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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Pastor Hagee’

J Street’s Wrong Turn

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The founding of J Street in 2008 sparked much debate in the pro-Israel community. Many were concerned that the group would be overly critical of the Jewish state and thus erode the pro-Israel consensus in the United States.

I and others disagreed and welcomed J Street’s stated desire to “broaden the public and policy debate in the U.S. about the Middle East.” It disturbed me that there were those who would seek to preclude any reasonable voice from competing in the marketplace of ideas.

Sadly, J Street has disappointed many of us who originally welcomed the group. Rather than seek to broaden the debate, J Street has worked to silence opposing voices. Rather than contribute new ideas to our dialogue, it too often has peddled misinformation and slurs. And rather than buttress Israel’s democracy, J Street has exhibited contempt for it.

When J Street was created, I had looked forward to working with adults dedicated to higher principle. Instead, we have suffered the attacks of partisans devoted to winning the news cycle.

As the executive director of Christians United for Israel, I have had firsthand experience with J Street’s unfortunate tactics. J Street does not like CUFI and from the very beginning has sought to banish us from the pro-Israel camp. Toward this end, J Street has made a series of false claims about CUFI policy and Christian theology.

J Street has gone so far as to pressure public figures not to speak to our members. A particular low point was J Street’s extensive (and unsuccessful) petition campaign aimed at forcing U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) to cancel his appearance at our 2008 summit in Washington.

So much for broadening the debate.

More recently, J Street again attacked CUFI. This time, J Street claimed we had contributed money to the Israel-based Zionist organization Im Tirtzu that published an advertisement demonizing the head of the New Israel Fund. Yet CUFI has never supported Im Tirtzu. The actual donor was John Hagee Ministries, an independent entity with a different focus – and the ad in question was published without the consent or knowledge of John Hagee Ministries.

Not content to merely misrepresent our actions, J Street proceeded to slur our chairman, John Hagee. In the only other piece of information that J Street provided about us, the organization claimed that Pastor Hagee “once said that Hitler was sent by God to force Jews to move to Israel.”

The lines J Street paraphrases come from a long sermon in which Pastor Hagee was wrestling with the perennial theological question of how a God Who loves the Jewish people could have allowed the Holocaust. Like many rabbis before him, Pastor Hagee suggested a connection between this low point in Jewish history and the high point that would follow a mere three years later with the birth of the State of Israel.

It is certainly fair to object to this interpretation. But it is quite another thing to cite this one line in isolation to create an image of Pastor Hagee that is completely at odds with his life’s work.

J Street intentionally obscures the fact that John Hagee has devoted his entire career to combating anti-Semitism. J Street ignores the fact that American Jewish leaders from Elie Wiesel to Abraham Foxman, and Israeli leaders from Prime Minister Netanyahu to Ambassador Michael Oren, have all recognized Pastor Hagee as a leading Christian ally in the fight against anti-Semitism. And J Street neglects to mention Pastor Hagee’s expression of regret for any pain his sermon may have caused and his pledge to be more sensitive in his future theological speculation.

Yet no one should be surprised that J Street has resorted to such distortions to shut opposing voices out of the debate. The group’s disdain for opposing views extends all the way to Israel itself.

Most pro-Israel organizations, including Christians United for Israel, support the positions of the democratically elected government of Israel. We do not live within Hamas or Hizbullah missile range. We do not send our children off to the Israeli army. Whatever our personal views, we in CUFI believe the difficult decisions about Israeli policy must be made by those who will most directly bear the consequences of the decisions: the Israeli people.

