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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

How Jews See It: Foreign Policy and Christian Zionists

See also the main pages on Foreign Policy and Christian Zionists.

Christian Zionist Leader Hagee in Unprecedented Appearance at Reform Temple

By Robin Podolsky, March 17, 2008. Special to JewsOnFirst.org

On Tuesday, March 11, the Reverend John C. Hagee spoke as a guest at Stephen S. Wise, a Reform Temple in West Los Angeles—the first time, the Reverend said that he had spoken at a Reform Temple in more than 20 years. The event was billed as a ‘dialogue’ between Reverend Hagee and Rabbi David Woznica, and the format was that of a long interview in which Rabbi Woznica asked questions that Reverend Hagee answered. The audience had no opportunity to ask questions of its own.

When asked to identify himself theologically, Reverend Hagee said that he is Evangelical, which means that he “reads scripture” and then simply “does it.” He said that he is not fundamentalist, because he does not wish to be identified with the sort of people who handle snakes. (This was not the only time when Reverend Hagee appeared to cater to a prejudice that he expected his audience to share. At one point, he invited the mixed audience of Jews and evangelicals to commiserate with the difficulties of winning Texas “rednecks” to the task of combating anti-Semitism; he also described a rushed, hurried prayer as being like that of “a Presbyterian late for lunch.”) Continue.


Jewish reaction to John McCain's dealings with John Hagee

Reports on Sen. John McCain's rejection of Hagee's endorsement are here.

Hagee Clarifies Holocaust Comments

Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times' The Caucus Blog, June 13, 2008

Last month he expressed regret for offending Roman Catholics. Now the Rev. John Hagee is extending his regret to Jews.

Mr. Hagee, a televangelist and megachurch pastor who had publicly endorsed Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president and was repudiated last month by Mr. McCain after a Web site posted a troubling sermon by Mr. Hagee about the Holocaust.

In the sermon he gave in 1999, Mr. Hagee said that God allowed the Holocaust to happen in order to get the Jewish people to return to Israel in order to fulfill Biblical prophecy. . The remarks created an uproar, which prompted Mr. McCain finally to cut his ties with Mr. Hagee, after months of escalating outrage about Mr. Hagee’s views on the Roman Catholic church. Continue.

U.S. pastor apologizes to Jews for 'God sent Hitler' comments

Haaretz, June 14, 2008

A prominent American televangelist and outspoken supporter of Israel publicly apologized Friday for remarking that the Holocaust was the work of divine providence, and that "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land."

"In a sermon in 1999, I grappled with the vexing question of why a loving God would allow the evil of the Holocaust to occur," John Hagee, the Texas-based preacher wrote in a letter to Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman. "I know how sensitive the issue of the Holocaust is and should be to the Jewish community and I regret if my Jewish friends felt any pain as a result." Continue.

Anti-Defamation League Welcomes Pastor Hagee's Clarification of Remarks on Jews and the Holocaust

News release, Anti-Defamation League , June 13, 2008

New York, NY, June 13, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Pastor John Hagee's clarification of his past remarks on Jews and the Holocaust.

In an exchange of letters with Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, the Christian leader pledged to "work to express my faith in a way that is sensitive to and respectful of others," and reaffirmed his lifelong commitment to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel, saying that both have been "central to my ministry." Continue.

A Different Kind of Blame Game
Hagee controversy leads to debate more about politics than faith or the Holocaust

Jonathan S. Tobin, The Jewish Exponent, June 12, 2008

Some 10 years ago, a prominent Christian clergyman gave a sermon that was recorded for posterity. In it, Rev. John Hagee, the leader of a group called Christians United for Israel, speculated about the cause of the Holocaust.

His answer was to see it as divine punishment of the Jews.

The unforeseen consequences of his comments were considerable. Continue.

