Op/Ed: Why Jews Should Stand with Glenn Beck- By Ari Abramowitz

By Ari Abramowitz

By now, I would imagine that most Jews in Jerusalem know about the upcoming “Restoring Courage” Rally that Glenn Beck is staging in Jerusalemon August 24th. The fact that the reaction to this rally is as varied as the reaction to Beck himself is both tragic and embarrassing and in my mind is all too consistent with a rather self-destructive predisposition our nation has towards seeking the favor of our enemies and alienating our friends.

Glenn Beck is an opinionated and controversial guy and if he is trying to sugar coat his perspectives into being more palatable to his detractors, he is not doing a very good job. While I, personally, agree with him on most issues, there are others on which we disagree. But this rally is not about Glenn Beck or partisan politics. This rally is both about the fate of the State of Israel and the survival of the United States of America.

It’s not easy being a Jew. It takes courage. Today we are facing unprecedented challenges to the fundamental legitimacy of our existence, not only from the UN and the EU, but also from many of our longstanding allies who we have always regarded as our closest and most dependable friends. To add insult to injury, we are also facing greater opposition from within our own camp, primarily emanating from the myriad of far left organizations such as “Peace Now”, “Machsom Watch”, “J-Street”, etc. As I travel throughout the US, one of the most common questions I am asked is why the Jewish People seem willing to abrogate our national homeland and unilaterally surrender large portions of our small country to enemies who are openly committed to our destruction at all costs. And while these questions do, indeed, cut deep, they do not come from a place of belligerence or criticism, but rather of sincere concern and a desire to understand this rather counterintuitive tendency.

While this is a multi-faceted question which is beyond the scope of this article, the answer which I offer is nearly identical to the reason I feel that this rally is of such importance for Israel. As we all know, we are living in times in which it takes tremendous character and conviction to be a proud and unapologetic Jew. It is not easy to stand against the vast majority of world population and unequivocally declare what seems to be the glaringly obvious - that the land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel. For the very act of being a lone voice against the world takes a level of conviction and determination that conflict with the deep seeded desire for universal brotherhood and international acceptance that have been integral attributes in our national psyche and communal personality since biblical times. And while many Jews are up for undertaking this Abrahamic task, others simply succumb to the pressure and grasp the consolation and temporary illusion of security offered to those who will join the masses seeking their demise.

That is why a Jew with the same message as Glenn Beck may not have the same effect. A Jew calling for Jewish courage does not alleviate the sense of isolation and loneliness that a non-Jew with the same message does. That is why this rally, and the movement it represents, is a game changer. No longer are Jews who believe in the Jewish right to the Land of Israel alone. No longer are the masses in Israel confronted with the dilemma of either standing for the right of the State of Israel to exist and being labeled by the international community as racist, oppressive, and crazy or gaining the approval and acceptance of the world by joining their chorus of delegitimization and lies. For the majority of Israelis who are neither intimidated by the magnitude of our adversaries nor frightened to claim our right to our national homeland, this rally is less a critical stand of support, and more a friendly act of solidarity. But for those Jews who have begun to lose faith and clarity in our cause, this rally is, if nothing else, a license to believe in our right to exist.

We recently filmed a show in South Carolina in which State Representative Alan Clemmons joined us to explain what inspired him to pen the most pro-Israel legislation I have ever encountered, as well as Representative Mac Toole who explained why he supported and endorsed the bill. After the program, we brought the legislation to Glenn’s attention, and he immediately hosted Rep. Clemmons on his program to help disseminate this legislation to every other state in the country to encourage them to follow suit.

These brave leaders are not only taking such a strong stance because they support Israel but because they love America. Support and solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People is a gauge of the spiritual and moral health of any nation and is as sure a sign as any of their expected survival. The rise and fall of the superpowers of history can arguably be directly linked to their treatment of the Jewish People and the fate of the United States is no exception. This is not due to the fact that the US and Israel share common enemies and that Israel is on the front lines against foes who have America in their crosshairs as well, rather this is an issue of values. When a nation does not remain true to the fundamental principles upon which it was founded, its demise is all but guaranteed and those behind this rally understand that they are not only fighting for Israel, but for their own survival.

The Hebrew word for Jew, “Yehudi”, comes from the word “lehodot” which means “to thank”. An essential tenant of Judaism is to show gratitude. America has been one of the best countries in world history to the Jewish people, and it is incumbent upon us to show our gratitude by standing with them as they stand with us.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?