Apocalypse II: Hagee Doesn’t Seek the End? Riiight.

Does Rev. John Hagee – friend of Joe Lieberman and erstwhile endorser of John McCain – believe the End is Nigh? Is that what’s behind his oft-proclaimed love for Israel? Does he expect horrible suffering for Jews during the apocalypse that he yearns for?

I would have thought these were easy test questions, to be answered, “Yes, yes and yes.” But a recent news report put out by the JTA newswire for Jewish papers asserts otherwise. “The pastor has, in fact, repeatedly disavowed End of Days theology…” it says. It quoted David Brog — executive director of Hagee’s organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) — as saying that “Hagee’s theological musings have little to do with why he promotes support for Israel.”

The JTA report dealt with a survey commissioned by J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, on U.S. Jewish attitudes toward Hagee and Lieberman.

According to the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.5 percent, Lieberman scored an unfavorable rating of 48 percent among U.S. Jews, compared to a favorable rating of 37 percent. Hagee… fared even worse: The pastor registered a 7 percent favorable rating and 57 percent unfavorable…

According to J Street’s executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, part of Hagee’s problem with American Jews is that he brings a strong religious sensibility to his politicking.

But in the article, Brog gets the last word.

So where does Hagee’s interest in Israel come from?

Read moreApocalypse II: Hagee Doesn’t Seek the End? Riiight.

Apocalypse I: McCain’s Ringtone for the Christian Right

Let’s update political jargon. Writers still use “dog whistle” for a political message heard clearly by one audience but entirely missed by everyone else. That’s so twentieth-century. Please update to “teenage ring-tone”: Young ears hear it. Older ones don’t. Students yes, profs no. You can pick the tone that will be heard by the age group you want. But be careful: Some people have young ears.

The political equivalent is John McCain’s invidious “He’s the One” ad. Ostensibly, it merely suggests that anyone who inspires people must be a poor leader. (Well, don’t expect a Republican to remember FDR or JFK. But what about Churchill?)

But the message is really intended to ring loudly for dispensationalists, the subset of conservative evangelicals who are looking forward to the Rapture, the Tribulation, the whole timeline of approaching apocalypse.

Read moreApocalypse I: McCain’s Ringtone for the Christian Right

Divine Press Office: Defense Team Fired

"The Tzvi Yehudah tape" – that’s the name my son immediately gave the recording of John Hagee explaining the Holocaust as God’s way of forcing the Jews to return. He was referring to Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, the spiritual father of the Gush Emunim movement.

Tzvi Yehudah Kook was the teacher of many of the rabbis who have continued to created the theology of the religious right in Israel – a theology in which all political developments point to approaching redemption and in which Jewish possession of the entire Land of Israel has been transformed into the supreme commandment. He is the central figure in propagating a radical, theologized nationalism as Judaism.

And my son is right: Tzvi Yehudah Kook gave practically the same theological explanation of the Holocaust as Hagee does:

Read moreDivine Press Office: Defense Team Fired

Joe Lieberman’s Pastor

A quick update on John Hagee: According to various reports , Joe Lieberman is planning an encore at this July’s Christian United for Israel “summit” in Washington, delivering the keynote address. Last year he spoke at the same event and called Hagee an “ish elohim,” a man of God, comparing him to Moses.

John McCain finally had the good sense to drop Hagee, at least publicly; Joe is still ready to give his seal of kashrut to a brand of support for Israel that includes explaining the Holocaust as God’s way of chasing the Jews back to the Land. (In that light, it’s not surprising that Hagee does not want Israel to give up West Bank land for peace. Why should a few more Jewish shahids matter?)

Also reportedly scheduled to appear at Hagee’s fest is Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat whose district includes Riverdale.

J Street is running an online petition campaign to convince Lieberman not to go. Here’s the link . If you live in Riverdale, you might want to drop a line to Rep. Engel about his plans.

