Recently, Max Blumenthal uncovered that Elie Wiesel accepted a $500,000 gift from John Hagee, the anti-Semitic pro-settler televangelist. Wiesel appears to have resisted Hagee’s blandishments to come to San Antonio to speak to his congregation as he admits in a video available at the Hagee website. But once Hagee waved that $500,000 check in his face, and after Bernie Madoff had already cleaned him out, Wiesel saw the benefit of making common cause with the Christian Zionist zealot. Wiesel is also a useful tool for Hagee, as the former provides the latter that veneer of Jewish respectability he needs in the face of massive criticism of his motives and his record of strange statements about Jews and the Holocaust.
Thanks to Didi Remez, I’ve been doing some digging among Hagee’s other gifts to Israeli organizations. In fairness, he does give gifts to hospitals and absorption centers, which are perfectly reasonable. But it is notable how much money and how extensively he gives to pro-settler and extreme rightist Israeli groups.
Besides Im Tirtzu ($200,000 over two years), the radical right smearmeisters who put a horn on Naomi Chazan in a disgusting ad in the Jerusalem Post and Hebrew language press, there are these others (some of which are listed here on page 12):
Gush Katif, $200,000
Young Israel, $150,000
Shurat Ha-Din, $100,000
Nefesh B’Nefesh, $1,000,000
Ariel (settlement), $500,000
Gush Etzion, $150,000
Gush Katif funds support the settler malcontents who resisted the Gaza withdrawal. It offers them financial support to continue their resistance to territorial compromise and defiance of the directives of Israel’s democratically elected government.
Young Israel is one of the most virulent U.S. Orthodox groups supporting the most extreme of the settlers and settlements.
Shurat Ha-Din is an Israeli-American group using “lawfare” to wage war against the Arab world. It sues Arab banks alleging that they accept deposits from militant groups in violation of U.S. law. The group also hosts “Intellitours” to Israel which include meetings with Shin Bet assassins who’ve perpetrated targeted assassinations.
Nefesh B’Nefesh resettles new immigrants who make aliya. It makes a special point of directing these immigrants to West Bank settlements and subsidizes their lives there. In effect, this is yet another means of providing ideological and financial support to the settler movement.
Ariel and Gush Etzion are two of the larger settlements in the West Bank. Hagee’s Ariel gift supported a new conference center. Again, providing critical infrastructure support strengthens the settler enterprise.
I should add that these are only the publicly announced gifts. Neither Christians United for Israel nor John Hagee Ministries file 990 IRS forms, claiming they are exempt due to being a church. As far as CUFI is concerned, this appears to be an abuse of the system as it is certainly not a church. Rather it is a pro-Israel political-theological group advocating on behalf of the settler movement and Israel’s far right. Of course, the IRS does nothing to police such abuse as I’ve noted here in similar cases regarding other pro-settler U.S. non-profits.
Since Hagee’s giving is not transparent he could be giving much, much more and to even more radical groups than the ones he publicly acknowledges. Only he knows and he’s not telling.
Maybe we should ask Elie Wiesel how he feels being among such a hit parade of Israeli Jewish extremists, not to mention taking tzedakah from the bizarro Hagee himself.
Equally troubling about Hagee is that he was a close associate of Jack Abramoff. I also personally believe that he is a con artist who fleeces his 18,000 Cornerstone congregants and pockets the lion’s share of the till. Of course, the hypocrisy is not limited to money, but also involves Hagee’s truly loopy religious beliefs which make him one of the most virulent anti-Semites around. His support of these settler groups is part of Hagee’s big plan to help bring about the Second Coming, of course. I just can’t figure out where Abramoff fit into that plan.
Of course, the whole Christian Zionist movement is the absolute epitome of anti-Semitism. What could possibly be more anti-Semitic than promoting Zionism in order to use the Jewish people as the primary instrument in the final obliteration of the Jewish people? Makes Hitler look like a pathetic amateur in his quest for the “final solution”.
