Richard Melson

April 2006

Christian Zionism & Israel

Montreal Muslim News Network

Evangelicals Rally Their Flocks Behind Israel

By Bill Berkowitz

Inter Press Service- 6 April 2006

Charismatic televangelist John Hagee thinks that the Rev.
Pat Robertson's suggestion that Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's stroke was payback from God for withdrawing
from Gaza was "insensitive and unnecessary." But he
nevertheless appears to share Robertson's concern that
Israel may be giving up too much land to the Palestinians.

To prevent the George W. Bush administration from
pressuring the Israelis into turning over even more land,
Hagee, the pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church and
the head of a multimillion-dollar evangelical enterprise,
recently brought together 400 Christian evangelical
leaders - representing as many as 30 million Christians -
for an invitation-only "Summit on Israel."

The result was the launch of a new pro-Israel lobbying
group called Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

By 2002, a number of veteran Christian conservative
evangelical leaders and Republican Party power brokers had
joined forces with conservative Jewish leaders to launch
several pro-Israel organizations. But the history of
Jewish-evangelical involvement goes back several decades.

According to Rabbi James Rudin, writing in his recently
published book, The Baptizing of America: The Religious
Right's Plans for the Rest of U.S., "the first [modern]
evangelical-Jewish meeting" took place in New York in

A bevy of issues including "the meaning of Messiah in both
traditions, Jesus the Jew, biblical theology, and the
meaning of modern Israel and Jerusalem for Christian
conservatives and Jews" were discussed.

Rudin points out that "the evangelical commitment to
Israel creates some ... ambivalence" in the Jewish
community, since that "commitment" is built on the
biblical belief that "without an Israel, an ingathering of
Jewish exiles, [the] major event in Christian eschatology
[the Second coming of Jesus to Jerusalem] cannot take

"That is why some evangelicals are dismayed at any Israeli
withdrawal or disengagement from any area of the biblical
'Holy Land.' That is also why the strong Christian
conservative support of Israel is not linked to Middle
East realpolitik or America's growing thirst for Arab
oil," Rudin says.

Although not as well known on the national political scene
as some of his evangelical brethren, Hagee has built an
impressive evangelical empire and developed strong
political ties to the Republican Party.

Since his 1978 "conversion" to Zionism, he has emphasized
establishing and maintaining good relations with Israeli
leaders and conservative sectors of the U.S. Jewish
community. Over the years, he has met with Israeli heads
of state and carved out a special relationship with former
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud
Party performed dismally in the recent elections in

"Think of CUFI as a Christian version of American Israel
Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]," the powerful pro-Israel
lobby, Hagee told The Jerusalem Post in an interview a few
days before his February summit. "We need to be able to
respond instantly to Washington with our concerns about
Israel. We must join forces to speak as one group and move
as one body to [respond to] the crisis Israel will be
facing in the near future."

While Hagee wouldn't spell out which particular crisis he
was concerned with, he did tell the Israeli newspaper that
"'the Bible issue', namely what he considers to be the
mistaken policy of trading parts of the biblical Land of
Israel for peace," was at the top of CUFI's list.

"Every state in the Union, every congressional district"
will be accounted for, Hagee added.

A post-meeting report at the John Hagee Ministries Web
site said that Christians United for Israel had put
together a national board consisting of Hagee as national
chairman; fundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell; Gary
Bauer, president of American Values; and Pastor George
Morrison of Arvada, Colorado.

Christians United for Israel intends to establish a
50-state rapid-response network that aims to reach every
senator and congressman in the U.S. The organization is
also concerned with "protecting marriage, family, and
faith," Ha'aretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported.

Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg of San Antonio's Congregation
Rodfei Sholom attended the meeting and called it a
historic gathering. Scheinberg told the San Antonio
Express-News, "It's the first nationwide effort I know of
to unify evangelical leaders in support of Israel. These
leaders who participated speak for millions of people.
This organization has phenomenal potential in supporting,
defending and advocating for Israel."

Pastor Hagee and Rabbi Scheinberg go way back. In a story
entitled "Our Jewish Roots" published in JHMagazine
[.pdf], Hagee tells of a June 1978 visit to Israel where
he "went ... as a tourist and came home a Zionist." When he
returned home he decided to organize "A Night to Honor
Israel." According to Hagee's account, Rabbi Scheinberg
"pressed the Jewish Community into taking a chance and
extending its hand in mutual friendship."

The rabbi, pictured with Hagee in several photographs in
JHMagazine, delivered the benediction at the first "A
Night to Honor Israel" event in 1981, and has been a
regular participant ever since.

Members of CUFI intend to meet with "legislators in
Washington for two days in July to tell them about the
organization and its platform, and express their support
for Israel," according to Ha'aretz. In addition, the "A
Night to Honor Israel" event will be expanded and held in
several cities simultaneously.

CUFI's Web site maintains that the group was founded "to
provide a national organization through which every
pro-Israel organization and ministry in America can speak
and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters
related to Biblical issues."

"We see Christians in the United States as true friends
and important supporters on the basis of shared values,
and we welcome their efforts to strengthen the ties
between Israel and the U.S.," said Israeli Ambassador to
the United States Danny Ayalon.

In addition to running San Antonio's well-attended
Cornerstone Church, Hagee heads up the multimillion-dollar
evangelism enterprise called Global Evangelism Television.
Over four decades, members of his ministry have donated
millions to carry out his mission.

Global Evangelism Television has become a massive
moneymaking family enterprise which brings in millions of
dollars year after year by selling inspirational books,
tapes, and the promise of prosperity.

Hagee is the author of a number of books including Attack
on America - New York, Jerusalem, and the Role of
Terrorism in the Last Days and The Beginning of the End -
The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming
Antichrist. His latest nonfiction book is called Jerusalem
Countdown - A Warning to the World, which landed on
bestseller lists.

The new book posits that "biblical prophecy is playing
itself out daily in the Middle East," Agape Press, a
Christian-based news service, reported. "Hagee says Iran's
new president, coupled with ... [the] victory by
terrorist-backed Hamas in the Palestinian elections, paves
the way for an impending war in the region."

In addition to spearheading the launch of Christians
United for Israel, and appearing on a panel at the recent
National Religious Broadcasters convention, Hagee has
aligned himself with a number of Christian Right
evangelicals that condemned the Evangelical Climate
Initiative, signed by 86 evangelical leaders acknowledging
the seriousness of global warming and pledging to press
for legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

(Inter Press Service)
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Evangelicals Rally Their Flocks Behind Israel

(Hope to eventually convert Jews to Christianity)

Montreal Muslim News

Thursday, April 6, 2006