Wise words always seem to come from Rabbi Eric Yoffie when he speaks. Recently he addressed an international Islamic conference and denounced Jewish and Muslim extremism. Now, he has given all Reform congregations explicit instructions that John Hagee, Christian evangelical zealot and founder of Christians United for Israel should not be welcome by anyone in the movement. Thank God and higiah z’man:
“No, we cannot.” We cannot cooperate with the Christian Zionists, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, told the annual conference of the movement’s rabbis…
“What they mean by support of Israel and what we mean by support of Israel are two very different things.”
…In his speech Wednesday night…Yoffie declared that an alliance with Christian Zionists must be rejected for the sake of Israel. Christian Zionist support for Israel is harmful, he said. It’s not “unconditional support for the Jewish state,” but rather support for certain leaders, certain parties, for a political agenda that is unacceptable to Yoffie and, he believes, to a majority of Israelis. The Evangelicals reject a two-state solution and oppose Israeli territorial concessions, and for that reason the Reform Movement cannot cooperate with them.
Yoffie’s speech focused on one man: John Hagee, founder of the Christians United for Israel lobby group. That in itself is notable, since Hagee ostensible received the stamp of approval when he was invited to speak to an AIPAC policy conference last year.
…”By what right do we expect others to walk away from those who make anti-Jewish or anti-Israel statements when we will not walk away from those [like Hagee] who make anti-Islam or anti-Catholic statements?”
The Reform leader stresses he isn’t rejecting support from the Evangelicals per se, but rather only those whose political goals he sees as unacceptable…
The AP story on the speech also quotes this important passage:
“On Israeli-Palestinian politics, John Hagee and the CUFI are extremists. In expressing contempt for other religions and rejecting territorial compromise under any and all circumstances, their views run against the American grain.”
The speech ended on this important note:
“And it is important to remember that Israel’s greatest friends and most important defenders are not the fundamentalists and extremists and those who take their orders directly from God, but those who work for an end to this terrible conflict, and who pray for peace for all who live in the land that we all call holy,”
As a great gospel singer used to say: “Say amen somebody.” For the full speech visit this page.
Aside from the importance of the Reform movement’s top leader denouncing evangelical extremism on behalf of Israel, the speech is important because several federations around the country have hosted “evenings for Israel” organized by CUFI. While some community leaders have criticized these events, no one on the national scene has done so and they have sprung up like mushrooms after a spring rain (well, perhaps not so fertile as that). Yoffie’s remarks should make any Jewish congregation, even non-Reform, think twice before allying itself with the good and radical reverend.
It should also set up an interesting tension between Yoffie’s movement and AIPAC which feted Hagee like a lion with standing ovations and rousing huzzahs when he delivered a stem-winding sermon attacking Arabs and calling for a military attack against Iran at its last convention.
For any students of Shmuel Rosner’s right-wing journalism, take a look at the assumptions underlying his Haaretz story and study them to see what editorial partisanship passing for serious journalism looks like.
I take back my opening sentence as JTA points out that some very feeble thoughts did actually come from Yoffie during the same speech:
…From the Palestinians we see only relentless terror. Surely the Palestinian national movement, in its various manifestations, is one of the ugliest and stupidest national movements in modern history.”
Uglier and stupider than the terror employed by sectors of the Jewish national movement before 1948? The good rabbi seems to have a case of historical amnesia.
Or perhaps someone you consider to be a rational clear thinking person is in fact correct about the national movement of the Palestinians, clearly not seeking simply a state as the Jewish national movement back then did… and taking terror to whole other level… so if he states something that is UN PC to state and clarifies a difference, lest can you believe it? – makes a judgment and a harsh one at that regarding the Palestinians – suddenly he does not fit the PC mold, and should be shunned as a ‘baddie’ by you…
It’s almost too comical to follow your mental progression in the same post. As soon as someone strays from a completely PC line and g-d forbid spouts some truths regarding the Palestinians, he’s to be shunned… and suddenly, though surprisingly not yet did you do it – a <b>right winger</b>…… or <b>Israel first extremist</b> another words…. well don’t listen to him anymore…. listen to me but not to him, bcs I, Richard Silverstein am not so stained, so let me explain to you what is true reality and what is not…. tell where and how to look at something and what to avoid looking at….
It’s literally big brother left wing filter information.
Norman Weinstein says
May God, or somebody else in Supreme Command, watch over the Chosen People if indeed they deem it wise and right to accept the hug of that weird and dangerous freak of a con artist, the Reverend (so-called) John Hagee, who, in between his fiery Nazi-type harangues of his countless congregants and visits to his bank, advocates for extreme right-wing Israeli fanatics and their über-alles vision of bigotry and land-grabbing. Solomon123 declares that “It’s almost too comical to follow your mental progression in the same post.” I assume the “your” is a reference to poor Richard’s political almanac, which I fully defend and only wish more of same existed here and, for that matter, in Israel. From what I can translate from out Mr. Solomon123’s gibberish, I gather that he considers Richard’s anti-Hagee position in itself treif. I can only believe that anyone, Jew or otherwise, who can gaze upon and listen to that fulminating reverend with his far-right oral diarrhoea without either laughing hysterically or throwing up needs both a brain and a heart transplant, not necessarily in that order.
