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Restoring Courage

In just over a week, on 8/24/11, talkshow host Glenn Beck will stand on the Temple Mount in Israel and speak, along with many world leaders, at the Restoring Courage Rally.

Glenn Beck is, by virtue of the stand he has taken, a very polarizing figure of our times. Most people you talk to either love him or hate him, and then there’s the few that don’t quite know what to make of him.

I’ll admit, there was a time I belonged to the last group. I’m cynical and suspicious by nature, and I believe there’s few people in this world who act without an agenda, typically a hidden one. I wanted to believe Beck’s concern for this country was genuine, but I just didn’t know.

Then, last August, the Restoring Honor Rally was held in Washington, D.C. Five large passenger buses left our small, rural county to attend the rally. I was on one of them, captaining the No. 2 bus along with a retired Navy veteran.

We got to D.C. late, snarled in traffic by the metros. We got to the rally even later—missed most of it. By the time our group of 250 ended up on the Mall, the closest we could get was the downslope of the Washington Monument toward the Reflecting Pool—too far away to really hear the speech Beck made that day.

Yet that day was a life-changing experience for me, as I know it was for many. Why? I didn’t need to hear that speech to learn everything I needed to know about Beck. For me, there’s always been one way to take the measure of a leader. You look at the caliber of the people who “follow” him.

We were truly one that day—many of the finest of America’s citizens. To see an elderly man in the center of center of the World War II Memorial, standing ramrod straight beneath the hot August sun as his granddaughter pinned the last campaign medal to the chest of his dress khakis. To see strangers join hands singing “God Bless America” as they waited for hours at the metro. To see hundreds of thousands pack the Mall that day, yet in the crowd, I heard not an angry word, saw no tempers flare.

 It was a truly spiritual experience, to see that many people united in their love of country. And in that moment, I made up my mind about Glenn Beck. This was not the mindless mob of the far Left, handed free bus tickets and shipped into D.C—we were there at significant personal cost. These were strong, fiercely independent people, not the type to follow every passing leader. And I came to believe that this man was for real. . .

Flash forward a year, and the “Arab spring” hailed as the rise of the democracy by so many around the world has left Israel tragically vulnerable. With the ever-increasing threat of Iran in the East, and the fall of the Mubarak government in Egypt to the west, Israel stands increasingly alone.

It’s not a big place—a thin strip of ancestral land reclaimed from the hands of their enemies and backed against the sea. In a fighter jet, you can traverse Israel from Golan to Beer-sheba in fourteen minutes. Yet they’ve survived for sixty-three years, despite the threat of enemies who make no secret of their desire to exterminate the Jewish state.

Forget what the politicians say—Israel is our only reliable ally in the Middle East. If we do not stand with Israel in this their hour of need, we will stand alone ourselves at the end of the day. It’s that simple.

Perhaps we forget that we’ve seen this all before. In the 1930s, the Jewish race stood on the brink of extinction, caught between a power-hungry dictator and an indifferent world. In 1939, on the eve of war, nearly a thousand Jews boarded the S.S. St. Louis in a desperate bid to leave Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust.

 The plan had been to disembark in Cuba and await admission to the United States from there, but nothing went as planned. By the time the St. Louis arrived in port at Havana, a resolution had been passed forcing all “refugees” to pay an additional fee to land. It was a fee the passengers could not afford to pay, and eventually the Cuban navy would force the liner to leave harbor, steaming north toward Florida in the desperate hope that the United States might accept the refugees.

 It was not to be. With smoke already rising from the ovens of Dachau, the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood its ground. The immigration quotas could not/would not be raised in this extremity.

With food running low, the S.S. St. Louis began the return voyage to Europe. Several countries(Holland, Belgium, France, and Britain) volunteered to accept some of the refugees, but within two years, three of those nations had themselves been overrun by Hitler’s storm troopers. And the Jewish refugees who had once sought refuge at the door of the United States found themselves headed once more for the death camps. In the aftermath of WWII and the ghastly exposure of places like Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald, we vowed to ourselves—“Never again.”

Never again would we stand by and let God’s chosen people be threatened with extermination. Never. Never again.

And yet here we stand. Over the past two years, since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, I’ve heard the comparisons to Hitler. It’s rubbish—Obama is no Hitler. But Hitler is rising once more in the Middle East, from the streets of Tehran to the mobs of Tahrir Square, a monster bent on the extermination of the Jews.

And Obama may well be the Roosevelt who stands by and allows it to happen.

This August 24th, and in the days ahead, stand for the truth. Stand with courage. And stand with Israel.

Never again. . .

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