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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Open Letter: Dear Pastor Hagee and Christian Zionists

Defend America Vote Israel

[Pastor John Hagee is the head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) – an American pro-Israel Christian organization that defines itself as “a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel.” It is the largest Christian pro-Israel organization in the United States.]

Dear Pastor Hagee and Christians Zionists,

Thank you for the work that you are doing. Christians supporting Israel is a beautiful phenomenon and it is beginning to heal the many wounds that Jews suffered at the hands of persecutors in the name of the Church for almost two-millennia. It is amazing to see Christians singing Israeli songs in beautiful harmony, waving the flag of Israel along with the flag of the USA, and even donating their hard-earned money to many causes of Israel. It is a sight that past generations could not have imagined, and it is a blessing for Israel and a blessing for Christians as well.

To be sure, there is still lingering suspicion between our two worlds. Among the Jews, there are many who doubt the sincerity of Christians with regard to Israel. Jewish skepticism is understandable since the dark past is still fresh while some Christian circles continue to practice underhanded missionizing tactics against Jews and maintain a goal of infiltrating Israel. These keep many Jews from believing that there are Christians who truly love Israel without ulterior motives.

For its side, the Christian world is certainly not homogeneous. While Israel-lovers make their voices heard, Israel-haters, like those who recently organized the “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference” in Bethlehem seek to undermine Israel’s sovereignty. These Christians do not see the ingathering of the Jews to the land of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy but rather an obstacle to their theological supremacy. For them, replacement theology is alive and well, with Christianity attempting to best Judaism and Palestine aiming to replace Israel.

This is why true Christian Zionism is so important: it gives a platform for Bible-believing pro-Israel Christians to show their real love for Israel, to heal the painful past, and to offset the forces that want to use Christianity to bring Israel down.

However, if Christian Zionism to is win the ideological war against replacement theology, and earn Jewish trust, Christian Zionism needs to take a stand on real issues. Standing with Israel means backing Israel when we face our enemies. Today, those enemies use, more and more, the tool of delegitimization to remove the underpinnings of the Jewish State. Shockingly, some of the US Government’s own policies lend a hand to the delegitimization campaign, and it is in this arena where Israel-loving American citizens in general, and American Christian Zionists in particular, can make a difference.

Here is one example among many:

When I speak with American Christian groups I ask: “Do you know that the US is the number-one delegitimizer of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem?”

People are invariably shocked when I explain that the US refuses to place its embassy in Jerusalem because it does not recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, let alone the capital of Israel. The State Department does not even add the word “Israel” to the word “Jerusalem” in any official document including birth certificates, passports, and death certificates, so that children born in Jerusalem (like my daughter) have no “country of birth” listed in their American papers.

As Ambassador Yoram Ettinger has written: “Israel is the only country in the world, whose (3,000 year old) capital is not recognized by the State Department and by the Presidents of the US. However 71% [of the American people] support (and 9% oppose) Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital.”

I also remind American Christians that it is not only about paper work. US government representatives make a point to tell Israel not to build in Jerusalem. This was the case in August 2010 when Vice President Biden slammed Israel for planning to build additional housing in a well established residential neighborhood in the capital.

This State Department position sends a signal to the world that if America, Israel’s friend, rejects the legitimacy of Jewish Jerusalem, certainly the Irans of this world have a right to challenge it as well.

But the American people did not accept this toxic status quo. They fought and passed a new law in Congress entitled the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which calls for the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999. The law also said that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city…[and that] Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”

But this act has a proviso which allows the president to waive the law every 6 months. And, sadly, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, have not missed an opportunity to deny the American people the fulfillment of the law which reflects their will and has been passed by their representatives. In fact, President Obama just signed the waiver again, and regarding Mitt Romney, JTA writes: “the Republican presidential candidate, has privately told Jewish leaders he would not commit to moving the embassy as president.” So the US embassy is still in Tel Aviv, and my daughter’s US passport is still countryless.

At this point of the talk, members of the American Christian group I am addressing are really mad and they want to know only one thing: “How do we engage? Our own government delegitimizes Jewish rights to Jerusalem and thereby delegitimizes the State of Israel! How do we combat our government which is taking our money to curtail policies we voted for, and fulfill policies that we abhor?”

And that is the beauty of American civil society – being suspicious of power in the hands of government and keeping that power in check is hardwired into the American system, and into the American psyche. As the long history of American politics and jurisprudence shows: US government policy can actually be changed by the people. They just need to be empowered.

With that in mind, I turn to you, Pastor Hagee.

At the top of your website one finds a quote from Isaiah: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet.” This begs the question: where is CUFI and the Christian Zionist community on the Jerusalem issue? Where is the American people’s voice, and especially the Christian voice, saying “Hey, US Government, fulfill your mandate, end the waiver charade, and follow the law. The American people want the US to recognize Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel now!”

Pastor Hagee, I once heard you say at a fundraiser in Jerusalem: “Don’t tell me you love me, show me you love me.” Now I say that very phrase back to you – Don’t tell me you love me, show me you love me by harnessing the power of CUFI and Christian Zionists to defend Jerusalem from bad US policy. American Christian Zionists are in a unique position to be part of the struggle against Israel’s delegitimization and they are waiting for you to empower them and If CUFI gets behind the issue, you can be sure the White House will listen.

A success in this arena will be a historical achievement for CUFI and for American Christian Zionism, and it will go a long way to building bridges and healing age-old wounds. In short, this is your fight.

With Sincere Respect,

[Editors note: The movement for US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is beginning to take root in the Christian world. On June 6, 2012, the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation together with members of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus held the second annual Jerusalem Day Prayer Breakfast hosted Jewish and Christian leaders, addressing the importance of Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people.

Members of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus and co-chairs Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-02) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-05) spoke together with Rep. Michelle Bachman, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Joe Walsh, Rep. Randy Hultgren, and Rep. John Flemming along with his wife Cindy Flemming. They declared support for a united Jerusalem and the legislation that is currently in the House and Senate to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Erick Stakelbeck of CBN reported on event.]

Yishai Fleisher

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is a Contributing Editor at JewishPress.com, Chief Editor at JNi.media, talk-show host, and International Spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with their children.

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