On Wednesday, hundreds of San Diegans gathered to watch a delayed broadcast of Glenn Beck’s “Stand With Israel” event, which took place in Jerusalem. I attended the local broadcast at Liberty Station in Point Loma, which was sponsored by Christians United for Israel of California, and Eagle Forum of San Diego.
Beforehand, I talked to Pastor Greg Stephens of Christians United for Israel about the event’s purpose. He emphasized that it was non-political, despite the perception that this was a conservative event. The goal is to support Israel as a friendly democratic nation, and as a touchstone for civilized society, he said.
(UPDATE: A brief interview with Stephens)
“This is not a Republican/Democrat thing, this is not a political thing, Jewish/Christian thing,” Stephens said. “It is standing together for principles that are right and correct. “This is a Judaeo-Christian nation. That’s how we were founded.”
I asked Stephens what is the greatest threat to Israel. He said, “the neighborhood,” meaning Israel’s Middle East neighbors. “We would have peace in the Middle East tonight, if the neighborhood in the Middle East would lay down their weapons. Israel has demonstrated time after time after time their willingness to even give land for peace and it’s never worked. A hundred rockets have flown in this week from Gaza to Israel.”
Stephens said that while his religion causes him to support Israel, the country’s values transcend religion.
“They are a democracy: Women vote, gays are in Israel, it’s the most tolerant nation in the whole region,” Stephens said. “It’s not about liberal or conservative, it’s about standing for human rights. It’s about standing for what is right.”
“The purpose of this is to wake up this silent majority to stand for truth, to stand with courage,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting Mr. Beck and so in speaking with him about a month ago, I decided, let’s rent a venue. This (place) is not a church, and it’s not political. We’ll show what’s happening in Israel.”
Stephens and some of the organizers spoke before and after the broadcast from Jerusalem, which featured some beautiful music and inspirational speeches, including tributes to Israeli victims of terrorism and to Arabs and Israelis who bridge religious and ethic divides by working together for peace. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat spoke eloquently about the meaning of his ancient city.
That would have been fine, but — dissenting opinion alert! – Glenn Beck himself spoke far too long for my taste. I don’t really like Beck that much — I find him overly histrionic — and I got an overdose. YMMV. In my opinion, Beck would have been twice as effective had he spoke half as much. And then there’s the God thing, which as an atheist I don’t find inspirational. The stories of the victims of terrorism and those working to overcome it, on the other hand, are universal and moving.
But in fairness, this event in Jerusalem was Beck’s brainchild, so he had every right to speak as long as he wished. The stories of terror, courage and redemption told at the event, so symbolically situated in the heart of old Jerusalem, the city of peace, should always be remembered.
Finally, here’s my view about how the media covered Beck’s event. SD CityBeat’s preview of the local viewing by Dave Maass was called out by the most excellent Rostrafarian Gabriella Hoffman for being biased, including a discussion of a neo-Nazi flirtation by her partner in organizing the San Diego event, who was converted away from anti-Semitism by Glenn Beck.
My reply is that CityBeat is openly left-liberal, so bias is to be expected. I have no problem with advocacy journalism, whether by Rush Limbaugh or in CityBeat, as long as it’s not hidden. While Gabriella is understandably dismayed, Maass was not out of bounds in bringing up the issue of the former neo-Nazi. He described the thing as “weird,” which is an opinion. Conservative Christians such as Glenn Beck supporters would disagree, because building support for Israel and fighting anti-Semitism is part of what Glenn Beck does. But to people of a leftist orientation, accustomed to thinking of Beck as a bigoted ogre, and probably a neo-Nazi himself, Beck’s role was indeed “weird.”
I advise my conservative brethren not to worry so much about bias from publications that openly declare their politics. Far more troublesome to you should be the bias that appears in supposedly “objective” news outlets such as the ever-reliable Always Partisan. As I’ve discussed here before, leftist AP reporters repeatedly bake their leftist politics into supposedly “objective” articles. The unappetizing result may give you intellectual indigestion.
Here’s an example of such biased “objective” reporting from Always Partisan, as it probably appeared in countless newspapers and Web sites. An excerpt:
“Beck’s unabashedly pro-Israel, anti-Muslim rhetoric has endeared him to some on Israel’s far-right. But religious figures and left-wing politicians have come together in an unusual alliance appealing to Israelis to shun his embrace.”
Editorialize much, AP?
Here is what appears to be a more complete version of the story on AP’s Web site, which this time includes the reporter’s name. Seven paragraphs of the story, which purportedly is about Beck’s rally in Jerusalem, is devoted to attacking Beck with examples of his past misbehavior, real or imagined. Just one paragraph is devoted to reporting what Beck actually said.
This version is improved over the first one I linked to, in that it gives examples of left-wing Israelis who oppose Beck. But it doesn’t give any examples to back up its claim that Israeli “religious figures” also voiced opposition.
Unless some longer and more balanced story is lurking somewhere, I think it’s fair to conclude that the reporter personally detests Glenn Beck, and so turned a story allegedly about the event into an opportunity to attack Beck. (And even if such a more balanced version exists, what really matters is the biased version the public gets to see).
Always Partisan runs this biased tripe all the time, giving people leftist politics while claiming to be neutral. People who aren’t aware of the subterfuge, thankfully a diminishing number, are fooled.
Conservatives, publications such as SD CityBeat should be the least of your concerns. Instead, be on the watch for advocacy journalists in “objective” drag.
(DISCLAIMER — This is my opinion, and not necessarily that of the North County Times, my employer.)