Read moreJoe Lieberman’s Pastor

Hagee, McCain, Aipac: The Audacity of Cynicism

John McCain was shocked, shocked to know that there were horrid thoughts going on around Rev. Hagee’s brain about the positive side of the Holocaust. These comments, from a sermon on how God used Hitler to get the Jews to return to their land, in case you missed the news all weekend, include:

“How is God going to bring them back to the land? The answer is fishers and hunters,” Mr. Hagee said, referring to how Jews ended up in the modern state of Israel. “A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and forces you. Hitler was a hunter.”

As we know, McCain actively pursued Hagee’s endorsement. As the NY Times notes,

At a speech last year before Mr. Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, he thanked Mr. Hagee for his “spiritual guidance to politicians like me” and said, “It’s hard to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan.”

Hagee has every effort to make his views public via every media available. His comments expressing empathy for Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin appeared in a book that became a bestseller in its market. The same book looks forward to an apocalypse in which enough blood is shed on Israeli soil to create a river of blood 200 miles long. One of the scholars who introduced me to this literature correctly spoke of the “pornographic violence” of the visions of the end promoted by Hagee and others of his school.

Read moreHagee, McCain, Aipac: The Audacity of Cynicism

Obama. What’s Complicated Here?

Gershom Gorenberg

Dan Kurtzer, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and an Orthodox Jew, is in Jerusalem for the 60th anniversary celebrations. This morning my wife heard him being interviewed on Israeli Radio, in Hebrew, about the U.S. election. Kurtzer explained that he’s backing Barack Obama.

This was not exactly a revelation. Kurtzer has explained his reasons for backing Obama at length . Here’s some key snippets:

…we have had eight years of disaster with respect to our foreign policy, and I have to share with you as an analyst, we have had eight years that have [compromised] the security of the state of Israel.
An administration that has ignored the search for peace in the Middle East to a point where you have chaos in the Palestinian Authority, and you have a sham process called the Annapolis process, in which our Secretary of State, whom I admire personally, travels to region and announces when she gets there that she is bringing no new ideas.
You have an administration that hasn’t engaged in the peace process, and so inherited a bad situation in 2001 and is leaving it in a worse situation in 2008. And you have an administration that has gotten us engaged in a war in Iraq that has not only cost American lives… but it’s now being called the $3 trillion war…And I would share with you that the cost to the security of Israel is incalculable.

Read moreObama. What’s Complicated Here?

Thanks to Our Readers

Readers’ notes in the last few days include these tidbits:

  • Moshe Feiglin, head of the Manhigut Yehudit (“Jewish Leadership”) faction in the Likud, has been touring the U.S., speaking at synagogues such as Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck. Manhigut Yehudit’s website includes a draft constitution in Hebrew with such features as a rabbinical council that could overturn all laws. In an interview with the fawning Jewish Press, Feiglin said that “There is no such thing as innocent civilians” and said that as prime minister he would have responded to the Merkaz Harav terror attack last month by acting against the attacker’s entire village. Feiglin’s support in the Likud comes entirely from the far-right activists he has signed up as party members, to the embarrassment of the rest of the party. But what are American congregations doing hosting someone who can be called, with understatement, a fascist?
  • Thank God for the farm lobby:

    Read moreThanks to Our Readers

Are You Listening, Joe Lieberman?

Kudos to Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, who has publicly spoken out against Jewish political cooperation with Christian Zionists, their most prominent organization – Christians United for Israel – and its leader, John Hagee:

The heart of Pastor Hagee’s message is to be found in these words: “Stop giving the land away. The land belongs to you. Keep it.”

…mainstream Christian Zionists are, by their own admission, not “”advocates” of Israel but “Biblical advocates” of Israel, and this means that they oppose any territorial concessions by the Government of Israel for any reason whatsoever. It follows that their vision of Israel rejects a two-state solution, rejects the possibility of a democratic Israel,

Read moreAre You Listening, Joe Lieberman?

Excuse me, Ariel isn’t in Israel

The Government Press Office was kind enough to send me a notice from the Municipality of Ariel:

Some 600 American Christian Zionists, led by well-known Evangelical leader, Pastor John Hagee, will arrive in Israel this week to express their support for Israel on the Jewish Homeland’s 60th year of Independence. One of the highlights of their visit will take place on Thursday evening, April 3rd in Ariel…

Read moreExcuse me, Ariel isn’t in Israel