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. The battles, as in every other tract of this sort, are followed by the Jews accepting Jesus.

Hagee is a prominent promoter of the theology known as dispensational premillennialism. It’s the same set of beliefs pushed in the Left Behind novels about the End, which sold in tens of millions of copies, the same beliefs preached by Endtimes populizer Hal Lindsey, by televangelist Jack Van Impe and radio preacher Chuck Missler. All push a “future history,” supposedly based on a literal reading of the Bible, that includes great suffering for all who do not accept their beliefs – but particularly, starkly, overwhelmingly for the Jews. In Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series , a critical development is a world dictator’s orders:

“I will sanction, condone, support, and reward the death of any Jew anywhere in the world,” he says. “Imprison them. Torture them. Humiliate them. Shame them. Blaspheme their god. Plunder everything they own. Nothing is more important.”

The dictator is a demonic character, the Antichrist, but his action is an essential step toward the Second Coming. The scenario, purportedly based on Scripture, allows the believer both to hope for the event and absolve himself, or herself, of responsibility. It’s the same guilt-free glorying in genocide that Hagee justified in his riff on the Holocaust:

That will be offensive to some people. Well, dear heart, be offended: I didn’t write it. Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth.

Regularly, such preachers talk about how they really love the Jews, even as they look forward to a second Holocaust. As Missler said in one lecture, claiming to interpret New Testament verses:

And those words echo in our ears as we think of Auschwitz, Dachau, the horrors of Europe in the 30s and 40s, and realize that what Jesus is saying is it’s going to be worse next time around, that that was just a prelude…

(For more on LaHaye’s vision and its political implications, see my article at the American Prospect. For more on the ideology of dispensationalists and their supposed support of Israel, see my book, The End of Days:Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount .)

If Sen. McCain really didn’t know about any of this before he pursued Hagee’s endorsement, at the very least it shows absolutely abysmal staff work and research. Utter incompetence is the most charitable interpretation one can give. A more reasonable explanation is that McCain was demonstrating the audacity of cynicism.

Ever since Hagee and his fellow travelers started forging links with Jewish groups, some Jews have dismissed their apocalyptic views. Their attitude has been, “We don’t believe this will happen, so what do we care? Right now they’re helping us.” But when people hope for the end of history, they are saying the world is broken and must be fixed. Their vision of how it will be fixed tells you what they think is broken. In the dispensationalist vision of a repaired world, Jews will die or convert. That is, the continued existence of Jews who do not accept Jesus is an unbearable flaw in our world as it is.

At the same time, their reading of the Bible tells them that Jews must return to their homeland and gain independence before Jesus can return. So they support Israel. Hagee’s twist in the sermon that just came to light is that he also justified the real, historical Holocaust – not some imagined future genocide – as serving God’s purpose of returning the Jews to their land so that the End can come.

I should note that the theology implies that all Jews should be ‘ingathered.’ In his 1996 book, “Beginning of the End,” Hagee wrote: “Jeremiah declared that the Jews must return to Israel before Messiah comes.”

So: What methods for encouraging American Jews to return to their land would Rev. Hagee justify as God’s will? Just asking. What he’s already said shows how thin, how blurred, the line is between theological philo-semitism and old-fashioned theological anti-Semitism.

I would suggest that the problem of what Hagee believes about Jews, and what he’s willing to justify, should be raised again and again to Jews who have been willing to build alliances with him: Joe Lieberman , AIPAC , Malcolm Hoenlein (the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations).

In fact, much as I hate to admit it, Jews do owe John McCain thanks: By seeking and getting Hagee’s endorsement, the good senator has finally forced a spotlight on what the pastor thinks, and may have set off a needed debate on the alliance with him and others of his school.

8 thoughts on “Hagee, McCain, Aipac: The Audacity of Cynicism”

  1. Yasser Arafat, whom Leah Rabin called “a family friend”, and Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres called “our peace partner”, had his government-controlled media call Jews “decendents of pigs and monkeys” and recruited Palestinians to be suicide bombers, (again, I am referring to Arafat’s government-controlled media which only sent out information and messages that he approved of). Arafat sat in a mosque in Gaza and, in his presence, the Imam said it is the religious duty of every good Muslim to kill Jews. Mike Wallace of the “60 Minutes” television program confronted Arafat with this and Arafat’s reply was “I wasn’t listening”, even though in the Arab world, no preacher in a mosque would ever say anything that contradicted goverment policy, particularly in the presence of the “rais”.

