Sara Posner at American Prospect has written one of the best and only media critiques (except mine) of John Hagee’s stem-winding speech to the AIPAC national conference. Here’s the most important passage:
Whether Hagee is good for Israel is beside the point. The real problem is that he represents a catastrophe for the United States and its standing in the world — not because he might love the Jews too much, or might in fact secretly hate them, but because he is leading a growing political movement completely lacking in a substantive understanding of world affairs. At a time when the Middle East faces seemingly intractable conflicts with dire geopolitical consequences, the notion that Hagee — whose status is only elevated by invitations like AIPAC’s — is leading a political movement based on nothing more than a supposedly literal reading of his Bible only reinforces the view that the United States is being led by messianic forces at odds with world peace and stability. Young Americans should have a deeper understanding of Middle East politics in order to fully participate in civic discourse as American troops are fighting a seemingly unending war. But Hagee worries not about troop deployments, instead focusing on teaching the Bible in public schools. While religious fundamentalism is causing untold bloodshed around the world, Hagee frets about secularists who are “destroying America.”
When he does speak to actual Middle East politics, it’s only to encourage the further destabilization of the region. Hagee has been agitating for a war with Iran for well over a year now, certainly not a single-handed effort on his part, nor one for which he would deserve sole blame should it happen. But if it does happen (and some think it already has begun), Hagee most certainly should be blamed for something else: convincing his minions that war is not only palatable, but required by God.
Hagee’s speech, laced with charged comparisons of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to men like Pharaoh, Haman, and Hilter, as well as countless Churchillian references, brought the crowd to its feet. “He’s A-OK,” said one AIPAC delegate who had never heard of Hagee before, adding that he wanted to get one of Hagee’s DVDs for his grandchildren to watch. “I love him,” enthused another delegate, a woman who had already learned of CUFI through conservative talk radio and had donated money to the cause. “Who else cares about Israel?”
The notion that Israel or AIPAC is so desperate for allies that it has no choice in the ones it embraces is so noxious, so amoral as to be almost beyond belief. Can anyone doubt that AIPAC is adrift from any sort of moral moorings. Are all means justified in pursuing its ends? Is Israel the sole raison d’etre for the Jewish people?
Yes,to answer a question with a question(in true Jewish form) What else is there that makes a a Jew,a Jew,but being a decendant of ISRAEL? Otherwise,just be an American,forget about being a Jew & convert to secular humanism.
Problem solved,& “Poof,”you don’t have to think about Israel anymore.
Bruce Wilson says
Richard – I suspect Sarah Posner has an underlying agenda, but to address simply what she has written :
“Whether Hagee is good for Israel is beside the point. The real problem is that he represents a catastrophe for the United States and its standing in the world — not because he might love the Jews too much, or might in fact secretly hate them, but because he is leading a growing political movement completely lacking in a substantive understanding of world affairs…..
When he does speak to actual Middle East politics, it’s only to encourage the further destabilization of the region.”
I actually disagree with this take – John Hagee and his fellow Christian Zionist leaders have all the understanding of world affairs necessary for their principal project, which is catastrophic war in the Middle East. Hagee and his fellows have decades of experience visiting the Middle East, and Hagee meets regularly with American and Israeli leaders and has extended his reach now by consulting with China’s ambassador to the United States.
Sarah Posner’s take is suitable for a venue such as, perhaps, the New York Times op-ed section where a bald presentation of Hagee’s project would almost certainly not be allowed into print.
But, the very frame that presumes CUFI’s goodwill must be smashed – Hagee and CUFI do not in the end wish Israel well. They want to destroy Israel as it now exists, a fact that can be derived from statements Hagee and his fellows make repeatedly.
Dan Sniderman says
We Jews need only to look at our long history. Over the past four thousand years – how many times have we heard so-called “Prophets’ claim that the events described in the biblical prophecies were contemporary? And what were the consequences for the Jews?
