By Max Blumenthal (parenthetical commentary mine)
I think there is a role for [Pastor John Hagee]. He has earned a certain recognition with the community because of his support for Israel.”–Anti-Defamation League national director Abe Foxman, 3/9/07
“It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day…”
–Pastor John Hagee, “Jerusalem Countdown,” pp. 92-93
It does not necessarily matter to AIPAC if you preach “New World Order/Illuminati” conspiracy theories involving “international bankers,” a classic coded anti-Semitic trope. Nor does it necessarily matter to them if the rhetoric you have spewed about the Holocaust sounds like a Christian version of Mahmoud Ahmadenijad. AIPAC doesn’t even necessarily care that you’ve lionized Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. What matters more to AIPAC and its allies — all that matters perhaps — is that you back the hardline Israeli government without reservation…., and it doesn’t hurt that you lust for war with Iran. This crackpot “New World Order” video’s creator, Pastor John Hagee, was received with a standing ovation at AIPAC’s annual convention
It should come as no surprise then that an anti-Semitic Holocaust apologist like Pastor John Hagee was invited to AIPAC, and was given a raucous ovation. As I reported for the Nation last year, through his new lobbying organization, Christians United for Israel, Hagee is emerging as the most influential leader of the Christian Zionist movement, which has bolstered the Israeli right with the grassroots muscle of the evangelical right. I go on to explain in detail that Hagee is a dangerous crackpot whose stated desire is to see Israel engage in an apocalyptic nuclear war with Iran (like many of our so-called Christian AIPAC “friends.”)
Hagee does not agonize over the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Jews who would die in such a conflict. Instead, he celebrates this scenario as the pretext for the return of JC. “The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching … rejoice and be exceedingly glad, the best is yet to be,” Hagee writes in his latest pulp prophecy bestseller, “Jerusalem Countdown.” (Israel must be in Jewish hands for Jesus to return to Earth. Once Jesus returns, three quarters of all Jews will be exterminated. Will the remaining 1/4 still be AIPAC supporters?)
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bruce Wilson, who’s been blogging up a storm about Hagee at Talk2Action, has dredged up an even more disturbing passage from “Jerusalem Countdown.” Says Hagee:
“It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day….
How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for His chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings He had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come…. it rises from the judgment of God uppon his rebellious chosen people.” [“Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude To War”, paperback edition, pages 92 and 93]
( With friends like these, who needs enemies?)
There’s more. Journalist Michelle Goldberg, one of the keenest observers of the Christian right around, reported for the Huffington Post that Hagee suggested in “Jerusalem Countdown” that Adolph Hitler was a divine agent sent by God to drive the Jews back to Israel in order to fulfill biblical prophecy. Hagee writes:
The Bible is a book of parables and word pictures describing principles of truth from God to man. The prophet Jeremiah puts his pen to parchment and paints a vivid picture of the human agendas God intended to use to bring the Jewish people back to Israel.
“But now I will send for many fishermen” declares the LORD, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.”
— Jeremiah 16:16 NIV
“I believe this verse indicates that the positive comes before the negative. Grace and mercy come before judgment. The fishermen come before the hunters. First, God sent the fishermen to Israel. These were the Zionists, men like Theodor Herzl who called for the Jews of Europe and the world to come to Palestine to establish the Jewish state. The Jews were encouraged to escape while there was still time. The situation for Jews in Europe would only get worse, not better.
A fisherman is one who draws his target toward him with bait. Herzl and his fellow Zionists were God’s fishermen, calling the sons and daughters of Abraham home. Herzl was deeply disappointed that the Jews of the world did not respond in greater numbers.
God then sent the hunters. The hunter is one who pursues his target with force and fear. No one could see the horror of the Holocaust coming, but the force and fear of Hitler’s Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have — Israel. I stand amazed at the accuracy of God’s Word and its relevance for our time. I am stricken with awe and wonder at His boundless love for Israel and the Jewish people and His divine determination that the promise He gave Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become reality.” (This tripe gives new meaning to the phrase “burning a village to save it.”)
Certainly AIPAC and allies like Abe Foxman, who says “there is role for” Hagee, were aware of the pastor’s anti-Semitic statements. But they have their priorities. Foxman, for his part, has been rehearsing his Roy Cohn impersonation with increasing enthusiasm.
In the type of stunt that is becoming all too familiar, in October, 2006, Foxman pressured the Polish Consulate to cancel a lecture by renowned historian Tony Judt entitled, “The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy.” After torpedoeing the event, Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk told a reporter, “I don’t have to subscribe to the First Amendment.” Kasprzyk’s move was hailed by American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris, who exclaimed, “Bravo to them for doing the right thing.”
To Foxman and company, critics of the Israel Lobby pose a dire threat to the safety and well-being of the Jewish people, even — or perhaps, especially — if they are Jewish themselves. But as for those like Hagee who blame the Jews for their own persecution and celebrate the Holocaust, well, it all depends on how useful they are.
(Note: Judgt is not renowned. But freedom – being free to say that you cannot be criticized, being free to criticize other religions – can (or at least should) come at a price: the bigots must be allowed their say. No, there’s no “obligation” to debate these people, but it is disingenuous to use the Constitution both as a sword and a shield. As William Brennan said in Texas v. Johnson, as he struck down a law making it a crime to burn the American flag,
“The way to preserve the flag’s special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong. We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned by, as one witness here did, according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.”