Sunday, March 11, 2007

Why they love Israel

A few nights ago I was hanging out at a bonfire at the beach and we were commisserating about our remaining conservative friends and how completely bereft at sea they seem these days, clinging desperately to whatever shreds of right-wing flotsam that goes floating past. Patrick, a local lawyer, relayed the story of his childhood friend who now lived in Chicago, who remains devoted to the Bush administration and the conservative-movement agenda generally in large part because of his Jewish heritage.

"Everything for him is about defending Israel, no matter what," said Patrick, "which is why he always defends these right-wing religious nutcases."

Some day, I told Patrick, you might want to point out to your friend that the main reason those good Christians love Israel is that they want to see it all blown up in the Apocalypse. What kind of allies are those, exactly?

Someone should point the same thing out to the folks at the American Israel Political Action Committee, which calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby." At its annual conference this year, one of its keynote speakers will be the Rev. John Hagee, who will join scholar Michael Oren onstage Sunday night to "explore the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East and how Americans from all faiths can find common cause in supporting Israel."

As Bruce Wilson at Talk2Action points out, this is nothing short of just plain nuts:
[A] close analysis of Pastor John Hagee's views seems to indicate that Pastor Hagee holds beliefs about liberal Jews that mirror sentiments to be found on conspiratorial websites promoting the debunked Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion and also the beliefs of the KKK and American Neo-Nazi groups such as Christian Identity. Anti Defamation League head Abraham Foxman has told The Jewish Week that "there is a role" for Pastor John Hagee at the AIPAC summit because of Hagee's support for Israel.

...[P]astor Hagee blames the Holocaust on Jews themselves, states that Nazi persecution of Jews was God's way of driving Jews to Israel, seems to blame Jews for the death of Jesus Christ, holds that Jews cannot get into heaven, calls liberal Jews "poisoned" and "spiritually blind", believes that the preemptive nuclear attack on Iran that he advocates will lead to a Mideast conflict that will kill most Jews in Israel and perhaps also lead to the Nuclear destruction of the East and West coasts of the United States of America ...

Awhile back, Sarah Posner at AlterNet explored Hagee's teachings in some detail:
At the center of it all is Pastor John Hagee, a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. While Hagee has long prophesized about the end times, he ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book's publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which, as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said would cause "a political earthquake."

Hagee covers much of his eagerness to promote Jews as apocalyptic martyrs with unusually strong preachments regarding the place that Jews enjoy in the holy order of things -- at one point, he even taught that Jews enjoyed special dispensation from God that relieved them of the need to believe in Jesus as the Savior in order to reach heaven (though he now disavows such teaching). His purpose in proposing aggressive military action in the Middle East, though, is his belief that it will bring about the End of Days:
When addressing audiences receptive to Scriptural prophecy, however, Hagee welcomes the coming confrontation. He argues that a strike against Iran will cause Arab nations to unite under Russia's leadership, as outlined in chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel, leading to an "inferno [that] will explode across the Middle East, plunging the world toward Armageddon." In Hagee's telling, Israel has no choice but to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities, with or without America's help. The strike will provoke Russia -- which wants Persian Gulf oil -- to lead an army of Arab nations against Israel. Then God will wipe out all but one-sixth of the Russian-led army, as the world watches "with shock and awe," he says, lending either a divine quality to the Bush administration phrase or a Bush-like quality to God's wrath.

But Hagee doesn't stop there. He adds that Ezekiel predicts fire "upon those who live in security in the coastlands." From this sentence, he concludes that there will be judgment upon all who stood by while the Russian-led force invaded Israel, and issues a stark warning to the United States to intervene: "Could it be that America, who refuses to defend Israel from the Russian invasion, will experience nuclear warfare on our east and west coasts?" He says yes, citing Genesis 12:3, in which God said to Israel: "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you."

Of course, those two coasts are where all the sinners in Hagee's universe exist. This is military strategy straight from Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

What kind of ally is it, exactly, who roots for you to take steps that will result in your all-but-certain incineration?

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