CUFI: Amidst the Fires Surrounding Israel, A Breath of Fresh Air. On July 21 and 22 in Washington DC, several thousand Christians will gather to celebrate and to say nice things about Israel. This will be the ninth annual Christians United for Israel ( CUFI) Summit which has met each year since 2006 under the hard hitting, visionary leadership of Pastor John Hagee. David Brog, the capable Executive Director, is also the author of several books the most recent of which is In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity. Brog whimsically claims to audiences that he a “thoroughly Jewish Jew” who was inspired by the idea of being in the driver’s seat of a conservative, pro-Israel Christian organization. Who would have thought? With Brog and Hagee at the helm, Christians United for Israel ( CUFI) is making a Herculean attempt to counter the growing culture of anti-Semitism in the United States by harnessing a sometimes elusive Christian pro-Israel, pro-Jewish sentiment. With 1.7 million members, CUFI is a growing, vocal remnant among what is estimated by Pew Research to be 246 million Christians living in the USA.
Those attending the CUFI Summit include both Christians and Jews from everywhere in the United States and a smattering of foreign nations. They will hear a lineup of speakers focused on, among other things, the importance of supporting Israel in a climate where supporting Israel is not always very popular.
The extraordinary aspect of the Summit is the speakers who come from every corner of the pro-Israel spectrum. Among them will be: Dennis Prager, a prominent syndicated radio talk show host and columnist as well as a Jewish political conservative; Erick Stakelbeck, host of CBN’s The Watchman and author of The Brotherhood and The Terrorist Next Door; Elliott Abrams, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former National Security Advisor; Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author of a current best-selling book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics ; James Woolsey, a foreign policy specialist and former Director if the CIA. And so it goes. Jews, Christians and curbstone setters of almost every color, size, variety and vision speak at the CUFI Summit. But the one thing that drives them all is a love for and an understanding of the importance of Israel on the world stage.
While the CUFI delegations are busy paying tribute and celebrating Israel, there are those in other neighborhoods who have sinister plans for her annihilation. As you read this, you may have noticed that there are active military events going on in and around Israel. On the western front, Israel is trying to curb Hamas rockets from Gaza; on the Golan, Israel is fending off Syrian fighting; on Israel’s northern border , Hezbollah has positioned thousands of long and short range rockets aimed at Tel Aviv. And let’s not forget Iran which is rapidly moving toward becoming a nuclear presence and an avowed threat to Israel’s destruction.
While assaults on Israel are nothing new, the size and scope of the current aggression is now both multi-national and multicultural, coming not from one nation but from many and with the support of many more. The Bible tells stories of endless attempts to terminate the Jews and the Jewish nation. These are the stories remembered each year at millions of Passover Seders and at Purim celebrations. From the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt to the venomous bluster of Ahmadinejad, from Haman to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, from Hitler to Stalin and in every generation there is a lineup of Jew Killers waiting in the wings for their opportunity to forge the elements of the next Holocaust.
Queuing up to launch today’s destruction of Israel, the Islamist Jihadis are first and most vocal. Next, the covert partnership between the secular and religious Left who have engineered the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions ( BDS) movement while they claim to seek peace and justice for all peoples (particularly the “Palestinians”).
Last in line, but certainly not least, are Christian groups like the PC(USA), the Methodists, the Lutherans and a variety of others who are lending material support to the enemies of Israel through the mainstream press and partnership in the international Boycott/ Divestment/Sanction initiatives.
Among several ascending trends, CUFI’s Hagee and Brog have noticed a marked increase in Christian efforts to undermine Israel through organized ‘Christian’ tours to the region being run by anti-Israel factions under the guise of “Middle East Peace Tours” and so called “Solidarity tours” which are primarily intended to foster sympathy for a “Palestinian victim” narrative.
According to some commentators and scholars, the evangelical Christian community is the predominant pro-Israel group among all Christians. Gallup gives us an idea of who the evangelicals are . On the one hand, evangelicals appear more likely to support Israel than other Christian groups, there is, on the other hand, abundant evidence that only a portion of evangelical Christians are on board with the pro-Israel narrative. In fact, there are certain evangelicals who consider themselves to be in sympathy with the pro-“Palestinian” narrative like Gary Burge of Wheaton College.
Recently there has been a move afoot by so called ‘Christian’ evangelical groups like “Sabeel” whose aim is to turn evangelicals away from their support of Israel and toward a “Palestinian” narrative that actually demonizes Israel. Under the rubric of “Palestinian Liberation Theology” Naim Ateek, with his Sabeel organization, seems to be making his anti-Israel talking points produce fruit. The erosion and shifting of evangelical support away from Israel is showing up in a variety of ways. CUFI’s Hagee and Brog have expressed deep concerns about this alarming trend.
Over the years, especially since the end of World War II, respected scholars and writers have tried to unravel the underpinnings of the phenomenon known as “anti-Semitism.” Great tomes have gone forth scrutinizing the psychology, sociology, culture and theology of this nasty scourge on humanity. While understanding anti-Semitism is important, even more critical is for the pro-Israel community to stand up with organizations like CUFI while there are still opportunities to organize and mold positive change.
We remember it was only two short years between the moment Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 to the enactment of the Nuremburg Laws in 1935 which deprived Jews of their last vestige of hope throughout Europe. We cannot permit this to happen again.
About the Author: Susan Warner is the Founder and Director of Olive Tree Ministries, a Christian Ministry Based in Wilmington, Delaware. She has been teaching and writing about Christian anti-Semitism and Jewish Christian issues for over ten years and, with her husband David will be honored this Fall as a "Friend of Zion" by ZOA Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
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