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When Will Jews Repudiate Hagee's Convoluted 'Support?'
By now, the McCain-Hagee incident has run its course. Pastor John Hagee has been revealed as a theological boor and John McCain has deftly, if belatedly, stepped away from the Hagee embrace he had earlier so assiduously sought and so gratefully welcomed.
"Boor" is a rough word, I know.
So let Hagee speak for himself in his book Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude to War: "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. ... 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 upon his rebellious chosen people."
What led to the McCain crisis was the discovery of a recording of a Hagee sermon from the late 1990s, in which Hagee claims that the Holocaust was prophesied in the Bible by the Prophet Jeremiah.
So this self-proclaimed philosemite believes we brought all the centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust, on ourselves. Or he believes that God created Hitler to inflict divine punishment upon us. That was the occasion for McCain's "I am shocked, shocked" repudiation of Hagee's endorsement.
End of story? Hardly. What happens to Hagee now?
Christians United for Israel, an organization founded by Hagee, is planning to hold its Third Annual Washington-Israel Summit towards the end of July. Among the currently scheduled speakers are not only Hagee and Gary Bauer, but also Mideast think-thank scholar Daniel Pipes, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Charles Jacobs of the David Project, radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, political analyst William Kristol, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sallai Meridor, Israel's ambassador to the United States.
How many of these will now, in light of the new information about Hagee's beliefs, cancel out? Or will they twist and turn to rationalize their continuing support for this false witness?
And what, if anything, will AIPAC, where Hagee was just last year a featured speaker at its annual Washington conference, say about the pastor? Talk about rapture: The assembled AIPAC delegates responded to Hagee's provocative rhetoric with nine standing ovations, as if they'd been on the brink of starvation until he tossed them his red meat. My favorite? Hagee: "It is 1938. Iran is Germany. And Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler." Audience: Standing ovation. "It is 1938" as an applause line? Go figure.
For 26 years now, Hagee has been sponsoring, in cities across the country, an event titled "A Night to Stand for Israel."
Between Jan. 8, 2007 and May 15, 2008, there have been 39 such evenings, typically attended by more than a thousand evangelical Christians and almost always a jingo of Jews, usually including the local federation executive and a nonplussed rabbi. And at every one, a check handed over from CUFI to the local Jewish federation for one form or another of welfare work in Israel. What more than we now have before us is required in order for us to refuse this walk-on part in another's noxious melodrama?
This was Hagee at the opening CUFI conference in 2006: "The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West ... a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation [...] and [the] Second Coming of Christ.")
For that matter, when will Israel stop rolling out the red carpet for Hagee and his followers? Other pastors have resigned their ministries in disgrace over lesser offenses -- say, for example, for engaging the services of a male prostitute. Yet here is Hagee, busy making cheap whores out of as many Jews as he can snare (after all, we need all the friends we can get, right?), and so far, at least, only John McCain has pushed him away.
McCain's Hagee problem has been resolved, even if there's a sour aftertaste. But our Hagee problem has yet to be addressed. For in addition to "standing for Israel" there is also, or ought to be, something called "self-respect."
Leonard Fein is a Boston-based columnist.