Why are gifts to absorption centers ‘perfectly reasonable’? Absorption centers are a central tool in the whole project to bring into Israel anyone from around the world who can claim to be Jewish, and to use these immigrants to displace Palestinians from their own ancestral lands and resources.
An excellent question, Helena, especially when many people who make aliyah are routed to settlements in the West Bank and to East Jerusalem. It’s already so crowded, why does Israel continue to advertise for citizens? Is there any other country on earth who does that?
Richard Silverstein says
I am not in favor of settling immigrants beyond the Green Line. And I’m in favor of radically rethinking the Law of Return. But I am in favor of absorbing immigrants within the Green Line & supporting them financially until they get on their feet. But I’d be in favor also of doing the same with Palestinian refugees who resettle in israel after the Right of Return issue is resolved.
Richard, I don’t see how that can even be practical because the resources, specifically water, are not sufficient to continue to support Israelis while Palestinians do not have enough. In any peace agreement, including a one-state solution, Israel will have to relinquish one aquifer it has been hogging while Palestinians are unable to irrigate their fields. Those Israeli swimming pools and golf courses are going to have to go.
Unfortunately, it seems that anyone who immigrates to Israel is warmly welcomed and encouraged to go to the West Bank to rip off the Palestinians. Maybe European Jews and converts have a so-called right to live in Israel, but for every one who does it, there is a Palestinian who can never return to his or her ancestral home.
And Mary, let’s not forget that Israel has also been known to go to great lengths to find some incredibly obscure Jewish, or “Jewish” communities in some rather odd places, bring them to Israel, and use them to populate the West Bank. I am thinking right now, for example, of those Jews – or were they “Jews”? – they found living in an obscure, isolated village in the mountains of Peru. They got them officially converted, flew them to Israel with the usual “milk and honey” promises, and straight away planted them in the West Bank.
In general, they have often used the poorest and most disadvantaged Jewish minorities to help colonize the West Bank in much the same way they used the Arab Jews they induced to emigrate to Israel to quickly populate the country, and server as low-level workers, in the years after 1948. They were considered “poor human material”, but it was necessary to quickly raise the Jewish population.
But Richard, as it stands now, today, gifts to absorption centers are, as Helena pointed out, supporting one of the main tools by which Palestinians are being displaced. Therefore now, today, gifts to absorption centers do not seem at all acceptable to me.
Exactly. Why does Israel continue to advertise for settlers?? Unless it is to displace Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? Why is it that Jews are sold the bill of goods that is aliyah? The ultimate Jewish experience is to become an Israeli?
Of course, it is precisely to continue the colonization of and displacement of the Palestinians from the West Bank, and particularly from East Jerusalem.
Richard Silverstein says
I see yr pt. But I wanted to be very careful in terms of which donations I attacked. Donations specifically to groups which are avowedly pro settler were definitely kosher for attack. Gifts for absorption I wanted to hold off on attacking. But if people can verify that these absorption centers are publicly supporting settling people in the Territories then I’d go after them too. I’d just like to see physical evidence to support this. Not that I disbelieve. It’s just that I’m open to attack fr. pro settlerites & need proof before I go out on a limb.
I am preaching to the choir here but I would like to draw your attention to two reports by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territories here in Jerusalem that came out last year. They are well researched and of very high quality I believe. One of them deals with settlements and other Israeli infrastructure and their impact on Palestinians:
The other one deals with settler violence and the ‘price tag’ strategy in which groups of settlers would exact a “price” against Palestinians and their property in response to attempts by the Israeli authorities to dismantle “unauthorized” settlement outposts:
The organisation I work for supports among others a small Palestinian cooperative in the West Bank to produce organic olive oil. One of their greatest worries is the nearby outpost. Recently people from the outpost came and burned a number of olive trees. This hurts!
As you probably are aware, Palestinian olive groves in the West Bank are also subject to theft of fruit committed by settlers. B’TSelem has recorded these thefts on video.