Denver Jews Force Federation to Withdraw Invitation to Rev. John Hagee

Three Denver leaders discuss the unprecedented rebuff to the Christian Zionist leader

by Haim Dov Beliak,, December 23, 2010

In an unprecedented response to an outcry from local Jews, the Denver Allied Jewish Federation "disinvited" Pastor John Hagee, who was to have been the keynote speaker at its annual Men's Event November 21st. "What we underestimated was how controversial and hurtful some of what [Hagee's] said would be perceived by certain members of our community," Doug Seserman, CEO of the federation, told the Intermountain Jewish News. Hagee has made bigoted statements about gays, Muslims and Catholics.

JewsOnFirst learned from individuals in the community that the federation's substitution of David Brog (pictured above), the executive director of Hagee's organization, Christians United for Israel, mollified some -- but hardly all -- of those who objected to Hagee.

We have posted audio recordings of three of our conversations with Jewish leaders who opposed the Hagee invitation. Each discusses different aspects of the events in Denver and, more broadly, the implications of Rev. Hagee's acceptance by American Jewish organizations.

Melodye Feldman
Melodye Feldman is the founder and executive director of the internationally known grass-roots organization Seeking Common Ground and a member of the international board of the New Israel Fund. In our conversation she emphasizes the harmful impact of Pastor Hagee's funding of anti-democratic organizations in Israel, including one group that put up billboards demonizing the New Israel Fund. Feldman also notes that donations from Christians United for Israel have silenced Jewish protests over missionary activity in Israel and the US. Use the player below to listen to our conversation.

JewsOnFirst conversation with Melodye Feldman

Rabbi Brian Field
Rabbi Field works for Judaism Your Way, a Denver-based outreach organization with a dynamic and expansive vision of Judaism and Jewishness. Thus he speaks of being mindful of the contradiction between Christian Zionist leader John Hagee's fundamentalist Christianity and his own organization's efforts to build bridges with Muslims, gays, Christians and fellow Jews. Field also discusses Hagee's lack of respect for Rabbinic Judaism. Use the player below to listen to our conversation.

JewsOnFirst conversation with Rabbi Brian Field

Rob Prince
Rob Prince is a lecturer at Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver where he teaches undergraduates in the International Studies Program, mostly courses on the global political economy. In addition, he is an adjunct instructor at the Iliff School of Theology of the University of Denver and operates the blog Colorado Progressive Jewish News. Prince questions the Jewish Federation's alliance with Pastor John Hagee, given Hagee's belligerent foreign policy. And he cautions that Jews cannot ignore Hagee and his fellow fundamentalist Christians because of their domestic, theocratic agenda. Use the player below to listen to our conversation.

JewsOnFirst conversation with Rob Prince

Update: On December 28th, Rob Prince posted a commentary on the three interviews, which we hope you will read here.

TOPIC: Christian Zionists