Pastor John Hagee is the Father Coughlin of Christian evangelical preachers. He may not be an out and out anti-Semite like Father Coughlin, who after all hated ALL Jews while Hagee only hates liberal Jews–but with friends like Hagee, believe me, Jews need no enemies. How else to describe a man who predicts a new Holocaust against the Jews which will lead to the Second Coming (see below)?
Much has been written about the growing alliance between Israel, her hardline Jewish supporters, and Christian Zionists. I’ve written here about Rabbis Yechiel Eckstein and Daniel Lapin and their “mission” to the evangelical community. But nowhere has the danger that Christian Zionism poses for Israel been focussed more clearly than in Hagee’s speech to the AIPAC’s national policy conference. The group’s national leadership made yet another terrible error in judgment in inviting him. Oh he gave a stem-winding pro-Israel speech, all right. Full of fire and brimstone toward the “terrorist” enemies of the Israel. Full of red meat for the 6,000 hardline pro-Israel delegates. It earned him multiple standing ovations.
I’ve transcribed some of the more disturbing portions of the speech (see video). We’ll follow that with other deeply troubling passages which Hagee wrote or spoke in other settings which present his views in a far more alarming light:
Ladies and gentlemen of AIPAC, it’s a new day in America. The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the State of Israel!
As you know, the state of Iran poses a nuclear threat to the State of Israel that promises nothing less than a nuclear Holocaust. I have been saying on national television: “It is 1938, Iran is Germany and Ahmedinejad is the new Hitler.” Ladies and gentlemen, we must stop Iran’s nuclear threat and stop it now and stand boldly in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
The only way to win a nuclear war is to make certain it never starts. Iran’s president has not limited his maniacal threats to Israel. He has also asked his fellow Iranians to imagine a world without America. This is a clear threat to destroy the United States of America. I have something to say to the president of Iran: “Mr Ahmedinejad, don’t threaten America! Do not threaten Israel by saying ‘they will pass away in a sudden storm’…”
Mr. Ahmedinejad, threats against Israel have a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may well be talking about your own demise when you talk about passing away in a sudden storm. But you are not talking about Israel’s future…
Israel was miraculously born May 15, 1948. Israel lives. Shout it from the housetops: Israel lives. Let every Islamic terrorist group hear it: Israel lives. Let every tin horn dictator in the Middle East hear it: Israel lives. Let it be heard in the halls of the UN: Israel lives. Let it echo down the marble halls of the presidential palace in Iran: Israel lives. Let it ? in the terrorist camps of Osama bin Laden: Israel lives…
We cannot change the [Jewish suffering of the] past. But together we can shape the future. Think of our future together. 50 million evangelicals joining in common cause with 5 million Jewish people in America on behalf of Israel is a match made in heaven.
Let the word go forth from Washington, D.C. tonight there is a new beginning in America between Christians and Jews…We have organized Christians United for Israel. We have 13 regional directors. We have 40 state directors. We have 80 city directors and they’re growing. We’re organizing Congressional district by Congressional district so that as a body we can stand up and speak up for Israel every year in Washington, D.C. And Congress will know that the matter of Israel is no longer just a Jewish issue. It is a Christian-Jewish issue from this day forward.
In closing, I believe 207 [sic] is a year of destiny. America and Israel are at war with a common enemy. It is a war of good versus evil. It is a war of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness versus the culture of death…
Ladies and gentlemen, as Christians and Jews our aim is victory. Victory for Israel. Victory in our time. May God bless Israel. May God bless America. And God bless you.
If this speech isn’t bad enough, we should flesh out some of what he alludes to above with earlier quotations, in which he makes those views even more shockingly clear. Here’s what Hagee has in mind for Iran according to the Talk2Action website which monitors the Christian Right:
…On July 19, 2006, at a CUFI’s Washington DC inaugural event, with GOP Party head Ken Mehlman and US GOP Senators Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Kay Bailey-Hutchinson and John Cronyn in attendance (President George W. Bush sent recorded greetings to the event ) , Pastor John Hagee declared:
“The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation […] and [the] Second Coming of Christ.”
Hagee subsequently wrote, in a Charisma Magazine editorial entitled “The Coming Holy War”, that the preemptive attack he advocates should be carried out with nuclear weapons…
Hagee called the 2006 summer Israeli bombing and invasion of Southern Lebanon a “miracle of God”…
Oh, and in case you were wondering–we Jews were responsible for bringing the Holocaust upon ourselves. Not ALL Jews of course. Only the godless, liberal Jews. The ones who build idols and worshiped other gods than the One True God:
“It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day….
How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for His chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings He had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come…. it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people.” ( “Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude To War”, paperback edition, pages 92 and 93 )
The only way Hagee’s messiah can come according to his theological understanding is if all Jews return to the Promised Land. And in some perverse way, the Holocaust started the ball rolling on that. God used both the early Zionists AND Nazis (!) to pursue his divine plan for returning all the Jews to their homeland:
The Prophet Jeremiah… paints a vivid picture of the human agents God intended to use to bring the Jewish people back to Israel:
‘But now I will send for many fisherman’, declares the Lord’, ‘and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.’
