Former Fox host Glenn Beck gave a public relations pep talk in the Israeli parliament today, urging legislators not to mince words that the conflict with the Palestinians threatens Israel’s existence.
Mr. Beck is making three solidarity trips to the Jewish state this year at a time when Israelis are anxiety ridden about diplomatic and economic isolation from the deep freeze in the peace process. The parliamentary hearing comes just days after Mr. Beck hosted his last program on the Fox News channel.
He’s the latest US religious conservative figure to find fans among pro-settler Israeli politicians like Danny Danon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party who hosted Beck at a parliamentary committee.
"In America, the media is skewed on Israel," Beck said at a hearing of the Knesset’s Committee on Immigration and Diaspora affairs. "The Israeli Palestinian conflict … is about the destruction of Israel and the end of the western way of life. Period."
Following Beck's comments today, the Israeli Knesset approved a controversial bill that outlaws calls for boycotts of either Israel or its settlements in the West Bank, reflecting the deep unease Israel feels about its position in the world. The law says that people calling for a boycott can be sued, without the plaintiffs having to prove damages.
Beck said he believes that Israelis and Palestinians are fundamentally the same, but that the conflict springs from "rulers that want to control." Later in the summer he is planning a rally in the Old City of Jerusalem that will be dubbed "Restoring Courage," hearkening back to his a rally in Washington a year ago.
He acknowledged that before 9/11, he had little interest in the Middle East. "I was a typical shlub American, I didn’t really know what was going on in the world. If I had NASCAR on the TV I was fine," he said. "The Middle East always seemed like, 'It's been going on for thousands of years. What are we going to do?' "
Mr. Danon said that if pro-Israel advocates like Beck didn’t exist, Israel would have to invent him on their own.