James Besser has a good piece in Jewish Week about Christians United for Israel, the uber-Zionist evangelical group founded by John Hagee, darling of AIPAC’s last national policy conference. What struck me about CUFI is that it threatens to become Israel’s Golem. Rabbi Yehuda Loew created the creature to protect Prague’s Jews from attack by a Christian mob. After routing the anti-Semites and saving the Jews, the Golem eventually runs amok and threatens the safety of the very people he was created to protect. Rabbi Loew then has to destroy the creature by changing the letters on his forehead from emet to met (dead).
Here is what I found especially disturbing about CUFI’s current position regarding Israeli policy:
Pastor John Hagee, the fiery megachurch pastor and CUFI founder…said his group will support Israeli policy “as long as it does not violate biblical principles.”
Those who read this blog will know that I take strong issue with much of the work AIPAC does. But at least that group makes a claim (not always honored in the breach) that its activities adhere generally to Israeli government policy. That at least gives some form of accountability and if AIPAC goes over the top, as it often does, one can point out how its actions diverge from or exceed Israeli policy. The peculiar problem with CUFI is that it is not accountable to the Israeli government or AIPAC which created the monster. Christian Zionists are only accountable to divine guidance defined as they see fit.
This is why it’s one thing to engage in political give and take regarding resolving the Israel Palestine conflict. But once you introduce God into the debate, there is no longer any rational underpinning or pragmatic basis to which one can appeal. CUFI is a monster of AIPAC’s making. It will have to deal with the headache of its very own Golem running amok within the American political scene.
One only has to read today’s headlines in which Ehud Olmert warned his fellow Israelis that they would have to leave “many” settlements as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Do AIPAC and Olmert think CUFI is going to go peacefully as Israel forces these settlers to evacuate? No, of course the Christian Zionist wingnuts are going to make common cause with the radical settlers and try to run amok within the halls of Congress. I can also imagine Christian zealots making common cause with the settlers and joining them on rooftops to battle with Israeli police as settler youth did during the Gaza withdrawal. That could be some heady brew of Christian-Jewish extremism.
Those of you who prefer to view this through the prism of U.S. Mideast policy should think about the mujahadeen forces the CIA created, funded and armed in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invaders. Remember that these same forces then turned on us and helped nurture the Taliban and the current resistance to our presence there. Not to mention those like Osama bin Laden who have become world-wide jihadists attempting to overthrow the international order. CUFI threatens to become Israel’s very own mujahadeen.
Hat tip to Middle East Bulletin, a great media resource for Israeli-Palestinian peace reporting.
liberal white boy says
The joke may some day be on AIPAC. Some (though not all) of these evangelical southern white folk are just a hop, skip and a lobotomy away from their Klansmen forefathers, and have about the same amount of charm. Except when stuff hits the fan though, this lobotomy may be reversible. I wouldn’t want these guys watching my back. Even when you are talking more or less about your own peeps, crazy is crazy.
The Golem says
I resemble that remark!!!
Seriously I agree with you Richard as well as Liberal White Boy. On this night of Tisha b’Av I feel especially that in some way I am responsible for what AIPAC does and even what the Settlers do. Responsible, not guilty of.
I am not willing to take upon myself the same responsibility for a bunch of crazy Xtian extremists who would gladly have me stoned to death now as a gay man, rather than wait until the Jews do something they disapprove of.
Not to get all da’ati on everybody, but I see the message of Tisha b’Av as one of caring for each other and behaving in a menschlich way with our neighbors, whether that’s the poor guy next door who can’t feed his family or the Palestiians who have many just claims that Israeli governments try to ignore.
If you don’t mind my asking, Richard, is it really correct to describe CUFI as “uber-Zionist”? Do you really think these people care about a homeland for the Jews? Or do they just fantasize about bringing on the “Rapture” as soon as possible?
Relatedly, it alsays deeply disturbs me to see the media describe people like Pat Robertson and James Dobson as “pro-Israel”. Does anyone really think that Robertson and his ilk care about anyone in Israel to the left of the Likud?
One more question while I’m on this topic: have you ever discussed the “Left Behind” novels on this blog? I myself haven’t read them, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t take much reading between the lines to discern a real anti-Semitism in them.
Richard Silverstein says
Andy: I think it’s both. I think they believe in a homeland for the Jews but only in the sense that this will bring the Rapture that much closer. And of course in their scheme of things we’re all going to either die or convert to Christianity in the long run. That’s why I argue that these people should be considered poison as far as being allies of Israel.
You make a good pt. about the term “pro-Israel,” which has always troubled me when taken in a literal sense since these people aren’t actually espousing views that will do any long term good for Israel. And as you say, they are only “pro” a certain narrow extreme political viewpoint within the Israeli political spectrum.
I’ve never heard of those novels. If you have a link I’ll take a closer look.
I’m quite surprised you haven’t heard of the “Left Behind” books – they’re supposed to be bestsellers. Here is the Wikipedia link:
Zhu Bajie says
I haven’t read the _Left Behind_ books, but I have read Pat Robertson’s _The New World Order_. Somehow, he manages deny being anti-semitic while blaming to the world’s problems on those familiar Jewish bankers. The leopard has not really changed his spots.