On Wednesday night about 20 rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, wounding a nine-month-old girl and damaging property. The barrage continued on Thursday night with another 15 rockets or so.
On the whole it was a rough week for Israel. On Monday, after four days of fighting with Gaza-based terror organizations sparked by last Thursday’s multipronged terror attack on southern Israel, Hamas—which is in charge of Gaza—claimed it was agreeing to a ceasefire. It proved shaky at best, with sporadic rocket fire continuing, and collapsed completely on Wednesday evening.
But that wasn’t all. On Sunday a young Egyptian carpenter named Ahmed al-Shahat became a national hero when, as Israel Hayom recounts, he
scaled 15 stories to the roof of the Israeli Embassy [in Cairo] in full view of dozens of police and soldiers, and replaced the Israeli flag flying there with an Egyptian one. Shahat threw the Israeli standard down at the crowd, which tore it up and set it on fire.
Inspired, on Tuesday another crowd of Egyptians removed the Israeli flag from the home of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and demanded that Egypt scrap its peace treaty with Israel—signed in 1979 with great, almost chiliastic fanfare. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman conveyed a demand that Egyptian officials reinstate the flags; Cairo replied that “the masses won’t allow it.” For Friday there were plans for a “million-man march” against the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in legendary Tahrir Square.
Those masses have been particularly enraged since three (or five, depending on reports) Egyptian soldiers died, apparently accidentally, in a firefight last Thursday after Israeli forces chased jihadist terrorists back into Egyptian Sinai. The terrorists had come from Sinai and killed eight Israelis in the multipronged attack.
Amid this onslaught of violence and hate, also on Wednesday Glenn Beck, a non-Jewish media personality, gave a speech beside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Anticipated to be a huge event, in the end it drew only about a thousand people, mostly American Evangelical Christians; though it was also watched in Jerusalem’s Safra Square and by over 1400 viewing parties in 60 countries all over the world.
Beck’s message, in any case, was very different from those Israel has been receiving from its neighbors. He said:
In Israel, there is more courage in one square mile than in all of Europe. In Israel, there is more courage in one soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations.
“Human rights,” they say. But who will they focus on? Libya? Syria? North Korea? No. They will condemn Israel. Tiny Israel. Democratic Israel. Free Israel. Israel, which values life above all other things.
The diplomats are afraid, and so they submit. They surrender to falsehood. The truth matters not. To the keepers of conventional wisdom, a sacrifice of the truth is a small price to pay. What difference does it make if we beat up on little Israel? These are the actions of the fearful and cowards.
And so I say that if the world decides it must know who will stand with Israel, who will stand with the Jewish people, so they know exactly who to condemn, who to target, let them know this. Condemn me. Target me. I will stand with Israel. I will stand with the Jewish people. And if they want to round us up again, I will proudly raise my hand and say “Take me first.”
Beck also outlined his plan to start a worldwide grassroots movement to defend Israel against the UN and the “human rights” organizations. He said that in South America on Friday he would meet with “a group of nearly 5,000 local leaders from all over the continent and ask them to join me in standing in defense of Israel, the Jewish people and responsibility.”
Are Beck’s unique message and activities making an impression on Israel itself? Only to a limited extent. Some of the reasons have to do with Beck. His Protestant-revivalist style of oratory is quaint and foreign to most Israelis. Some Jewish Israeli religious leaders fear that his message is actually Christian.
More significant, though, is Israel’s left-dominated media’s hostility to Beck. In a discussion of the problem, Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak quote, for instance, Tal Schneider of Israel’s Globes business daily: “It could be that he repels the Israeli public since he does not speak Hebrew, or because the Israelis and even the right-wingers among them are repelled by the extremist views of a foreigner and Christian who preaches hate and extreme racism.”
Similar calumnies—reliably blind to their own bigotry—have appeared on Israel’s Haaretz, NRG, and Ynet websites, though, as Medad and Pollak also note, the new, popular, right-leaning Israel Hayom daily gives Beck a fair shake (see a short, highly appreciative piece here).
But however much the people he is helping will know how much he is helping them, Beck, because of the profundity of his commitment, is certain to keep to his path. Informed Israelis will be aware of what a great—and greatly needed—friend they have.