David Brog

A Memorable Night Among Israel’s Christian Defenders

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
Historically, we Jews have had few friends in this world. And the more grave our situation, the more scarce those friends seem to be. Which is why I found myself at a massive gathering at the Washington Convention Center on the night of July 22. There I was among friends at the annual Night to Honor Israel hosted by Christians United for Israel (CUFI) with speakers Pastor John Hagee (founder and national chairman of CUFI), Senator Joseph Lieberman and Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman.
I had never before attended a function sponsored by a Christian group, pro-Israel or otherwise, and though I interrupted my summer plans to attend, I was hesitant to tell people where I was going. Was I uncomfortable at the thought of dining on a plastic-covered kosher meal alongside supporters of Israel from the Bible Belt? I was. But when asked to attend, I decided to go for reasons of hakarat hatov (gratitude).
CUFI, an organization established by Pastor Hagee to support Israel and the Jewish people, does not bill itself as religious or theological; rather, it promotes aid to Israel and combats anti-Semitism. Over the years it has raised more than $30 million for Nefesh B’Nefesh, Migdal Ohr, United Jewish Communities (to benefit new immigrants to Israel), Ariel Development Fund, Kiryat Yam (Ethiopian Absorption Center), and many other Jewish organizations and causes.
            Pastor Hagee held the first Night to Honor Israel in 1981; in the wake of the worldwide condemnation and ostracism of Israel after it bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Hagee wanted to publicly support the Jewish state and promote understanding between Christians and Jews. The event has since become an annual tradition and a resounding success.
This particular Night to Honor Israel came on the heels of Pastor Hagee’s crucifixion at the hands of liberals desperate to pin a “Reverend Wright” on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain. Looking to redirect the sharp criticism raining down on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, for maintaining a 20-year relationship with a hate-mongering preacher, leftists noted Hagee’s endorsement of Sen. McCain and pounced on a late-1990’s sermon in which Hagee made reference to the Book of Jeremiah in explaining the Holocaust as a precursor to the return of Jews to Israel.
It hardly mattered that Hagee was not McCain’s pastor but merely an endorser of his candidacy, or that the pastor’s words were quoted out of context. The media latched on to the tenuous link between the two until McCain repudiated Hagee’s endorsement, and many of Hagee’s friends repudiated Hagee.
            At an April convention of Reform rabbis in Cincinnati, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, condemned Pastor Hagee and urged Jews not to attend Hagee’s Night to Honor Israel. While this was not surprising given the liberal politics of the Reform movement, it smacked of unadulterated ingratitude, considering Hagee’s efforts to strengthen ties between Jews and Christians and raise tens of millions of dollars for Jewish causes.
With that in mind, I could not refuse the call of Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, for Jews to attend this year’s CUFI dinner to give chizuk (encouragement) to Pastor Hagee. After all, Hagee had initiated the Night to Honor Israel after witnessing Israel’s ostracism by the international community; he deserved nothing less in his own time of need.
I am still marveling at the enthusiasm and downright affection I saw and felt that night toward Israel and the Jewish people. We were perhaps forty Orthodox Jews, many of us heads of organizations, in a sea of more than three thousand Christians whose leaders spoke of the God-given right Jews have to Eretz Yisrael. They spoke of the debt of gratitude Christians owe Jews for their contributions to the world and of the blessings God grants to those who support Israel. Enormous banners hanging in the convention center and banquet hall proclaimed “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet” (Isaiah 62:1).
I will never forget the sight of thousands of people – Christians – waving Israeli flags while thunderously applauding statements most Jews are afraid of voicing. In a speech broadcast worldwide, Pastor Hagee unabashedly declared that Christians must stand with Israel because they have a Bible mandate to do so. He vowed support for the entire land of Israel and for an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for all time. He asked forgiveness from Jews for Christian silence during the Holocaust and warned that threats to the Jewish people today must be taken seriously, whether they be from the “modern day Hamans” of Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas, or from those who wish to boycott Israel and harm it in any way.
            He stated that “nations who persecute the Jews will be judged by God” and recounted the empires and countries of the past that persecuted and killed Jews and that became “historical footnotes in the graveyard of Jewish history.” He contrasted them with the Jews, who are “alive and well, thriving and prosperingand who will be the praise of all the earth.”
           Hagee concluded his remarks with the admonition that as anti-Semitism grows so does the need for Christians to stand with the Jews.
            When Sen. Lieberman spoke he earned bellowing applause not only for his words but his mere presence.
            Lieberman told the audience he had come under intense pressure to cancel his speech following the attack on Hagee in the media. But the senator refused to abandon the pastor and opened his address with the remark, “I am your brother Joseph.”
Lieberman documented Israel’s existence from the time God told Abraham to journey to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1), highlighted the threat of radical Islam to Israel and America, and thanked Pastor Hagee and CUFI for their support. He even threw in a d’var Torah based on the words of Rav Joseph Soloveitchik and another based on a medrash in Parshas Shemos.
After hearing such a speech and after watching more than a minyan of frum men disappear briefly for Mincha, I almost forgot where I was. But the presence of so many thousands of these ohavei Yisrael (lovers of Israel) in one room, though heartening, was somewhat disquieting as well.
While it was gratifying and comforting to know we have friends we can rely on, the sheer numbers of the crowd and the defiance of their tone made for a depressing comparison: Rarely do events in support of Israel draw Jewish attendees in anywhere near the numbers I saw at the Night to Honor Israel. And rarely do speakers at those events display the bold honesty I heard at this Christian event.
The thousands of participants also took part in CUFI’s Washington/Israel Summit before and after the dinner. For three days they attended conferences on Israel with influential speakers and elected officials and lobbied members of Congress in support of Israel. I have attended similar conferences and lobbying missions sponsored by Jewish groups and can remember maybe two hundred people showing up.
The Christians of CUFI fervently believe God will bless them because of their support of the Jewish people. In our jaded world rife with expediency and opportunism, I stand in awe of their activism on behalf of a historically beleaguered people for nothing more tangible than a blessing.
If only we Jews would exhibit more selfless vigor and devotion on behalf of our own righteous causes, in a less fractured way and for a similar return on our investment.