They only appear to be supporters

Colette Avital, Haaretz, June 3, 2008

The Israeli public is so thirsty for love that it becomes very excited by the support it gets from Christian groups; this is the case when the support comes in the form of political support or in the form of millions of dollars in cash that flows generously to various causes in Israel, some of them questionable. Several weeks ago, the evangelical leadership even held a conference in Israel, and some of our most important leaders were on hand.

The support of American evangelicals does not receive the necessary attention in Israel. The outrageous statement by Reverend John Hagee, an evangelist who disseminates his opinions not only in his church in Texas, but also through popular television broadcasts, is an example of extremist views that are being ignored by those who laud the support Israel gets from evangelicals. Continue.

Pastor Hagee and Israel

Letter to the Editor, New York Times, April 10, 2008, signed by Harold Tanner, James Tisch, Mort Zuckerman, Mel Salberg, Lester Pollack, Shoshana Cardin, Ken Bialkin (full text)

To the Editor:

Re “For McCain, Little Talk of a Controversial Endorsement” (news article, April 8), about the Rev. John C. Hagee and the organization he founded, Christians United for Israel, and the reaction to his efforts on behalf of Israel:

Pastor Hagee has been a true friend of Israel for many years. Christians United for Israel is among the strongest supporters of Israel in the United States.

The signers of this letter have been chairmen of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and we appreciate and respect Pastor Hagee’s dedicated efforts and those of Christians United for Israel. Click here.

For McCain, Little Talk of a Controversial Endorsement

By Neela Banerjee, New York Times, April 8, 2008

When Senator John McCain won the endorsement of the Rev. John C. Hagee in February, his campaign hoped it would shore up his conservative credentials among evangelicals and build enthusiasm among a voting bloc that would be critical for him in November.

But since then, Mr. Hagee has been on the defensive over some of his views about Catholics and Jews, and he and Mr. McCain’s campaign have been silent about his endorsement.

The controversial endorsement points to Mr. McCain’s tenuous relationship with conservative evangelicals, a group that President Bush courted with tremendous success and that Republicans have come to view as vital to their prospects in many states. Continue.

VOICES: Hagee, Yoffie and the Jews: Values Count

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, The Atlanta Jewish Times, May 5, 2008

It has been a long time since I have read such a mean-spirited assessment of a Jewish leader's words as those that emanated from Michael Jacobs ("Reject Yoffie, Embrace Christian Zionists," April 18). I was in Cincinnati to hear Rabbi Eric Yoffie's remarks, and I would like to offer a slightly different, more balanced interpretation.

The column failed to mention the context of Rabbi Yoffie's remarks about evangelical Christian support for Israel. The program was a dialogue between Rabbi Yoffie and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who has worked with many Christian Zionist groups for many years. Rabbi Yoffie did not issue a blanket condemnation of all Christian Zionists but rather was particularly critical of Pastor John Hagee's role in this movement. Continue.

VOICES: Reject Yoffie, Embrace Christian Zionists

Michael Jacobs, The Atlanta Jewish Times, April 18, 2008

Rabbi Eric Yoffie doesn't like Pastor John Hagee. That is clear after the president of the Union for Reform Judaism blasted the founder of Christians United for Israel specifically and Christian Zionists generally April 2.

That much of his speech at the Central Conference of American Rabbis convention in Cincinnati was unsurprising. Rabbi Yoffie has long tried to drive a wedge between Christian Zionists and at least Reform Jews, if not all American Jews. At the Reform biennial in Houston in 2005, he spent a portion of his State of the Movement sermon decrying the political ascendancy of the religious right and reminding the world that the left has its religiously motivated activists as well, led by the Reform movement's Religious Action Center. Continue.

November 2007: Debating whether Christian Zionism "is good for the Jews"

Reform Jewish leaders debate Christian Zionism
The perenial question hovers: Is it (Christian Zionism) good for the Jews?

Mark Pelavin and Rabbi Steve Z. Leder, Elu v Elu, Volume 21, Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3; November 5, 12 and 19, 2007

Elu 'v Elu is an on-line debate hosted by the Union for Reform Judiasm. The 21st edition of Elu v' Elu opens by posing this problem: While many Evangelical Christians have been vocal about their love for Israel and their support for the Jewish state, many Reform rabbis and laypersons have hesitated or have opposed an active demonstration and assistance from this group.

