The paranoid right-wing conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck has decided to take his propaganda machine to Israel. After Beck unsuccessfully “Restored Hope” in the United States last year, he decided that Israel needed him to “Restore Courage” there with his bizarre and emotional speeches. The image from above is true courage, unlike Glenn Beck’s attempt to restore it. I just have so many questions about Glenn Beck’s attempt to “Restore Courage” in Israel, and it can only be summed up by: “Why?”
Why do Israelis care what Beck thinks or says? Do they even know who he is? Do they know that he was so loony that even Fox News kicked him off the network? Do they know that the Anti-Defamation League criticized Beck for some inflammatory comments that may be interpreted as anti-Semitic, including one that compared Reform Judaism to radicalized Islam? Do they know that he has managed to offend just about every constituency, except for perhaps the Christian fundamentalists? And why are Christian fundamentalists so attracted to Israel and the conservative Jewish movement? Out of no disrespect to any of the religions, but I struggle to see why Beck has any authority to give a religiously motivated political lecture in Israel. Of course, Beck claims his tour is strictly theological, but he is using a theological message to try to influence Israel not to make peace with Palestine or allow Palestine to have its own state. Clearly he is using religion as a tool to push forward his own political agenda, which does not affect him outside of some religious extremist belief. Fortunately some U.S. Jews have warned Israeli Jews not to trust Beck.
I am also a bit surprised that the Christian fundamentalists have embraced Beck, a Mormon, as one of their spokesmen. Mormons are theologically two prophets removed from Judaism, which is the same as Islam (and the Mormon’s final prophet came much later than Islam’s final prophet). I have heard the argument that Mormons are not “true Christians” because of this, including from a Theology professor about a decade ago. Though she was clearly biased by her own fundamentalist Christian beliefs, she taught the class that Christians do not accept Mormons as “true Christians.” I am not a student of theology, and I have no interest in deciding who is or who is not a “true Christian,” but my point is that it was only ten years ago that a fundamentalist Christian theologian taught me that Mormons are not true Christians; since then, a Mormon has emerged as a leader of the conservative Christian fundamentalist movement. Apparently the Christian right’s attitudes towards Mormons have shifted dramatically over the past decade.
The final set of questions I have are about the supposed lack of “courage” in Israel. It took courage for 250,000+Israeli citizens to protest against their flawed government’s inability to provide them with adequate living standards. However, according to Beck these protesters were not courageous, they were “Communists.” So who needs courage then in Israel? Apparently the Israeli government needs to be courageous by refusing to accept any peace deal with the Palestinians, rejecting their right to statehood, and continuing to build on their land while defying UN orders. But then why is he “restoring” courage? That’s simply keeping the status quo. Beck and I clearly have different understandings of what “restore” and “courage” means. For Israel to “Restore Courage,” they need to have the courage to sit down with the Palestinian Authority as equals, reach a fair compromise with them that is loosely based off the 1967, and recognize their statehood. Of course, the Palestinian Authority also needs to recognize the nation of Israel as part of this peace negotiation, but it would only truly be restoring the courage of Israel if they put their religious fundamentalism aside and lived up to the peace process that former Prime Minister Yitzkah Rabin died for.
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11