On the fringes of Jerusalem’s most volatile holy sites, U.S. conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck declared his support for Israel on Wednesday at a rally showcasing fundamentalist Christian backing for the Jewish state.
Beck’s “Restoring Courage” event, in an archaeological park Israel has built in an area of Jerusalem it captured in a 1967 war, has stirred little interest among most Israelis, who are unfamiliar with the controversial right-wing commentator who is an outspoken critic of U.S. President Barack Obama.
But Beck’s visit to Israel, where he was accompanied by evangelical U.S. Christian preachers, has been followed with trepidation by American Jewish critics, Israeli left-wing activists and Arab legislators who cautioned that he could stoke tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
“In Israel you can find people who will stand against incredible odds, against the entire tide of global opinion, just because it’s right, just because it’s good and just because it’s true,” Beck told an adoring audience of some 1,700 that included leaders of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank as well as right-wing Israeli politicians.
Beck said the event, held in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, was beamed to more than 1,400 venues in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America where Christian supporters of Israel held viewing parties.
Israeli security was tight around the East Jerusalem site, described by Beck as “the throne of God”, adjacent to Judaism’s Western Wall and the sacred plaza known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary. No violence was reported.
A Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000 after then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the compound, which houses Islam’s al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine and where two biblical Jewish temples once stood.
About 30 protesters from the anti-settler group Peace Now that was opposed to the rally held up placards nearby with signs reading “Go Beck Home”, among others.
Beck warned his audience with his powerful rhetoric of impending dangers around the world.
“The world needs courage more than ever before ... you don’t really have to be a prophet to know that things aren’t really going that well. The threats are mounting and evil is growing, darkness is falling. Far too many politicians are just too willing to look away,” he said.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim that is not recognised internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war , as the capital of a state they aspire to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel withdrew settlers from Gaza in 2005.
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