            Sara Lehmann, formerly an editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, is currently a mother and freelance editor residing in Brooklyn. 

Sara Lehmann

Letters To The Editor

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Hurray For Hagee (I)
   I had tears in my eyes as I read Pastor John Hagee’s speech to AIPAC (front-page essay, March 30). Why is it that Bible-believing Christians seem to shine with such faith and certainty while even Orthodox rabbis (forget about Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) tend to speak in muted tones, full of nuance and shades of gray?
   I’ve often said that if it were possible to hook people up to a machine that gauged true faith and religious sincerity, fundamentalist Christians would put Orthodox Jews to shame. Most of us talk a good game, and we’ve got the rituals down pat, but in the face of adversity and trial we tend to become as anxiety-ridden and fearful as any atheist or agnostic. Our faith in Hashem suddenly is revealed for what it is – so much lip service, a necessary prelude to the gossip, schnapps and herring so many of us really come to shul for.

Harold Diamondstein

(Via E-mail)


Hurray For Hagee (II)

   I’m tempted to say that Rev. Hagee’s unabashed, unapologetic, full-throated defense of Israel should be required reading by every pulpit rabbi and Jewish organizational official in America. But then I recall reading in several news accounts of the AIPAC convention that while Rev. Hagee’s speech was generally well received, and at several points drew sustained ovations, his references to Torah and religion were met with mere scattered light applause and even awkward silence.
   Whether it’s an AIPAC conference or any other organizational event dedicated to Jewish or Israel causes, you can be sure the machers gathered there will be the types who are uncomfortable with, if not actually hostile to, religious belief. (I wonder how many of those who attended the AIPAC forum are intermarried.)
   As long as American Jewry remains the most secular religious/ethnic group in the country, devoted to every liberal cause under the sun and proudly disdainful of Orthodox Jews and believing Christians, all the AIPAC conferences in the world won’t help us as we intermarry and assimilate ourselves out of existence.

Miriam Schulweiss

New York, NY


Hurray For Hagee (III)
   Pastor Hagee should be lauded for his speech at the recent AIPAC policy conference. His fervent support for Israel and the Jewish people is most reassuring and appreciated.
   Despite the fact that Pastor Hagee’s speech was met with an enthusiastic reception by the AIPAC membership, when he said there is “the Torah way and then the wrong way,” the remark drew only a lukewarm response from the audience. It appears Pastor Hagee was one of the few people at the conference who actually embraces the teachings of the Torah.
   It’s clear that Pastor Hagee was the shining star at the AIPAC conference. This is a man who is not afraid to intone the name of God, to boldly and courageously call the enemies of the Jewish people evil perpetrators. This is a man who embraces God’s word and reveres the Torah. The AIPAC membership and the Jewish people can learn a valuable and important lesson from him.

Fern Sidman

Brooklyn, NY


Saudi Plan Spells Israel’s Demise


   Re Caroline Glick’s March 30 column (“The Saudi Plan To Destroy Israel”):

   Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal has declared that the “Lords of War” will decide Israel’s future if Israel does not accept the Saudi proposal that Israel return to its 1967 borders and that East Jerusalem will become the capital of a Palestinian State. It is reasonable to assume that Saudi Arabia intends “1967 borders” to mean that the Golan would be returned to Syria. The Saudi also said that every Arab country will formally recognize Israel if Israel accepts his offer.
   Sixty-nine years ago (1938), Hitler uttered almost the same words when he said that unless Germany were given the Sudetenland, Europe would face war. After the Munich pact was signed, Hitler’s said there would be decades of peace. Several months later, he started World War II by attacking Poland.
   The Saudi plan will have Hizbullah in its tunnels facing Israel from Lebanon, Syria in the Golan from where it fired artillery into Israel from 1948 until 1967, and the new State of Palestine with a government controlled by Hamas which has promised to destroy Israel.
   We should remember that the Palestine Liberation Organization’s constitution calling for the destruction of Israel was created three years before Israel had the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In addition, non-Arab Iran has publicly declared on many occasions that Israel must be destroyed.
   If any Israeli government agrees to the Saudi plan, it might as well negotiate Israel’s demise, because the implementation of the Saudi plan is tantamount to Israel’s destruction.