The two debaters are Rabbi Steve Z. Leder, the senior rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, and Mark Pelavin, the associate director of the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC. The collegial tone in the conversation is referenced in the name, Elu v' Elu, which recalls the famous phrase legitimating critical discussion in Talmudic times (First century BCE to 7th century CE). The ground rules were that even if an opinion would not become the majority view or accepted practice, it was important to preserve a record of the discussion since both sides (sometimes, many more sides) remain "the words of the Living God."

In this discussion, both debaters articulate their views about Christian Zionism. Mark Pelavin questions Christian Zionists' commitment to peace. The fear is that if the Israelis choose to give up land for peace, the Christian Zionists will work against such an arrangement. Rabbi Steve Leder focuses on the distinction between an alliance and a partnership. He argues that there will be many areas where Christian Zionists and Jews disagree, but the support of the Christian Zionists is vital to Israel, now. Please click here for the first exchange between Pelavin and Leder. And click here for the second exchange. In their third column together, Mark Pelavin and Rabbi Steve Leder respond to readers' questions.

Eilu v' Eilu: These and Those

Mark J. Pelavin and Steven Z. Leder, Eilu v' Eilu: These and Those, November 27, 2007

Mark J. Pelavin, associate director of the Relgious Action Center, and Steven Z. Leder, Wilshire Boulevard Temple's senior rabbi, conclude their four part discussion. In the initial discussion, the question was posed this way: While many Evangelical Christians have been vocal about their love for Israel and their support for the Jewish state, many Reform rabbis and laypersons have hesitated or have opposed an active demonstration and assistance from this group. What are your views?

Pelavin concludes by emphasizing that most evangelicals and most Jews want different things in their separate articulations of the domestic agendas in America. Pelavin also questions whether Evangelicals are really seeking peace in the Middle East. Rabbi Steven Leder calls on American Jews to leave behind their outmoded Holocaust fears of being duped. Rabbi Leder concludes by recommending and then quoting from Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State by Christians United for Israel's executive director, David Brog. Click here.

Two Views on Christian Zionism

Haim Dov Beliak and Jane Hunter and David Brog, The Jewish Week's Machers Blog, November 8, 2007

Christian Zionists such as Pastor John Hagee, president of Christians United for Israel, have become an increasingly vocal pro-Israel force. Here a leading advocate of close cooperation between Jewish and Christian pro-Israel groups – and leading critics of the Christian Zionists – make their cases.

The Jewish Week is initiating a forum on important issues facing the Jewish community. Jane Hunter and Haim Dov Beliak of www.JewOnFirst.org were pleased to be invited to participate in the inaugral of the "Macher" blog. The executive director of Christians United for Israel, David Brog, calls his Christians "good" and claims that Jews who suspect their ideology are expressing an "unseemly prejudice." Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak and Jane Hunter, co-directors of www.JewsOnFirst focus on the "apocalyptic fixation" of Christian Zionists who simply want to use Jews for their beliefs. Continue.

Be Very Wary Of Evangelicals' Support For Israel

Pastor Kenneth W. Rawson, Op-Ed, The Jewish Press, October 24, 2007. The Brooklyn-based Jewish Press is on the extreme right of the Jewish spectrum.

Many right-wing Israelis were disturbed by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s recent ruling banning Jews from participating in the evangelical Zionist Feast of Tabernacles parade in Jerusalem and the conference that followed.

The ruling was triggered by Richard Booker’s planned tour of an army base before Sukkot. Why the concern? Booker is an authority among evangelical Zionists on Israel and end-time prophecy. His book Blow the Trumpet in Zion predicts that up to ten million Jews will be killed (and eternally damned) in an end-time holocaust because two-thirds of the Jewish people living at that time will refuse to accept Jesus during a massive missionary effort targeting them for conversion.

