Unlike his 2010 "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington D.C., the rally received only modest coverage from the American media. Although I could not watch the Restoring Courage gathering in full, I found excerpts of the gathering online that offered a taste of the event.
Mixed messages about ecumenicalism left me puzzled. On one hand, at the 5:02 mark of an excerpt posted at Media Matters, Beck proclaimed that "This plot of earth may be tiny, but it has been large enough for three faiths, and the pilgrims and the faithful who come here. It must be as big as God's heart, and it must remain open to all." In this, Beck came across as ecumenical and welcoming of all Abrahamic faiths in Jerusalem, in sharp contrast to some of his previous statements.
Despite this ecumenical introduction, the Restoring Courage gathering featured several speakers known for their less-than-ecumenical statements. For example, the gathering featured a talk by John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel who generated controversy through his reported anti-Catholic and anti-Islam statements. Also speaking at the rally was right-wing history author David Barton, who has also made controversial statements about non-Christians, according to People for the American Way and the SPLC. Media Matters posted commentary on several controversial speakers at the event, and excerpts of their talks can be seen at www[dot]glennbeck[dot]com/2011/08/22/video-restoring-courage-the-courage-to-love/
Even Beck himself made a statement later that struck me as unecumenical. At the beginning of another excerpt, Beck rejected the idea that Israel was an "apartheid" state, despite criticism of Israel for its human rights record. At the beginning of the YouTube video below, Beck made the following statement.
"Some call Israel an apartheid state. Let us begin here. I reject that, and so the moment I leave this stage, I am flying to South Africa, which is where apartheid actually existed. And I will broadcast from Cape Town tomorrow morning, to remind the world what the evil of apartheid actually looked like." [Applause]
In the same excerpt, Beck mentioned his new nonprofit venture, Mercury One, rooted in the idea that "one man with one God" can make an impact. (See www[dot]glennbeck[dot]com/2011/07/01/glenn-beck-announces-non-profit-venture-mercury-one/). In a theatrical moment, Beck warned his followers of the supposed dangers of following his path at the 1:55 mark.
"It will not be easy for me, and it will not be easy for you. Others, I warn you, will say to you, 'Come! Come this way! Come over the horizon.' But I warn you that horizon is a cliff, and when you don't go along, you will stand out. You will be mocked, and in some cases your life may be in danger. But you must remember, square your shoulders and say lo eira! I fear not."With the demeanor of a devout preacher, Beck delivered a pro-Israel message at Restoring Courage alongside other speakers, spiced with religious language. The purpose of the gathering, I surmised, was to reach out to pro-Israel Christians by providing a religious revival in the romantic Holy Land.
For an irreverent live-blogging of the Restoring Courage rally, visit this Haaretz link. For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.
CBS News: At rally in Israel, Glenn Beck calls for courage
New York Times: At Temple Mount, Glenn Beck Draws Crowd of Hundreds
The Atlantic: Glenn Beck's Ambivalent Welcome in Israel
Jerusalem Post: Feiglin objects to Beck Jerusalem event