…First, God sent the fisherman to Israel. These were the Zionists, men like Theodore Herzl who called for the Jews of Europe and the World to come to Palestine and establish the Jewish state. The Jews were encouraged to escape while there was still time….
[Then] God 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 drive the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have-Israel…. I am stricken with awe and wonder at his boundless love for Israel and the Jewish people…( “Jerusalem Countdown”, paperback edition, pages 132 and 133 )
With boundless love like that who needs who needs real enemies?
And if you’re a Jew who detests Hagee’s views, well then, you probably would’ve brought on the Holocaust had you lived a few generations earlier; and you’re definitely “poisoned”:
In a July 26, 2006 interview with the San Antonio Times, Hagee [said]:
“I think if I could put a dividing line, the Orthodox and Conservatives who have a Torah appreciation give us wholehearted support. The rest who are not driven by the Word of God have a liberal agenda.
And the liberal agenda is they are pro-abortion. They’re pro-homosexual. They’re pro-gay marriage — they want men to marry men and women to marry women — and their difference with me is not really what I’m doing with Israel. Their hostility to me is poisoned by their liberalism.”
Here’s some more of Hagee’s apocalyptic interpretation of current Mideast developments. It’ll make your hair stand on end:
Russia with Arab allies will plot and plan Israel’s destruction. That’s happening right now. It has been happening for 10 years. Iran’s nuclear weapons have been produced with Russian scientists. The Islamic Arabs are using the Roadmap to Peace to get all of the land of Israel they can get. And when Israel finally says, `Enough!’ you’re going to see the beginning of the implementation of Ezekiel’s war in 38:39. The critical point is the church is raptured before this war begins. I am telling you that makes this message one of the most thrilling prophetic messages you’ve ever heard in your life. You could get raptured out of this building before I get through finished preaching. We are that close to the coming of the Son of Man.–September 18, 2006 interview in WHYY’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross
You will undoubtedly be happy to know that a small remnant will survive “Ezechiel’s war.” And they’ll be Jewish too. But not Jews as you and I would know them. No, they’ll be Jews who accept the teaching of that great rabbi, Jesus Christ:
“Who is this remnant [those who will survive] ?
First, it’s obvious that all of that remnant is Jewish…..
God promises that by his sovereign grace a “remnant” would be saved by the grace of God, a group of survivors who have the opportunity to receive Messiah, who is a rabbi known to the world as Jesus Christ.” (Jerusalem Countdown, paperback edition, pages 192 and 194)
Unfortunately, most of the rest of us Jews will be killed off in that epic battle. One of Hagee’s CUFI board members describes the coming Jewish “Holocaust”:
As recounted by Terje Langeland, reporting for the Colorado Springs Independent in 2003, one of Pastor John Hagee’s CUFI board members, George Morrison, expresses his sense of how Israeli and Israeli Jews will fare in the apocalyptic scenario Hagee and others long for:
…”The European Union, he says, might be the alliance of nations that according to prophecy will join the Arabs to wage war against Israel during the final days.
“Great wars will begin to take place” Morrison says in a matter-of-fact voice. “Those wars are going to involve nukes.”
The extent of the destruction will prompt Jesus to return in order to stop it, Morrison believes. Unfortunately, he says, many Jews will be killed.
“It’s another Holocaust, if you will” Morrison says. “
Finally, this portion of the Talk2Action critique of Hagee’s modus operandi makes clear that Hagee is one smooth operator who has duped AIPAC. He says one message to Jews and quite another to his evangelical friends:
When talking to many Jews and Israelis, Hagee seems stress the need to protect Israel and promises his group’s unwavering support for what Hagee calls God’s historic covenant with Jews to whom, Hagee believes, God gave the historical lands of Israel for perpetuity.
When talking to the Christian Zionists of CUFI, however, Hagee speaks of other matters : the need for an apocalyptic war in the Mideast that will trigger the “Rapture” of fundamentalist Christians into Heaven but also kill, Hagee believes, most Jews now living. That “necessary” war (necessary to trigger the “Rapture”: of Christians, that is ) may even lead, Hagee speculates in “Jerusalem Countdown”, to massive nuclear strikes that will destroy America’s East and West coasts and kill hundreds of millions and which would amount to, Hagee feels, divine punishment visited, via ICBM, on liberal Americans for insufficient support for the sort of far right, even fringe, Israeli politics Hagee promotes.
So, one must ask, when John Hagee tells us of the blessed event of his rapture-seeking evangelicals joining together with AIPAC and its supporters to create a Christian-Jewish uber-lobby for Israel that will lead to a Holocaust that will kill millions of Jews–is this the kind of support that Israel can afford??
Thanks to Muzzlewatch for providing the initial intellectual provocation for this post.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.