The largest Christian Zionist organization in the United States, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), will hold its 10th Annual Summit next week in Washington, DC. Evangelical megachurch pastor and CUFI founder John Hagee will speak, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and others. Hagee considers himself a strong supporter of Israel against a US administration he asserts has acted against God’s will by attempting to negotiate for peace in the Middle East. And so his organization, which boasts two million members, is working to enlist and encourage religious leaders throughout the country to support its cause, with damaging effects on US foreign relations.
Pretenses to prophetic insight notwithstanding, Hagee demonstrates a dubious ability to interpret divine intent. In his 2006 book Jerusalem Countdown, he writes that the Bible foretold that God would use human agents to orchestrate the return of the Jews to their ancient land. One of these agents, according to Hagee, was Adolf Hitler:
God then sent the hunters…. No one could see the horror of the Holocaust coming, but the force and fear of Hitler’s Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have—Israel.
Hagee then goes on to describe in the same paragraph God’s “boundless love for Israel and the Jewish people.”
What sort of love is this? It might be more rationally described as the ultimate abusive relationship. Hagee’s horrifying narrative begs the question of what six million Jews could possibly have done to deserve such a fate.
Beyond his disturbing interpretations of historical events, Hagee is factually challenged on a number of points. In his book he states, “The Palestinians should revise their charter calling for the destruction of Israel.” The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) did so in 1996, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself. Hagee also fails to distinguish the moderate Palestinian leadership that remains in control in the West Bank from Hamas, which Hagee is strengthening by supporting Netanyahu’s humiliation of the moderates.
One of the best ways Christians can support Israel is by challenging the acquiescence of the US Congress to Israel’s provocative (and illegal) settlement expansions. Netanyahu’s pursuit of security through territorial annexation is a chimera that will only exacerbate Israel’s and the United States’ security problems.
Fifty-seven Arab and Muslim states under Saudi Arabia’s leadership offered Israel recognition in 2002, contingent upon Israel’s implementation of a two-state solution. Netanyahu spurned this last spring, and Congress, pressured by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other organizations including CUFI, has declined to impose consequences for it.
Unconditional support for this aggressive behavior will only contribute to more unnecessary bloodshed. Advocates of Israeli expansionism, however, will continue to exploit Hagee’s superstitions for political gain as long as Americans allow themselves to remain spellbound by his charisma.