by Jane Hunter and Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, March 7, 2007
As the nation turns against war in the Middle East, Christian Zionists continue their agitation for attacking Iran as a way to hasten Armageddon, the end-time. And the most prominent Jewish organizations continue to embrace Christian Zionists as supporters of Israel, which Christian Zionists believe will be the scene of the end-times return of Jesus.
Meanwhile, some Christians are warning of the consequences of the Christian Zionists' agenda. Dr. Stan Moody, author of Countdown to Armageddon, which we've just posted, writes with concern about a fundamentalist drive "to focus American hegemony on the Middle East to orchestrate the return of Christ."
The Jewish organizations are silent about the fundamentalist Christian domestic agenda of their Christian Zionists allies. But that does not mean that Jews around the country are at ease with it.
Last month we saw the influential Jewish weekly, the Forward, reminding Jewish organizational leaders that they may have Congress's ear, but they do not speak for the nation's Jews. The Forward takes as a case in point the environmentalism popular with Jews (and much of the rest of the public) versus the "energy independence" stance of the Jewish organizations, which is seen as being supportive of Israel.
The same disconnect pertains to the Jewish organizations' advocacy for an aggressive US policy toward Iran — the more so because Christian Zionists also favor attacking Iran. Jewish organizational leaders laugh off the fact that their Christian Zionist allies see war with Iran as hastening the last battle, Armageddon, which will they say will destroy all Jews who don't convert to Christianity. The Jewish organizations, however misguidedly, view war on Iran as protective of Israel.
The leader of the most prominent Christian Zionist group -- and one of the loudest voices for attacking Iran -- Pastor John Hagee (pictured here), is scheduled to give a keynote address to a policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this weekend, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). AIPAC is Israel's lobbyist in Washington.
Hagee heads Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and has gathered a long list of top religious right leaders on its governing bodies. His book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude to War, promotes attacking Iran. Hagee bases this "foreign policy" on cherry-picked biblical verses which he interprets to forecast the end-times battle of Armageddon. Christian Zionists believe that battle will take place in Israel and presage the return of Jesus. Hagee predicts it coming at the end of a war that begins in Iran.
Also citing biblical verses, Hagee argues adamantly that Israel should not trade any land for peace in a settlement with the Palestinians. He embellishes his Middle East warmongering with crude attacks on Muslims and Islam. (Please follow the links below this essay for the details of Hagee's statements.)
Armageddon illustrations are from the website of R. B. Thieme Jr., Bible Ministries of Houston, which says it was "incorporated in 1982 as a nonprofit organization to preserve, perpetuate, and disseminate the doctrinal and theological Bible teachings of R. B. Thieme, Jr. Our purpose is to make available his publications and recordings worldwide without charge or obligation." To see the original, which juxtaposed the battles of Armageddon and the Bulge, please click here.
Christian Zionists believe that Armageddon awaits the immigration of all the world's Jews to Israel. That explains Hagee's demand that Israel keep all the land it occupied in 1967. And it also undoubtedly explains -- though hardly excuses -- his statement in Jerusalem Countdown that the Holocaust resulted from Jews' refusal to move to Israel when bidden by Theodor Herzl:
God then sent the hunters. The hunter is one who pursues his target with force and fear. 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. I stand amazed at the accuracy of God's Word and its relevance for our time.
What we can say about that is that it's an ironic counterpoint to the Satmar Hasidic Jews who blame Jews' embrace of Zionism for the Holocaust, as God's retribution. What Jewish organizations have said about it: absolutely nothing. After repeatedly quoting the Iranian president's denial of the Holocaust, perhaps they have no excoriating left in them.
Hagee, for the record, has also said on National Public Radio's Fresh Air that Jews will drop their refusal to accept Christ when they see "him whom they have pierced."
Zechariah very clearly says that they are not going to believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah until they see him. Zechariah says in the 14th chapter `and when they, the Jewish people, see him whom they have pierced'--and the word pierced there actually refers to his rib and side--`when they see him whom they have pierced, they will weep as one weeps for his only son for a period of one week.
Jewish organizational leaders have said repeatedly that they have Hagee's promise not to proselytize Jews.
Christian Zionists at Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Late last month, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) hosted two Christian Zionist speakers as panelists at its annual meeting: David Brog, executive director of CUFI and Susan Michael, U.S. director for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. (The JCPA's full conference program is here. The panel on "Christians, Zionism, and Israel Advocacy" is on page 5.)
The third panelist for the session was the Rev. John Wimberley, a steering committee member of Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations. According to the JTA, Wimberly said that mainline Christians associate Christian Zionists' support for Israel with the religious right's oppressive doctrines on choice, homosexuality and church-state separation.
The major Jewish organizations do not welcome Jewish criticism of their embrace of Christian Zionists. These Christians are seen as crucial to Israel's tourism industry and its domestic popularity.
One exception is Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In 2005 he urged the big Jewish organizations to take a stand against the Christian right, which, he warned, wants to establish a theocracy in the United States. Foxman's colleagues publicly rejected his call and he largely stopped his public criticism.
Recently Foxman broke his silence with an op-ed in Time, in which he expressed gratitude for the Christian right's support of Israel and continuing disagreement with the religious right's domestic agenda. Foxman also made it clear that the Christian right sees its support for Israel as a quid pro quo for Jewish silence on its domestic agenda.
[T]here are elements in the Evangelical community who would like to impose Christianity by government edict. Some openly call for the Christianization of America, claiming that America has always been a Christian nation and that all institutions should be Christianized. Others, less dramatically, are calling for policies that would amount to religious coercion.
When we challenge those efforts or take a position that many Evangelicals differ with, some play the Israel card. They say, "We are the best friends of Israel, how could you?" Some have even threatened that their support of Israel could be removed if we continue on the issue with which they disagree.
The ADL has called for Congressional hearings on religious coercion in the military. But, while the Christian right continues to advance, there is a great Jewish silence. Where there should be urgent discussion, there is none.
Making conversational space
Some months ago, we at JewsOnFirst decided to try to fill the conversational void. (After all, Christian Zionists are the religious right in foreign policy mode.) We've been pleased that a number of Christians have offered essays and reports that we have posted. And we ourselves have tried to provide a Jewish critique.
Today we are privileged to post Countdown to Armageddon, an essay by Dr. Stan Moody, a Baptist minister and former member of the Maine state legislature.