Oh, but I agree with Richard about the attitudes of the early nationalists on both sides.
Maybe the Good Rabbi isn’t aware of the real histories of both nationalisms – so many people are laboring under false assumptions where these are concerned.
I don’t know anything about Hagee, and there is concern about missionary activities in Israel, but I don’t think we in Israel can afford to go pushing off people who support us, for whatever reasons. I couldn’t care less what his eschatological beliefs are as long if he supports us today. I also don’t care about Christians who believe that their’s is the “true” religion and that they believe, in theory (again, as opposed to actual missionary activity) that one has to believe in their religion in order to achieve “salvation”, as long as they practice tolerance down here on a day to day basis.
I do NOT understand people who denounce “extremism” in “pro-Israel” people but find it “understandable” in our enemies. For example, Dr Yossi Beilin who went around hugging Arafat and his terrorist friends, suddenly turned around and opposed Israel welcoming former Italian Foreign Minister Fini who was in a party that IN THE PAST was pro-Mussolin but which has renounced it and which opposes antisemitism and is openly pro-Israel (in fact, Fini, who is friendly with Netanyahu was accused of being TOO pro-Israel for Beilin’s taste). I don’t see why Beilin suddenly get all “understanding” of those who kill Jews in the name of Palestinian nationalism. Simply hypocrisy, to my mind.
I personally don’t care about John Hagee one way or the other… I just find the sermons of most concern to me happen to be coming out of the Mufti of Jeruslaem or Egypt Syria etc… mouths…. it’s just funny to me how Mr. Silverstein is praising highly this reformed Rabbi but when this same clear thinking reformed Rabbi has the temerity to actually state that the Palestinian national movement is one that is a hate/rejectionist terrorist one, than Richard says ‘poo poo’…. but if the Rabbi wants to talk endlessly with strong adjectives about John Hagee Mr. Silverstein will kvell and kvell…. .
You see this Reformed Rabbi doesn’t know the rules… you can denounce with fervent over the top language – Bush – Sharon – even Barak bcs and even more strongly preachers like Hagee… whether they’re worthy for criticism is not my point or concern… but dare any of these people stray over and use even 1/10 as strong language to describe the Palestinian national movement, the Arab incitement within their media or schools etc… and if you criticize in the slightest and not point out some Jewish guilt somewhere well then you’re a fascist, right wing Israel first extremist
Those are the rules… if you keep the conversation safe and about Hagee than it’s ok… but if you stray the far left PC though police will try and tar and feather you….. while letting you know that Mr. Wright on the other hand is a man of justice and peace…..
Got the rules now?
bar_kochba_132 – which bit about “may advance their theology but ” did you not understand?
Rapture Ready: The Unauthorised Christians United For Israel Tour – by Max Blumenthal
Solomon123 – there is something mighty fishy about someone who want Jews to turn against their historic allies for an eschatological alliance that seeks the disappearance of all but a few thousand Jews. If this doesn’t ring any bells in your Nazi-radar, then your Nazi-radar needs some adjustment. Which part of Hagee’s Eschatology equating to Hitler’s Final Solution did you not understand?
Where did you ever see me make a judgment favorable to Hagee?
I made a cogent observation about Silverstein and the rules about descriptive adjectives… re who is ok to take down in a strong manner with an aura of disgust and who is not – in the far left PC rulebook….
If you can’t understand my point without thereby then equating me as a ‘Hagee supporter’ than I’m sorry that you can’t understand any complexity.
What did the current Mufti of Jerusalem say to give you concern, Solomon123.
That he thinks some Jews are out to destroy Haram al-Sharif? He’s right. Some are, as you well know, there have been numerous threats by extremist Jewish and Christian groups to destroy Haram al Sharif.
Or is it the claims that over the last 9 years, erasure of material evidence of Jewish presence there has taken place? This may seem harsh to you, but it is no less disturbing than to read of the erasure of material evidence of Islamic presence in the region by Haganah and others. It’s a bad game being played.
You could perhaps turn your effort to calling for meaningful negotiations for lasting peace, and recognition of shared sacred spaces take place? How do easy do you think it is for the land’s Muslims to trust, given that Israeli forces have erased Islamic history and religious sites across the land? Tell me, did anyone apart from a few brave and clear-sighted academics ever speak out against these despicable acts at the time?