How foolish is it to beleive that the events we are seeing today are any more likely to fortell the coming of the Messiah as it was in 1000 CE or in the time of Jesus Christ?
This is the most utter foolishness. To look at this man as anything but the most dangerous type of person requires one to completely close their eyes and forget who we are and where we came from. It is – ultimately – to reject what it is to be a Jew…
Why are you so suspicious of Christians and their motives? Your paranoia borders on xenophobia.
If an imam gave a speech at AIPAC in support of Israel, I’m sure your reaction would be different.
Even Abe Foxman of the ADL says, “American Jews should not be apologetic or defensive about cultivating Evangelical support for Israel. The need for support by an Israel under siege is great. Fortunately, Evangelical support is overwhelming, consistent, and unconditional. And the fears that such support will undermine our impact on other concerns that American Jews have are overblown, since we will continue, to articulate in forceful ways our significant disagreements on social issues.”
Richard Silverstein says
You sound like someone who either isn’t Jewish or knows very little about Jewish identity. If either is true then you’re a bit lacking in credibility in speaking on this subject. Since Jews were exiled from ancient Israel, the notion of Israel and returning to it have been very important aspects of our religion & identity. However, Jews deliberate set up institutions & an entire structured identity to REPLACE the role that Israel had played in Jewish life now that it no longer existed for them as a concrete physical space.
Any version of Judaism that posits Israel as THE SOLE locus of Jewish identity is merely establishing another form of idol worship. Judaism is about Israel, but not ONLY about Israel. There is much more to our religion that Israel. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that is bastardizing our religion & doing Jews & Israel a disservice.
Richard Silverstein says
I am NOT suspicious of “Chrisitians.” But I am suspicious of the Christian evangelical right.
But there ARE those who claim to be Muslim & embrace Israel and Zionism. I laugh their views out of the box they’re so ludicrous. I’ve written about some of them here.
Why would you think Abe Foxman is a credible speaker on Christian Zionism? His views are tainted & self-interested on the subject & he is little better than an apologist for them.
“Unconditional” support is something that no nation needs. Every nation needs support that is conditioned on its observance of moral values and the norms of international law. Hagee’s “overwhelming, unconditional” support of Israel is precisely what disturbs me most about his views.
“Every nation needs support that is conditioned on its observance of moral values and the norms of international law.”
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Granted that U.N. GA resolutions are regarded as non-binding, is this really the institution that you want dictating international norms and ‘morality’? I ask this question with the shred of hope that you yourself do not ascribe to that definition, because at least according to the google cache version of masada2000, you consider yourself a Zionist.
This is the same institution that fell in love with Yasser Arafat the previous year and made him and the PLO the sole representative of the Palestinian people- three years after the Munich Olympics massacre. How many billions of aid dollars did Arafat go on to steal? How many more terrorist attacks was the PLO responsible for? Where was the international outcry over PLO immorality and its violation of international law?
Let’s say you agree that U.N. General Assembly Resolutions are pertinent to ‘international law’. Then certainly you are aware of the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the U.N. General Assembly on 9 December 1948.
Article 3 of this resolution, subsection (c) stipulates that “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide” are punishable under international law.
For a future blog entry, why don’t you discuss why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not arrested and put on trial? I can answer that; because you’re too wrapped up in chastising Pastor Hagee for saying all the things that most Jews are afraid to say.
Query to Michael. You said.
Do you seriously think this would have passed were it not for the settlements? I don’t. I don’t want any insitution dictating the norms of morality, but Bush is even more heinous than the UN in my view.
Maybe it is because there is no evidence of his involvement with the munich incident, but just aside from that Israel’s leaders also had a checkered past. Many were involved with the Stern Gangs and Irgun, and are implicated in the bombing the King David Hotel among other things.
This is also disputed:. Many say that the translation of him calling for the destruction of Israel was distorted. Also if he really did call for such a thing why hasn’t Israel pressed this case to the UN? Perhaps it is more interested in pr are points for its intransigence? I also don’t see how any Jew could describe a man who believes Jews brought the holocaust on themselves as “poor Hagee!”
