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On Sunday, August 21st, former FOX News talk show host and conservative commentator Glenn Beck delivered an address laden with palpable emotion at the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea, Israel, as part of the first fixture leading up to his “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem on August 24th. Speaking to over 3,000 mostly American attendees, Beck exhorted his audience at the monumental venue built in the first century by Herod the Great to “not only love Israel but love the Jewish people as they are.”
Declaring that the entire world is “reentering the age of miracles of God,” he received thunderous applause when he said, “While there may not be a political solution, the good news is the God of Israel ain’t running for office.” While not directly addressing the geo-political realities that Israel faces or his staunch opposition to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Beck said, “Let the Jewish people know, no matter what our governments may say, we are not our governments, we stand with you. We bring truth, we bring peace, we bring support, we bring comfort.”
Simultaneously broadcast to over 80 countries throughout the world and close to 1,200 viewing parties, Beck’s remarks focused on the religious teachings that inspired him in his heartfelt love for Israel, namely the Books of Esther and Ruth. “When Ruth told her mother-in-law Naomi, ‘wherever you goest I shall go, your people shall be my people and your G-d shall be my G-d’, those words were a driving force for me.”
Joining Beck on stage were Pastor John Hagee, an American evangelical icon and founder and president of the Christians United For Israel (CUFI); American born Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat; David Barton, a world renowned historian; and Dr. Mike Evans, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author who has sold over 23 million books. Providing musical entertainment for the evening was Grammy nominated R&B/soul/gospel singer Vernessa Mitchell, who was joined by a vibrant cadre of Israeli singers and musicians.
“The Jews are still the apple of God’s eye, still the chosen people, still the covenant people,” declared Pastor Hagee to a standing ovation as he took the podium. In a powerful statement on the ubiquitous campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel and its growing isolation in the international community, he drew an analogy with the late President John F. Kennedy and his historical “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, when Hagee announced “Ani Yisraeli” (I am an Israeli). He then led the rally participants in chants of: “I am an Israeli!”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, formerly of the Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s upper west side, spoke of Jewish appreciation for the support of the Christian pro-Israel community, and in particular, that of Glenn Beck, who, Riskin said, is a “deeply patriotic American, a true friend of Israel.” Lauding the stoic character of the Christian supporters of Israel, Rabbi Riskin said, “We are not alone. We are Jews and not Christians. You Christians, nevertheless, have the courage to love us in our otherness. We are profoundly grateful for your courage to love us and stand with us.”
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