William K. Langfan

Palm Beach, FL


Thrilled With Glick

   I love the addition of Caroline Glick’s monthly column. I read her Jerusalem Post columns all the time, and was thrilled when she began writing columns especially for The Jewish Press. Her latest was carefully argued and, unfortunately, all too accurate in its assessment.
   One would have thought that after Oslo and the second Intifada, Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, would no longer be such suckers for Arab double talk and false promises of peace. Sadly, we are proving that the idea that Jews are smarter than other people is just a myth. For every Einstein, Freud and Salk, we have a thousand Olmerts, Beilins and Foxmans.

Paul Steinemann

(Via E-Mail)


Recognizing Mistakes
   I know it’s very difficult for both governments and people to admit they’ve made mistakes. So while a public admission by Israel that it made a mistake in Gaza is still not forthcoming, everyone now realizes that the forcible removal of thousands of Jews from Gush Katif and the four settlements in Samaria was a horrible error.
   The government itself now is trying to do things differently. The organizers of the recent march on Homesh succeeded in demonstrating to the good people of Tel Aviv, Hadera and all the areas in between how vulnerable they would be even to a non-nuclear rocket attack from Homesh – which dominates the area so completely that any rocket launching from the area could perhaps annihilate the entire coastal plain.
   Things have changed in Israel. What people could not comprehend two years ago they now seem to fully understand. There can be no peace at any price. The people of Israel are brothers. The divisions that separate us are not as important as the fact that we are all marching together in this great historical journey of the Jewish people.

   Our destiny is to be together, even if we march under our own separate banners as the Tribes of Israel did. We must never separate. We are the children of Israel and both this season of freedom and the hope of Eretz Yisrael should unite us as never before.

Toby Willig




Moment Of Silence


   I was impressed with Rabbi Shea Hecht’s article on the importance of a moment of silence being implemented in public schools (“A Silent But Effective Crimebuster,” op-ed, March 23). Aside from the halachic directive to promote fulfillment of the Seven Noahide Laws, Rabbi Hecht quotes evidence that this indeed seems to have made a difference in juvenile behavior in the states where it is mandated.
   I would like to congratulate The Jewish Press for carrying the article, and for covering this issue.

Rabbi Shmuel Lew

London, UK



Torah Without Derech Eretz


      There’s an Orthodox shul two houses from my home. When congregants enter the shul, their parked cars occasionally block access to my driveway or the driveways of my Jewish and gentile neighbors. The halachas that are trampled on by such behavior are too numerous to mention in this short letter, but here are a few that come to mind: breaking the law of the land; committing a chillul Hashem; and causing a sakanah because injury or even death can occur if someone can’t get his car out in an emergency.
      What if a driveway is that of a Hatzolah member who has to rush to an emergency, or a man who has to rush his child to the hospital, or just a person needing to drive to work to earn his parnassah? Do these congregants want to wait until someone dies before they repent?
      Additionally, the mitzvah of prayer that they are so eager to pursue is nullified, since a mitzvah cannot be obtained though an aveirah. Halachically, they would be better off if they both didn’t daven and didn’t block people’s driveways.
      When illegal parking occurs, I contact the police. I also perform the mitzvah of rebuke by telling congregants how sinful it is to illegally park their cars this way. They respond by mocking me, laughing at me, and even accusing me of not having a Jewish heart because I called the police.
      This is not just an issue between a congregant and God, it’s also an issue between people. This is not just an aveirah that can be forgiven by prayer on Kol Nidre night, as a sin against one’s fellow man must first be forgiven by the aggrieved party before it is forgiven by Hashem.

      These congregants not only lack the decency to speak up to fellow congregants to stop this illegal parking, they don’t have the fiber to defend the halacha they profess to follow.

      So what is one to do? I can only speak for myself – to stay close to Hashem I must stay away from shuls like this (which, unfortunately, are quite numerous) and from the people in them.

Harvey Bookman

Brooklyn, NY

Letters to the Editor

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