Actually, this is a common concept among evangelicals.

Evangelical churches are adopting and financing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. The lead evangelical church in this arrangement distributes Booker’s book as representing its end-time views on Israel. Also, David Pawson, one of the speakers at this year’s conference that followed the Sukkot parade, is quoted in Family Restoration magazine as urging the conversion of Jews to Jesus now. Continue.

Leader of Reform Judaism opposes cooperation with CUFI

JewsOnFirst Conversation: Rabbis discuss Reform Judaism leader's call to shun CUFI events

by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, May 25, 2007

Rabbi Beliak hosts a recorded conversation reviewing the May 18th Forward op-ed by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism, discouraging cooperation with Christians United for Israel's "Nights to Honor Israel." Participating in the conversation are Rabbi Paula Reimers of Congregation Beth Israel in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Temple Beth El in Madison, Wisconsin. Rabbi Biatch declined to participate in a recent CUFI "Night." We posted his sermon explaining his reasons for not participating. Rabbi Reimers is a member of the JewsOnFirst advisory board. Please use the player or click here to listen to the 17-minute conversation.

Leader of Reform Judiasm discourages cooperation with Christians United for Israel
High-impact op-ed published days before CUFI event in Washington DC

by JewsOnFirst.org, May 21, 2007

In a major development in the debate raging over participating in Christian Zionist "Nights to Honor Israel," the leader of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, has sharply criticized the involvement of local Jewish federations in the events. Yoffie, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism, wrote in the national Jewish weekly Forward that the federations' cooperation with Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is alienating the upcoming generation of Jewish community leaders.

Yoffie's op-ed appeared the Friday before two Conservative movement rabbis took part in a May 20th CUFI "Night to Honor Israel" in the Washington DC area. One of those rabbis told JewsOnFirst that he was participating despite his disagreement with the organizers' politics, because of their support of Israel. Continue.

When We Let John Hagee Speak for Us

Opinion article by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Forward, May 18, 2007

"The American Jewish community must decide: Does it want to connect young Jews to Israel, or does it intend to drive them away?" asks Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in this much discussed op-ed. "These future Jewish leaders are not hostile to Israel, and many have positive memories from Birthright or youth-movement trips, but Israel today is a marginal part of their Jewish consciousness," he writes, continuing:

There is no single explanation for their disaffection, but surely one important reason is the increasingly right-wing and even reactionary tone that some elements of the organized community have adopted in their pronouncements on Israel. American Jews have always been moderate in their views on Israel, and this is especially true for the young.

Of course, the fact that some national and umbrella bodies express hard-line sentiments that do not reflect majority opinion is not new. What is new and deeply disturbing is that local communal bodies are now following their lead. Proof of this trend, as reported in these pages earlier this month, is the willingness of some local Jewish federations to support and endorse events sponsored by Pastor John Hagee and his lobbying group, Christians United for Israel.

Yoffie argues that young Jews are repelled by intolerance such as Hagee expresses toward Muslims and gays. He urges "our federations to conduct broad-based discussions to determine if a consensus really exists on endorsing Christians United for Israel events." Click here.

2007: Zev Chafets book revives debate over Jewish relations with Christian right


Zev Chafetz
A Match Made in Heaven:
American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance

240 Pages, HarperCollins, $24.95

On Fresh Air Chafets shrugs off Christian Right agenda, Israeli attack on Iran

Terry Gross interviews Chafets on Fresh Air, January 18, 2007

In this interview, focused on his book, A Match Made in Heaven, which extolls Christian Zionists, Gross asks Chafets he feels about having an alliance with Christian Zionist leader John Hagee, a pastor who said on Fresh Air last fall that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment of New Orleans for a planned gay parade. Chafets brushed off the question, saying:

