Glenn Beck - AP - August 2011
U.S. TV commentator Glenn Beck. Photo by AP
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Israel's international standing and relationship with Jewish-Americans is threatened as Israel is increasingly linked to right-wing political agendas in the United States. This situation has been exacerbated as controversial American broadcaster Glenn Beck has tried to remake himself into Israel's champion. Beck, who is currently in Israel to lead his "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem, has become a marginal and toxic figure in the United States. So much so that Fox News ended his daily show earlier this year.

Beck has used his media platforms to promote secular anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and evangelical end-times prophets. What these two groups have in common is an obsession with Jews and the belief that Jews control and manipulate the lives and destiny of non-Jews.

Although Beck is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism ), he has developed close ties with a group of evangelicals who are career Christian Zionists. Beck headlined this year's conference of Christians United for Israel (CUFI ), founded by televangelist John Hagee. Hagee had appeared several times on Beck's show, including one where they speculated the earth as we know it would end within 20 years.

Beck's embrace by Israeli leaders is further indication to Americans that support for Israel is becoming linked to an extreme political agenda in the United States. This threatens to alienate Jews and Christians, Democrats and Republicans.

Ironically, this alienation of Israel is seen by Christian Zionists as fulfilling end-times prophecy, which, they claim, requires a second Jewish holocaust before Jesus returns. Surviving Jews must accept Jesus before a 1000-year Christian utopia, ruled from Jerusalem, can begin.

Beck's cultivation of Israeli leaders follows, step by step, the instructions Christian Zionists have used to gain access to Jewish communities and leaders. One of the most popular of these manuals is the 2001 book, "Your People Shall Be My People," by Don Finto. Finto's network of evangelists is encouraging churches around the world to "bless Israel" by supporting Messianic Jewish ministries and proselytizing Jews. His book has been promoted internationally, including by directors of Hagee's CUFI.

Finto's book provides instructions to: 1 ) avoid overt proselytizing, 2 ) vocally repent of the Holocaust, 3 ) tell Jews that Christian Zionist support is modeled after the biblical story of Ruth with no strings attached, and 4 ) emphasize that Christian Zionists are Israel's only friends in an increasingly hostile world.

Simultaneously these evangelists help to foment hostility toward Jews by teaching a narrative in which Jews hold power over the future of Gentiles.

One week before announcing his candidacy for president, Texas Governor Rick Perry led an all-day prayer rally in a stadium in Houston. Don Finto led the prayer for Israel and openly called for Israelis and all Jews to accept Jesus in order to bring "a great revival to the entire world."

Fortunately, most Christians today do not accept this interpretation of the bible and do not believe they must convert Jews or promote the evangelization of Israel in order to bring about a Christian utopia on earth. Unfortunately, some Jewish leaders are determined to help Glenn Beck and Christian Zionists camouflage their attack on Jews and Judaism, apparently believing that this is in Israel's best interest.

Judging from the warm reception Beck received at the Knesset last month, many Israeli public figures are unaware of just how problematic he is. If many of them decide to participate in his Jerusalem rally, they risk identifying Israel with all he represents. Israel's relationship with mainstream Jewish-Americans will suffer immense damage, as will its international image.

 

The writer is an independent researcher specializing in Christian Zionism in the United States.