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Hagee, The Holocaust, And Us


 

Naphtali Lau-Lavie was rescued from Buchenwald in 1945 by American soldiers. He made it to Israel (not yet in existence at the time of his father’s reference to Jeremiah) and he eventually served as Israel’s consul-general in New York.

As for Pastor Hagee’s reference to Ezekiel 37, perhaps an even shorter explanation may suffice. At Yad Vashem, the first thing one notices is a prominent quotation in large letters on a column above the parking lot. It reflects the promise in the immediately preceding verse that God will “open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves . . . and I will bring you into the land of Israel.” The quotation engraved on the column (Ezekiel 37:14) is this: “And I will put My spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will set you on your land.”

5. Literal readings of the Bible, belief in a judgmental God, faith in miracles foretold, or suggestions the God of the Hebrew Bible continues to play an active role in history are not fashionable today. Simply voicing them is not politically correct, and can result in an attempt to exclude one from public life.

The modern age is one in which all authority is challenged, especially religious authority. It would be a better age if the more traditional views of others were accorded greater respect.

In noting that Pastor Hagee’s sermon was from 1990, there is perhaps an implicit suggestion that it should be discounted as simply an “old” sermon. But the 1990 date is significant for two other reasons. First, it reflects the fact that Pastor Hagee has been supporting Israel and the Jewish people for more than two decades. He has made such support the central tenet of his entire ministry. As Doris Wise Montrose observed, Pastor Hagee should not be scorned but honored – especially by the Jewish community.

Second, 1990 was just after the time when a million Jews had finally been able to leave the Soviet Union – the most powerful totalitarian state in history – and go to Israel. To Pastor Hagee, it was another instance of the Exodus “from the North” that Jeremiah had predicted – another modern miracle, like the re-creation of the State of Israel itself.

One need not agree with every element of Pastor Hagee’s sermon, nor believe in Jewish eschatology, nor even endorse the arguments of theodicy, to recognize that his treatment by the political/media complex was an injustice reflecting the perils of defending Israel in terms that are not politically correct.

It is particularly unfortunate that many Jewish leaders and organizations stood by silently while a longtime friend of Israel and the Jewish people was driven from the public square.

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More Articles from Rick Richman

Late last year, I was flying from Los Angeles to San Jose – a trip I have made many times in the course of my professional career. Over the years, I have watched the San Jose airport transform itself – from a one-building terminal with rental cars parked on the curb to an international airport with rental car facilities much larger than the entire airport I first visited many years ago.

The firestorm that erupted with the YouTube posting of excerpts from a 1990 sermon by Pastor John Hagee – reflecting his belief that the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel both reflected God’s will – is a case study of how certain religious views have been placed beyond the pale of permissible discussion.

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Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were in Los Angeles last month, speaking to an overflow crowd of more than 300 people at the Armand Hammer Museum – part of a speaking tour with appearances at World Affairs Councils in San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C., the City Club in Cleveland, forums at the University of Chicago, MIT and Columbia University, the Cambridge Forum in Harvard Square, and media slots on NPR, the Colbert Report, and WTTW-TV in Chicago.

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