Well, look, one thing has nothing to do with the other as far as I'm concerned. You know, in a war, you take the allies that you have. Would I prefer to have other people as allies? Sure? Do I agree with Pastor Hagee on what happened in New Orleans? Absolutely not. Do I care what Pastor Hagee thinks about that subject? No, I don't. My concern is a central concern. There's a world war in which Jews happen to be topic number one or enemy number one for the Islamic world, and I am in favor of anybody whose ideology enables them to understand that the jihad against Christians and Jews waged by al-Qaeda or the doctrines of wiping Israel off the map, which are prevalent in Tehran, or the notion than the world is controlled by a Jewish conspiracy, which is in the Palestinian Hamas charter, that those things are a form of aggressive fascism, and people who understand that are on my side in this particular fight.

Gross pressed him, saying "in the United States, the Christian right has had a lot of power in trying to limit the rights of homosexuals and so, like here in the United States where they do have a lot of power and influence, it's for a lot of people a pretty major thing what he thinks about homosexuality. It's not just, you know, a minor thing, easily overlooked." Chafets replied:

I'm sure that's true, and for those people for whom it's a major thing, it shouldn't be overlooked. During the 1930s, there were--and excuse me for going back to this but it's the relevant example. In the late 1930s, there were people who were opposed to Hitler but who didn't really see that that was the main problem. They were concerned with other issues.

Gross asks Chafets about where a peace agenda fits with the battle of Armageddon (according to Christian Zionist end-timers, the battle is a war in Israel presaging the return of Jesus). Chafets replies:

Well, look, I don't know what people are looking for, and I don't necessarily think that people who supposedly want peace are people who are acting in Israel's best interests all the time. Israel is engaged in a very long war, and it has been ever since it was founded, and you know, all of us want peace.... So the fact that somebody says that they're in favor of peace doesn't impress me very much at this point, and the fact that somebody is more interested in a Biblical scenario doesn't alarm me very much at this point either.

When Gross asked him about the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear sites, Chafets had this to say:

You know, Israel does it as carefully as it can. But I think that it's just not realistic to expect, and I don't like invoking the Holocaust but it's an ever-present thought in the Israeli psyche, and it's unrealistic to expect six million Jews who are now living in the land of Israel to sit around waiting for the next Hitler to exterminate them. I don't think that's going to happen, and I think that if, you know, that if the results of that are sloppy, and they'll be sloppy for the entire world, not just for the Middle East, well, that's going to be a sloppy result.

To read the transcript of the interview (a PDF document), click here.

To listen to the interview on Fresh Air, click here.

Jews and Evangelicals: Support for Israel Isn't Everything

Op-ed by Abraham H. Foxman, Time Magazine (counterpoint to Zev Chafets op-ed, below) January 16, 2007

At a time when Israel is once again under siege — physically from terrorists and Iran's nuclear threat, and psychologically from Islamic extremists and other anti-Israel forces around the world — the pro-Israel perspective of Evangelical Christians is much appreciated. The theological reasons for why they stand with Israel, as a precursor to the Second Coming and Armageddon, take a backseat to current realities. The support comes voluntarily, and we welcome it, as long as it comes without a quid pro quo.

Still, none of this obscures our concerns about certain views among the religious right. Unfortunately, there 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. Continue.

Can Jews and Evangelicals Get Along?

Op-ed by Zev Chafets, Time Magazine (Counterpoint with Abraham Foxman of ADL, above)

In early November 2005, the Prime Minister of Iran stated his intention to wipe Israel off the map. At almost exactly the same time, leaders of the American Jewish community declared war on the Christian Right.

Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, issued the first call to arms. The Jews, he said, faced an organized, sophisticated coalition of enemies. He described as "openly arrogant" the supposed Evangelical goal: "To Christianize us, to save us!" Within a few weeks, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, leader of the liberal Reform Movement, America's largest Jewish denomination, and Rabbi James Rudin of the ultra-establishment American Jewish Committee, reprised Foxman's complaint.

