'Restoring Courage' rally broadcast around nation
To passers-by, the scene may have seemed confusing.
A crowd of 200 people, mostly white Christians, gathered outside the Statehouse Wednesday morning, some draped in Israeli flags and others carrying signs containing the Star of David. One person had an Israeli flag umbrella; another, an Israeli flag tie; another, a dog with a sign written in Hebrew around its neck.
They stood in front of a television screen broadcasting a live shot from Israel where a rabbi stepped to the lectern to offer a prayer and an explanation:
“God, I ask you to bless this gathering of Jews and Christians, organized by your faithful servant Glenn Beck.”
It was all part of former Fox News commentator Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” satellite rally, a follow-up to his “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, D.C. last year. The rally was broadcast from Israel to groups of Israel and Beck supporters across the United States.
Beck, who received heavy criticism for his controversial opinions during his time at Fox, has long expressed his support for Israel. But some critics say countering Palestine is an ulterior motive for his stance. Beck has repeatedly expressed his opposition to a two-state solution in the Middle East.
Beck, who spoke from the Old City in East Jerusalem, advocated a new way forward in Israel and railed against what he described as the bullying of diplomats and human rights organizations.
“The diplomats are afraid. They are cowards, and so they submit,” Beck said. He also described human rights organizations that “attack” Israel for violence within its borders as “bullies and grotesque examples” of the principles that underlie their work.
He also spoke in broad terms to Israelis and to his supporters.
“To overcome fear, we need only one thing: courage. Truth and courage,” he said. “God is not indifferent to Israel. He will not forsake you or destroy you.”
Courage was an accordingly prominent theme throughout the event, as Beck repeatedly shared stories from Israel he believed to represent his ideal of courage and presented their subjects with “Restoring Courage” awards.
Beck announced his intent to travel to South Africa and to meet with South American leaders over the weekend and encouraged viewers to make his “Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities” a part of their lives.
S.C. State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who spoke before Beck’s broadcast, added his support for Israel, describing the budget and other crises facing the U.S. as “bits of dust in the wind if you look at the long history of Judaism and the problems they’ve had” and told the crowd that the state holds Israeli bonds in its banking portfolio, “because [in addition to fiscal aspects] there’s always an added bonus to support our friends.”
Reactions to the rally from the crowd gathered downtown were overwhelmingly positive, and many expressed their hopes and fears for Israel.
Romeo Mayo, a salesman from Columbia, said Beck is dead on.
“I think the government is just trying to cater to what other governments are doing against Israel,” Mayo said, adding that he hopes to help more people to understand and care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Others, like Linda Leaman of Columbia, expressed that they felt the rally was an opportunity to show their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish community.
“I have Jewish friends in Cincinnati, and I feel like I’m standing with them,” she said.
One sign at the rally shared Leaman’s sentiment and added a political message: “I stand with Israel. Obama does not speak for me.”
Della Adams was more fearful in her thoughts about US-Israeli relations.
“If we ever turn our back on Israel, I believe God’s wrath is going to come on this country,” Adams said. “No doubt in my mind.”
Alan Clemmons, coordinator of the rally and representative from the 107th House district, which covers Myrtle Beach, said the S.C. House recently passed a resolution in support of Israel.
“My hope is that other states will likewise have a groundswell of support so that it will be a bottom-to-top change of philosophy for where America is going with regard to its best friend in the Middle East,” Clemmons said.