    Right now, Syrian goverment-controlled media is saying the same things about Jews and Israel and yet Olmert now is offering the Golan Heights to him and many “Progressives” are cheering him on.

    So why is Hagee unacceptable to “Progressives”, but Arafat’s hate-mongering was overlooked by these same people?

  2. Mr. Ben David: Your just plain twisted. Arafat is dead , this is about a “hater” still going around appearing before Pro- Israel groups in the United States. Sending 6 million dollars to the settlement people in Israel. Churchill promised the British “nothing but blood ,sweat, and tears” I don’t think Ben-Gurion thought there be 60 years of it. I don’t think hate-mongering from any group should be overlooked even that put out by certain Israeli groups.

    On another point 3 billion of our tax dollars go to Israel every year with no strings which I am in agreement with except the ” no strings attached”.It’s my money too; thus , it is a cost and I want some sort of accounting.

  3. Mr. Ben-David, Arafat is now dead, but Hagee is still alive – and is being given enthusiastic support by Joe Lieberman and other leaders of the American Jewish community. The topic under discussion is not Syria or Olmert, but Hagee and other American preachers like him.

    A couple of years ago David Harris (American Jewish Committee exec. director) came to speak in Ithaca, and I asked him about the embrace by community leaders of people like Hagee, because I was concerned that we should not be getting into bed with people who sought our death or conversion in their end-times scenario. He basically said that he didn’t worry about that, what he cared about was their support of Israel. That struck me as an amazingly short-sighted response. Shouldn’t we care about the motives of people who supposedly support Israel? Shouldn’t we care about the role we’re supposed to play in their end-time scenario?

    What if Israel did decide to hand back the West Bank to the Palestinians? Or the Golan to Syria? Aside from the question of whether Israel should in fact do those things, what do you think Hagee’s response would be to those actions? Would he continue to support Israel? I somehow doubt it, because it would mean that Israel is failing to live up to his end-time scenario.

    I think the leaders of Israel should make decisions about Israel’s future based on what they think is best for Israel, not based on the ravings of someone like Hagee.

  4. John McCain was shocked, shocked to know that there were horrid thoughts going on around Rev. Hagee and so was Rev Hagee now as well.. but I do not understand why? After all what makes any of these persons think they are God’s, not subject to the citizen’s reproach?

    ”Keep State & Church separate, or they will intertwine and once they are merged, vice enters and corruption begins” ? “And I agree, 100% of all Churches too should be investigated as should all politicians (those who govern/lead through laws) even in regards to what, if any, “crossovers” have occurred that are violations of State law.”

    Some people think that Separation of Church and State politics, is the main issue that will help to stop the acts of much too many bad guys in politics and religion.. There are bad guys, bad Ministers now too continually in or out of relgion in fact.

    Separation of Church and State politics, and related corruption is just a very small small portion, issue.. Rather all major perversions, corruptions by anyone, politicians, priests, pastors are, is unacceptable anywhere and at anytime too. For both politicians, Pastors and cops all civil and public servants too are here to help look after the good welfare of the citizens and if they are not doing that JOB NOW properly they all should be helped to become unemployed for sure BY THEIR CORRUPTIONS, AB– USES BEING EXPOSED TO ALL..

    Religious or not is not the issue.. but the second law of engineering thermodynamics is, energy goes from a higher level to a lower level, it degenerates, meaning even water unrestrained flows downhill, or 30 percent of all people need to be put into a real jail it seems before they will stop their wrong doings and start to do good.. reality.. for self supervision or self regulation does not work, crudely it is just masturbation.. In reality too many people left on their own will continue to cheat, lies, steal, abuse others, the pastors and cops, politicians included now. They all need to be regulated, supervised by the governments and some now rightfully even arrested too. A man’s enemies, bullies and thieves will be those persons even from his own family are still a reality too.