It was not widely known by non-Muslims or people living outside Israel that the IDF were going around destroying the material evidence of Muslim presence in the land. Over 120 mosques were destroyed. Moshe Dayan gave orders for at least three to be blown up including the ancient mosque (1,000 years old) at Yavneh of which only the mineret still stands, the Maqam al-Nabi Hussein at Ashkelon (of which no stone remains). You want to know why the Mufti of Jerusalem is twitchy? There are constant threats by extremist groups of both Jews and Christians to blow up the Haram al Sharif. You want to imagine why claims of erasure of Jewish material evidence fall on deaf ears when you consider the number of preceding erasures of Muslim history in the land?! Simply, the situation is so bad today because of the continuing threats against the current Islamic structure there, and this is why there can be no talk even of a Synagogue to be rebuilt in the courtyard at Haram al-Sharif as there was in Maimonides day. We know deep in our hearts that it is entirely possible to share sacred space because it has been done in the past, but the recent past – events of 60-58 years ago – have made all talk of this an impossibility.
If it were down to me, I’d begin making apologies for the destructions of the past and try to find ways to make reparations at many different levels – from the sacred to the social to the territorial.
Solomon123 – what incitement in schools is this? The incitement that has been disproven? If you’re going to form an opinion based on faulty evidence and propaganda then your opinion is going to be worthless. For goodness sake man, start questioning what you’ve been told.
Richard Silverstein says
Solomon123: I think you’re having a sarcasm overdose. I tried ignoring you but that didn’t seem to work. Seems to have made you even more frustrated & insulting. In order to protect your health I’m providing an all-expenses paid vacation from commenting in this blog. Enjoy the time off.
Hagee and his ilk present a serious danger to the Jewish People. Look at history: periodically there have been Christian leaders who had an agenda for the Jews, and been very affectionate as long as the Jews are “good Jews” and go along with the agenda. As soon as it becomes clear that we’re not with their program, then it’s persecution time. (For but one example among many, look at Martin Luther’s brief love affair with Judaism.)
As for the agenda of Hagee & Co., take a look at the “Left Behind” novels, the most accessible vehicle for learning about millennial dispensationalism, the set of eschatalogical beliefs having to do with “the Rapture” etc. These folks are utterly serious, and will be extremely frustrated and angry when we don’t drop everything to accept Jesus at the right moment. I think that it is naive to take their money and aid and think that our children or grandchildren are not going to pay for our opportunism.
I agree with what you said here, so eloquently, Ruth: ” I think that it is naive to take their money and aid and think that our children or grandchildren are not going to pay for our opportunism.”
I wonder if you could even find any strong sarcasm… more like observations you don’t want to address. The sarcasm and name calling is your specialty as well as apparently the iron clamp Big Brother silencer. Any uncomfortalbe untidy debate, simple just turn it off and either tar and feather, or attribute some quality that was non-existent…. <b>pretty sad you are buddy</b>
Richard Silverstein says
My blog, little brother. Follow the rules or you don’t get to be snotty. Look up the comment rules in the sidebar & you’ll find out which ones you broke. Gratuitous insult is just one of ’em. If you’d stuck to arguments instead of insults you would’ve been just fine. I don’t havve problems w. those who argue against my pt of view–only w. those holier than thou who think they’re God’s gift to Israel & see it as their role in life to point out the errors of the ways of Jewish heathen like myself, & do so in a snarky, mean-spirited way. I’ve only got so much time to write my blog & respond to comments & I don’t want to be wasting it w. the likes of you.
And as for “turning off untidy debate” there are nearly 7,000 comments here most written by people who disagree w. me. I didn’t turn off their debate. Only yrs.
Hagee is a nice individual, but not the ideal Enlightened man.
Yoffie is also a nice individual, but similarly under the influence of a religion.
The truth is hidden in atheism.
Let us have some decency in public life, and international relationships by adhering to secular only principles.
Yes, Steve, the world needs more enlightened atheists like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.
Here are Hagee’s own words from a recent sermon.
Let each Jew decide for themselves whether we should take money from this guy.
how is God going to bring them back to the land? The answer is fishers and hunters.
The answer is given in Jeremiah 16, verse 15 and following. God says in Jeremiah 16 – “Behold I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave unto their fathers” – that would be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – “Behold I will send for many fishers and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them” – that will be the Jews – “from every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.” If that doesn’t describe what Hitler did in the Holocaust… you can’t see that.
So think about this – I will send fishers and I will send hunters. A fisher is someone who entices you with a bait. How many of you know who Theodore Hertzel was? How many of you don’t have a clue who he was? WOO… Sweet God!
Theodore Hertzel is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew that at the turn of the 19th century said – “this land is our land, God wants us to live there”. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said, “I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel”. So few went, Hertzel went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the Holocaust.
Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.
And the Bible says – Jeremiah righty? – “they shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks”, meaning: there’s no place to hide.
I love John Hagee. When he speaks of Israel to his congregation there is an outpouring of love for the Jewish people, and that is very gratifying to me as a Jew. It feels like an enormous vindication for all the hatred we have suffered. He has a lot more ahavat yisrael than some Jews I have met. I feel he deserves support from the Jewish community. You might assume I am politically naive. I am not. I know how the world works and I know a friend when I see one.
Richard Silverstein says
YOu remind me of the way Milton describes Satan in Paradise Lost. Satan is a friend in that great work too. A powerful, compelling figure. Your best pal. Except when he’s not. You, my friend, are woefully deluded.