck to Israel
This past week, Glenn Beck, one of Israel's most vocal supporters in the American media, spoke before the Knesset – to the cheers of the many MKs who heard him tell Israelis to remain faithful to their ideals, and remain strong in their struggle. It was, in some ways, an unprecedented visit. Beck, one of the most popular media personalities in the U.S., has millions of listeners and viewers to his radio, TV, and Internet programs. He's considered perhaps the most authoritative conservative commentator, advocating the conservative point of view on dozens of hot-button issues in the U.S.
There are, of course, always hot-button issues to talk about – this summer more than ever, with the deadline quickly approaching for the contentious issue of whether or not to raise the government's debt ceiling.
That, alone, would be enough fodder for any talk show host to handle; add to that the poor economy, the continued U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the daily reports of American citizens outraged at TSA “patdowns,” and myriad other issues, and Beck clearly has a full plate of issues to handle.
And while Israel has nothing, or nearly nothing, to do with any of these issues, Beck took time off to speak to the Knesset and attend a reception with MKs and leaders of Israeli rightwing groups; not only that, but Beck is organizing a rally in Jerusalem in August, to which he is inviting dozens of Congressmen and even several Presidential candidates, including Republican contender Herman Cain, along with Senator Joe Lieberman.
Israel is certainly an important issue – but how is it that Beck has decided that it's an important enough issue to leave the U.S. during one of the hottest political seasons in many years
That question can be answered, at least partially, by three of the founding members of an organization called the World Committee for the Land of Israel, who helped organize Beck's visit. In conjunction with Likud MK Danny Danon and Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev, the three – American activists Odelya Jacobs, Dr. Joseph Frager, and Dr. Paul Brody – arranged for Beck's Knesset visit, the evening reception afterwards, and visits to several communities and sites.
The three activists worked tirelessly to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that Beck's trip was a success – and they're all very satisfied at the end result of their efforts.
Other founding members of the organization include Rabbi David Algaze of Queens, Dr Steven Jacobs, Dr. David Hurwitz, and Eli Hertz.
“Two years ago, we invited Glenn Beck to a dinner of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, which helps the Ateret Cohanim Foundation that works to redeem Jewish property that was lost during the Jordanian occupation of the Old City of Jerusalem,” says Frager. “It was the first major Jewish communal event that he had ever spoken out, and he was visibly moved and excited.”
With that, it wasn't Beck's first trip to Israel, says Dr. Brody. “He's been here before, stretching back to around 2001,” he says. More recently, says Frager, Beck showed his concern for the murdered members of the Fogel family in Itamar by doing several programs exclusively on them. “Again he was the only major media figure who bothered to discuss the massacre, once again showing his high level of care for Israel and Israelis,” Frager says.
While Beck is not a politician - “he's more of an ideologue,” say Frager and Brody – he does have definite political views. “He believes that Jews have a right to live in all parts of the Land of Israel, and that while Arabs have a right to live here, the do not have a right to sovereignty. He has a strong love for Israel and the Jewish people,” says Brody, “and he wants us to know that there are many people around the world who love and appreciate the Jewish people.”
This is not the first project the group has worked on. Frager, Brody and Jacobs were instrumental in bringing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to Israel, and Jacobs has arranged for MK Danny Danon to appear as a guest Middle East affairs commentator on several highly rated media outlets in the U.S., including Beck's radio and TV show, Huckabee's TV show, and the syndicated radio show hosted by Steve Malzberg.
“I try to use my connections with the media to ensure that Israel's story gets heard,” says Jacobs. “Unfortunately we have been losing on the hasbara front, and the more authentic Israeli spokespeople we can get out to consumers of US media, the better,” she says.
Jacobs adds that she and her two friends have worked with MKs Danon and Ze'ev, as well as others, including Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely and National Union MK Aryeh Eldad, securing forums for them to speak to American audiences as well.
“We've worked with the MKs, especially MK Ze'ev, on issues at the UN, especially in forums on indigenous peoples,” says Jacobs. “We are planning an effort to get the UN to recognize the Jewish people as the indigenous people of the Land of Israel,” an effort she describes as “a major uphill battle.”
Frager and Brody (along with his wife Drora) are also, respectively, the Organizer and Chairpersons of the annual Israel Day Concert/Rally in Central Park, which has been going strong for 18 years. The event is a tribute to the memory of Jewish activists Carl Freyer z'l and Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann z'l.
“We’re not here because we built kibbutzim 100 years ago or because of the Holocaust,” says Jacobs. “We’re here because our forefathers have never forgotten our land even though forcibly thrown out 2,000 years ago, and because we mourn it every year and every day, and because it is fundamental to Jewish life.”