Never before in U.S. history had Jewish leaders shown such bold hostility toward Evangelical Christians, the largest Protestant community in America and, by most measures, the most philo-Semitic and pro-Israel. In normal times, this would be paradoxical. In an age of jihad it was dangerously perverse. Continue.

Onward, Christian Zionists
Do evangelical Christians love the Jews too much?

Calev Ben-David, The Jersalem Post, January 12, 2007. Ben-David is the director of The Israel Project's Jerusalem Media Resource Center.

Last year I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of evangelical supporters of Israel at the annual convention of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) in Washington. While there I bumped into the noted American-Israeli journalist Zev Chafets, my old editor at The Jerusalem Report, who in this crowd of largely southern and Middle-American WASPs looked about as inconspicuous (to paraphrase Raymond Chandler) as a shmear of shmaltz on a slice of Christmas fruitcake.

Zev told me he was there doing research for a book about what some see as the unlikely and potentially problematic pro-Israel convergence between evangelical Christians and the largely liberal American Jewish community.

As it is, I end up making a brief appearance in the finished product: "A consultant for a Washington-based Jewish advocacy outfit called The Israel Project, Ben-David opened the conference with a sophisticated PowerPoint presentation on how to counter Arab arguments and influence the mainstream media. His presentation left the audience cold. The people at the Marriot already supported Israel because the Bible told them to; they didn't understand why they needed additional ammunition." Continue.

Rabbis disagree on cooperation

Rabbis disagree on cooperation with Christian Zionist group
Debate flourishes on rabbis' listserv on whether to participate in events with Pastor John Hagee's Christians United for Israel

Edited by Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst, October 31, 2006

Following the gala weekend held earlier this month by Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in San Antonio, a rabbis' listserv became the forum for discussion about the value of participating in such events. CUFI, founded by San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee, is led by some of the biggest names on the religious right. It has scheduled similar galas in other cities and rabbis in those cities are being pressed to participate. Some rabbis have no problem with the events, while others object. We have posted some of their letters. Please click here.

JewsOnFirst discussion: Dealing with Christian Zionists and their "Nights to Honor Israel"

Recorded conversation led by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, August 18, 2006

Following up on our July 31st report, Christian Zionists lobby for US attack on Iran -- Right-wing Christian Evangelicals, End Times and Israel, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst co-director, moderated a discussion about how rabbis are dealing with Christian Zionist "Nights to Honor Israel."

These "nights" are a project of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), an agglomeration of powerful religious right leaders assembled by San Antonio televangelist John Hagee. Most commonly, local Jewish federations and congregations jointly host the Night to Honor Israel with CUFI.

Participating in the hour-long conversation are: Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio; Rabbi Neal Katz of Congregation Beth El in Tyler, Texas; Rabbi Paula Reimers of Congregation Beth Israel in Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Prof. Yaakov Ariel of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Rabbi Jeffrey Ronald of Beth Israel Congregation in Florence, South Carolina (who was on the call, but unfortunately, the audio on his line did not work). Rabbi Beliak introduces all the participants several minutes after the recording begins.

Their discussion ranged beyond the honor-Israel nights to a discussion of Christian Zionism which touched on dissent in the Jewish community, the religious right and inter-religious relations. To listen to the conversation, please use the player or click here.

When friends aren't really friends: Be wary of evangelical support for Israel

Barry Block, JTA, July 9, 2006

American Jews should be wary about engaging with extreme right-wing Christian supporters of Israel.

As a congregational rabbi, serving in San Antonio — home of the leader of Christians United for Israel, the Rev. John Hagee — I am most wary of these efforts. No, I am not worried that Hagee will try to convert us in the process. The entire American Jewish community may trust the reliable testimony of my Orthodox colleague in San Antonio, Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, who insists that Hagee doesn't utilize his pro-Israel activities to proselytize Jews. Hagee has earned the enmity of some colleagues in the process. Continue

‘Christians are hearing the message’: An interview with David Brog

By Tzvee Zahavy, New Jersey Jewish Standard, August 31, 2006

The Rev. John Hagee wrote the foreword to your book. He assured people last week that there would be no proselytizing or missionizing associated with his organization, Christians United for Israel. Do you believe he is sincere?

