One year after hosting a mega rally in Washington, D.C, conservative pundit Glenn Beck gathered supporters near a holy site in Israel Wednesday. The event, which was not without controversy given its location and host, was smaller than some of his past assemblies, but that did not stop Beck from a full display of rhetoric.
"In Israel, there is more courage in one square mile than in all of Europe," Beck said in his keynote address. The event, titled "Restoring Courage," was billed as a rally to declare support for the Jewish state.
"In Israel," Beck continued, "there is more courage in one soldier than in the combined and cold hearts of every bureaucrat at the United Nations. No country is perfect. But it tries, and it is courageous. Today, the world needs courage more than ever."
You can watch a video from the event above.
Israeli religious and political figures both on the left and right came out against the rally, presumably as a reaction to Beck's track record of controversial remarks. There was even a Facebook page called "Glenn Beck Stay Home" created in protest.
But in the end, 1,700 supporters showed for the sold-out event, and an additional 3,000 gathered at a nearby viewing station where it was beamed in live, a spokesman for Beck told The Cutline. The Guardian, among others, contested those figures, reporting a "surprising number of empty seats belied the organisers' claims that demand for tickets had outstripped availability." Many of the attendees were evangelical Christians from the United States, according to reports.
The Beck spokesman also said there were 100 reporters on hand to cover the rally. Nevertheless, it didn't manage to spark quite the media frenzy as Beck's August 2010 "Restoring Honor" rally in the nation's capital, which reportedly drew some 100,000 people to the National Mall. (A late-summer jaunt to Israel, of course, was probably not realistic for many of Beck's core supporters in the states.)
To an extent, Beck has fallen off the radar since his departure earlier this summer from Fox News Channel, where he was the 5 p.m. anchor. He significantly built up the network's ratings for that time slot, though they began to slip last year as some viewers and advertisers became increasingly wary of his polarizing rhetoric.
But critics shouldn't write Beck off just yet. His subscription-based daily web TV show premieres on Sept. 12, and in anticipation, Beck has been beefing up the talent roster. Beck plans to expand the show into a full-fledged media site called GBTV that will feature news, opinion, and entertainment content under the banner of his production company, Mercury Radio Arts.
"It seems like everything we have been doing at Mercury for the past few years has been leading to the launch of GBTV," he told The Cutline in June. "As I keep telling my staff, GBTV is a verb--we don't want couch potatoes, we want active engagement from our viewers and will provide them with shows that encourage just that."