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Hagee, The Holocaust, And Us

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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.

About the Author: Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (www.jpundit.typepad.com/jci/).

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