David Brog: I do believe that he is sincere. He has believed as a core principle for over 25 years that his work should not lead to any efforts at converting Jews. When he first tried to organize Christians for support of Israel 25 years ago, he met with uniform resistance from Christian pastors on this issue. When he spoke recently to several hundred Christian pastors in San Antonio Texas in an effort to enlist their support for Israel, all of them agreed to refrain from using these activities as a means of converting Jews. Continue.

A gift horse or a Trojan horse?
Pro-Israel preacher goes a-lobbying

Ron Kampeas, JTA, July 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 3 (JTA) — A Texas preacher is coming to Capitol Hill later this month with a present for the Jews: some 2,000 heartland Americans lobbying for Israel.

The question dogging the Jewish community now is what kind of gift horse Pastor John Hagee will be riding: The kind with the mouth better left unchecked, or the Trojan kind, unwrapping relations with the Christian right that many Jews would rather avoid.

Hagee, a televangelist who leads the 19,000 member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, has made his case to Jewish groups nationwide, most recently on a tour of Jewish communities in southern California. Continue

Jews & Evangelicals:
Some of Our Best Friends...

By Rahel Musleah, Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003

It may seem peculiar, but the Christian right has become one of the Jewish state’s most steadfast and outspoken supporters.

A solidarity rally for Israel in Washington, D.C. Sound familiar? This past October, however, it was not the Jewish community that braved rain and the Washington-area sniper to proclaim its support for Israel, but the Evangelical Christian community.

The Christian Coalition of America’s annual convention drew 10,000 to wave Israeli flags, stand for singer Ted Pearce’s rendition of “Zealous for Zion” and watch as “This Is the Day of Elijah” dancers celebrated Christian love for Israel. In attendance alongside Evangelical notables Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay were Ehud Olmert, then the mayor of Jerusalem, and Israeli Knesset member Benny Elon.

As the Christian right’s support for Israel has become increasingly vocal, the Jewish community faces a subsequent dilemma: Is this isolated Christian voice in a pro-Palestinian wilderness a short sighted mirage or a life-giving oasis? “The Jewish community is schizophrenic on how to relate to the Christian right,” says Eugene Korn, director of interfaith affairs for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The reactions run the gamut. Some reject pairing; others have created official alliances with Israel’s “best friends.” Many, like the ADL, fall in the middle—appreciating the stance on Israel, but steering clear of formal coalitions because of conflicts over the domestic agenda, issues of church-state relations, abortion, gay rights and more. Continue.

Jews ponder ties with Christian Zionists

For more on this topic, please see our section on Christian Zionists.

JewsOnFirst discussion: Dealing with Christian Zionists and their "Nights to Honor Israel"

Recorded conversation led by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, August 18, 2006

Following up on our July 31st report, Christian Zionists lobby for US attack on Iran Right-wing Christian Evangelicals, End Times and Israel, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst co-director, moderated a discussion about how rabbis are dealing with Christian Zionist "Nights to Honor Israel."

These "nights" are a project of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), an agglomeration of powerful religious right leaders assembled by San Antonio televangelist John Hagee. Most commonly, local Jewish federations and congregations jointly host the Night to Honor Israel with CUFI.

Participating in the hour-long conversation are: Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio; Rabbi Neal Katz of Congregation Beth El in Tyler, Texas; Rabbi Paula Reimers of Congregation Beth Israel in Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Prof. Yaakov Ariel of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Rabbi Jeffrey Ronald of Beth Israel Congregation in Florence, South Carolina (who was on the call, but unfortunately, the audio on his line did not work). Rabbi Beliak introduces all the participants several minutes after the recording begins.

Their discussion ranged beyond the honor-Israel nights to a discussion of Christian Zionism which touched on dissent in the Jewish community, the religious right and inter-religious relations. To listen to the conversation, please use the player.