On January 11, Albuquerque played host to A Night to Honor Israel, an expression of solidarity between Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the State of Israel. The event was co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM). John Hagee, CUFI’s founder, was principal speaker.
In the pages of the New Mexico Jewish Link and other venues, JFNM has repeatedly labeled critics of Israel’s decades-long, illegal Occupation as “Israel haters,” accusing these critics of anti-Semitism. The fact that some of the critics happened to be Jewish, some even reformed Zionists, has always been irrelevant to JFNM. How ironic, then, that in sponsoring this event, JFNM provided a platform for a man infamous for his anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Hagee, a “megachurch” pastor based in San Antonio, Texas, raises millions of dollars annually for Israel’s settlement enterprise on Palestinian land. He believes that the boundaries of Israel are set by God, that Judea and Samaria, otherwise known as the West Bank, are within these God-given boundaries and that these lands must be inhabited by Jews. This, of course, would require the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. One can argue that this viewpoint obstructs the chances for peace but it certainly doesn’t qualify as anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, though, Hagee is an exponent of the “End of Days,” when Jesus will return to Earth and non-believers, Jews included, will have to either convert to Christianity or fall into a lake of fire (Hell). Hagee further believes that the Jewish people are guilty of deicide – the murder of Christ – the one unpardonable sin. This belief has been at the heart of anti-Semitism for nearly two thousand years. Without this belief, Adolf Hitler might not have been able to rely on both the hatred and the silence of those who supported or closed their eyes to the evils of the Holocaust.
But most perniciously, Hagee has stated that the Nazis had operated on God’s behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. And, Hagee continues, Hitler was a “hunter,” sent by God to expedite His will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.
For the Jewish Federation of New Mexico to sponsor a man who compares Hitler and his subordinates to Moses betrays its profound confusion and ultimate support for the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestine. JFNM’s self-destructive alliance with blatantly anti-Semitic forces can only doom both Palestinians and Israelis to generations more of conflict, while, ironically, fomenting anti-Semitism worldwide and drawing the global community into this quagmire.
Furthermore, Christians who ignore the suffering of human beings with the same justification as the more fundamentalist of Jews – that “God gave the land to the Jewish [or chosen] people” – need to take a closer look at the teachings of Christ. Did Christ single out some for his blessing while ostracizing others? Did he teach hatred or did he teach love and compassion? And they need to look more deeply into their own hearts. Then they will discover that in denying the humanity of some they deny their own humanity.
Christians and Jews who proclaim a Jewish (and, for Christians, an eventual Christian) divine entitlement to the Holy Land must begin to understand that such thinking requires a divine abandonment of all who do not meet the definition of “Jewish” (and, eventually, “Christian”). Separative thinking is never divinely inspired. It is always narcissistically inspired; it is, in fact, the very antithesis of the unifying and all-encompassing nature of the divine.