Richard Silverstein says
While there is universal condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s views on Israel (which I agree with), there is no such universal consensus that what he said constitues genocide. You can’t charge an international leader with genocide merely because a small subset of human beings believe someone is guilty of it. You’ll have to do yr best to persuade enough people of yr views. Many reputable Iran analysts do not believe that what he says is genocide.
And for the record, I am on record in this blog as favoring international war crimes charges against Israeli generals AND Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing civilians.
We’ll just take this one falsehood at a time.
“Do you seriously think this would have passed were it not for the settlements?”
Take a look at the 25 countries who sponsored it: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, EGYPT, Guinea, IRAQ, JORDAN, Kuwait, LEBANON, Libyan Arab Republic, Mauritania, Morocco, North Yemen, Oman, Qatar, SAUDI ARABIA, Somalia, South Yemen, Sudan, SYRIA Arab Republic, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.
In bold are all the states that attacked Israel in 1948, before there were any ‘settlements’. Are you saying the 47 other nations who voted for it did so because they were somehow negatively affected by Israel’s policy in the territories?
“Maybe it is because there is no evidence of his involvement with the munich incident”.
Don’t minimize the loss of life by calling it an ‘incident’. There is evidence of PLO involvement in the Munich Massacre. A U.S. State Department document dated March 13, 1973 is a primary source indicating a link between Black September Organization and Fatah, the PLO faction controlled by Arafat. Then you go on to mention the involvement of Israeli leaders in militancy in the pre-state period and specifically the bombing of the King David Hotel. Your attempt to draw a moral equivalency between the two is laughable but that can be the subject of another post. At the end of the day, Palestinian terrorism is Palestinian terrorism and the UN condones it.
“Many say that the translation of him calling for the destruction of Israel was distorted”
If you want to play semantic word games while he denies the Holocaust, promises another one, and builds nuclear weapons to initiate one, then feel free. You strike me as the same person who would read Mein Kampf and conclude that Hitler was just misunderstood.
“Also if he really did call for such a thing why hasn’t Israel pressed this case to the UN?” I’m surprised Israel hasn’t gone to the UN. After all, Israel entrusted the U.N. to protect the northern border when they left Lebanon in 2000. We all saw how that worked out.
“I also don’t see how any Jew could describe a man who believes Jews brought the holocaust on themselves”
I have listened to many Hagee speeches and have even heard him APOLOGIZE on behalf of the Roman Church and America’s evangelicals for not doing enough to stop Hitler. He also lamented the fact that the Nazis themselves were baptized Christians, implying that classical Christian persecution of Jews was also at work. Many Christians would not take this position, instead choosing to distance their religion from that of the Nazis but Hagee did not. He made no excuses.
The Forward had what I thought was a good editorial on Cheney’s appearance at Aipac that overlapped a bit with what’s under discussion with regard to Hagee. They wrote: “Cheney came to tear out that heart. We, the Republicans, are Israel’s true friends, he said. The Democrats, elected in a wave of popular revulsion at the war in Iraq, are Israel’s enemies. You, the representatives of the Jewish community, must choose between Israel and everything else you believe in.” I agree – we don’t have to choose between support for Israel and siding with dangerous wackos on the Christian right. And it is in part because they’re asking us to make that choice that they are, in fact, dangerous wackos.
Can you provide a link for that, Melinda?
Richard Silverstein says
Which only points out all the more clearly how two-faced Hagee is. Or perhaps you can explain to us how he both blames Jewish “sinners” for bringing the Holocaust on their own people and apologizes on behalf of Christianity not doing enough to stop it. Or do YOU perhaps believe that some Jews brought the Holocaust on the rest of us??
Richard Silverstein says
Cuba and Guinea attacked Israel in 1948? How did this happen?
What on earth are you talking about? They are not in bold on my screen.