    The really bad persons unless they are exposed, punished will likely never change for the good on their own in fact? Public exposure and prosecution of the guilty works best for everyone. Now I have been writing letters to news editors, governments. for that is part of their job now too, and I have helped in exposing the bad guys and the bad corporations for decades too and thus rightfully helping to get rightfully deal with some of the really unacceptable bad guys and so should we all..

    Us Senator John McCain had fallen under condemnation by the news media for accepting the endorsement of Rev John Hagee . Wikipedia describes “John C. Hagee [as] the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational charismatic church with more than 19,000 active members.”

    Rev John Hagee clearly states that he is not anti catholic or antigay but he is Anti Semitism and he is working on behalf of Israel and this highlights his belief.. but his dispensational theology support of Israel are not substantiated by the New Testament still. God loves both Jew and Arab as well as all of the Gentiles.

    The criticism of Rev Hagee, right or wrong is just the tip of the iceberg of discontentment against too many so called Christian pastors in America. I know I pastored a church for a few years, and in the last 50 years I have encountered too many many mostly bad pastors, and 70 percent of evangelical pastors have admitted they had committed adultery and they even do counsel divorce for a start. The false misappropriation of funds in many churches in north America is so common so I had rightfully asked even the US government to investigate all of the churches- Pentecostal, Catholic, Baptist for their possible misappropriation of funds equally, annually in fact months ago too.

    For a start most churches ask you to the, give ten percent of your income to the church, but tithing is also an old testament concept and not enforceable in the new testament. In the old testament the tithers, and those who received the tithers had to insure that 1/7 of the donations were given to the local poor people. So I asked any church that advocated tithe that they prove as well they have kept this Biblical requirements, for almost none do it for it start. On top of that any clergy receiving tithing in the old testament was not allowed to own any real estate , tangible property too. If you are going to preach the law here on tithing too, then you yourself should observe all of it, not just mostly steal the tithe.

    It seems these days Pastors, cops, politicians, Ministers tend to be still next equally all bad if left on their own, unsupervised?

    And Jesus never sold one Sermon of his, nor the Apostles… so I rightfully cannot stand those greedy, money lusting charlatans who clearly try to make money by selling Christian literature, tapes, music, or what ever on the subject of Prophecy, healing, etc., .. and no matter what their excuses are now too.. Jesus said as you have freely received so freely give. And that is what I have done the last 4 decades too… and so should we all, trusting in the Faith for God to supply our needs, not begging for money, or wrongfully stealing by pretending to be a non profitable tax exempt corporation, organization basically so not to pay taxes as well.. How greedy can you get and pretend it to be Christian now too is the game many wrongfully play too even pastors….

    Now there is another common scam I do not like, groups, churches who often choose a valid cause, since the best way to catch fish, suckers is with live bait, and then do next do ask for related donations, money.. this advertised cause tends to be rather an inefficient self employment creation, and is not a real public services.. for to get most complaints, issues handled properly all you do generally have to do is to post it firstly on the net, and also write to the News media with copies to the elected officals


  5. Have any of you people actually read the Bible? If you read Daniel and Revelation, it clearly outlines the end-time events, specifically Revelation. If you choose to ignore what God has given you to read, that’s your choice. This is not about anybody hating or trying to undermine the Jewish people. It’s not about fulfilling anyone’s personal agenda. It is about what God has said would happen. All John Hagee, and others like him, are trying to do is bring awareness to what is taught from God’s Word. And, just as a side-bar, the refusal of the Jewish people to believe it is also written about in there. If you don’t believe it, go read it for yourself.

  6. What the Bible says is not the same as what the preacher says still too often

    not one New testament verse had predicted the return of the Jews to Israel in 1948 means the Jews are still doing their own thing

  7. I doubt if Hagee hates the Jews, but neverthless many Jews already believe in Jesus/Yeshua and there are at least three TV programs that I know of led by those of this background who are now what is commonly known as “Messianic Jewish”.
    If indeed Jesus is the Jew’s long awaited messiah (and that’s where strong disagreement comes in) then a conversion would be a fulfillment, not an assimilation.

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