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?