Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
Our World: Jews united for Israel\'s friends
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a humiliating setback this week in his quest for international legitimacy. Ahmadinejad is expected to arrive in Rome this week to participate in a UN summit on the global food crisis (which has been caused by the rise in oil prices that Ahmadinejad is so pleased to have had a role in fomenting).
Ahmadinejad was hoping that while in the Italian capital he would be able to have a photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI. To secure the meeting, Ahmadinejad - who has called for all nations to convert to Islam or be destroyed (except for the Jews who can do nothing to avoid destruction) - has been sweet talking the Vatican for months. In his latest move, during a meeting in April with Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, the Vatican\'s representative in Iran, Ahmadinejad referred to the Vatican as a "positive force for justice and peace."
But Benedict was unmoved by Ahmadinejad\'s flattery. His request for an audience with the pontiff was unceremoniously rejected.
Not surprisingly, the Israeli government has nothing to say about Benedict\'s humiliation of Ahmadinejad. This is unsurprising because the Olmert-Livni-Barack-Yishai government has never bothered to pay attention to anything that the pope does. His bold moves in recent years to challenge Islamic leaders to repudiate murder and coercion in the name of Allah have elicited no support and indeed no reaction of any kind from Jerusalem.
The Olmert-Livni-Barack-Yishai government\'s neglect of the Vatican is regrettable, but it is par for the course for this government which has limited Israel\'s foreign policy to appeasing Palestinian terrorists and kowtowing to the State Department. The best that can be said for this state of affairs is that at least Israel\'s neglect of the Catholic Church - like its neglect of Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Australia - is benign. In contrast, the treatment that the Vatican has received from some American Jewish leaders has been far from neglectful and far from benign.
RATHER THAN stand with the Catholic church as Benedict moves boldly against radical Islam, American Jewish leaders led by ADL Director Abe Foxman have been attacking the church for its theological decisions. Last year, fresh from his bitter campaign against Mel Gibson\'s movie about Jesus, Foxman began targeting the Vatican for its decision to permit wider use of the traditional Latin Mass which includes a prayer for Jews to convert to Christianity.
While it is unpleasant for Jews to consider millions of Catholics praying for us to abandon our faith, it is unclear why what they say in their churches should interest us so long as they aren\'t demanding our presence at disputations or forcibly converting us. After all, in our prayers, we explicitly reject their faith as false. And this is to be expected.
Every religion asserts itself as the one true faith and demeans all others as false. As the American Jewish radio host Dennis Prager noted at a lecture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Santa Barbara, California this weekend, "There is no Judeo-Christian faith. There are Judeo-Christian values."
JUDAISM AND Christianity are different religions. But they share common moral values and it is on the basis of these values that joint action can be taken and separate actions can be judged. Jews and Christians cannot judge each other on the basis of theology, only on the basis of morality.
Pope Benedict\'s actions clearly show him to be a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Unfortunately, due to the grave absence of Jewish leadership in both Israel and the US today, he has little to show for it.
But any grief that Israel\'s neglect, and men like Foxman\'s unnecessary criticisms may have caused the pope are nothing compared to the insults Jewish leaders have heaped in recent months on our most prominent Protestant Christian friend. The humiliating treatment that Pastor John Hagee, the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Jews has suffered at the hands of American Jewish leaders is simply a travesty.
This week in Washington, DC, AIPAC is hosting its annual policy conference. It will be an illustrious affair. Heavy-hitters from both American political parties will be in attendance, as will scholars and activists from Israel and the US. But one name is noticeably absent from the three-day program. John Hagee - who in three years has transformed CUFI into a grassroots pro-Israel movement that dwarfs AIPAC in size - is not on the program. And this is a horrible thing.
AIPAC\'s decision to shun Hagee says something terrible about the state of American Jewish politics today. Quite simply, Hagee has become a victim of liberal American Jewish leaders\' decision to place their leftist political preferences above their concern for Israel\'s survival and for the well-being of American Jewry.
SENATOR BARACK Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, has a problem with his religious background. Until last weekend, Obama was a 20-year member of the Trinity United Baptist Church in Chicago. In recent months, his former pastor Jeremiah Wright, the man who converted him to Christianity, officiated at his wedding and baptized his daughters, has been exposed as an anti-American, anti-white and anti-Semitic political activist who preaches a black supremacist version of Christian teachings to his enthusiastic congregation. Then too, Obama\'s Catholic friend, and friend of Trinity United, Father Michael Pfleger, has been exposed as an anti-American, anti-white and anti-Semitic political activist who preaches a black supremacist version of Christian teaching to his enthusiastic congregation.
Obama\'s longstanding and deep connections to these spiritual mentors have placed him in a problematic position vis-à-vis the American electorate. To mitigate the damage, Obama\'s supporters have sought to counterbalance Wright with a conservative clergyman of equal weight in the Republican camp. And Hagee, with his avowedly anti-homosexual, anti-abortion views and public prominence was the chosen target.
THE FIRST Obama supporter to hone in on Hagee was Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Yoffie has long sought to discredit Hagee who he sees as a threat to his view that the only way to be pro-Israel is to support the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Hagee endorsed Republican John McCain for President in March. In early April, Yoffie called on McCain to reject Hagee\'s endorsement and he called on American Jews to reject CUFI, claiming that CUFI\'s unconditional support for Israel precluded its support for a Palestinian state.
In his words, "No, we cannot cooperate with Christian Zionists. What [Hagee and his allies] mean by \'support of Israel\' and what we mean by \'support of Israel\' are two very different things. Their vision of Israel rejects a two-state solution, rejects the possibility of a democratic Israel, and supports the permanent occupation of all Arab lands now controlled by Israel."
FOLLOWING YOFFIE\'s lead, Democratic activists desperate to find a Republican counterpart to Wright, focused their fire on Hagee. They attacked him for anti-homosexual remarks he has made. And they grossly distorted remarks he made on historical Christian anti-Semitism to portray him as an enemy of the Catholic church. Then too, they attacked him for a sermon he gave where he argued that the Holocaust was God\'s way of getting the Jews to Israel and so absurdly implied that a man who has devoted his professional life to improving Jewish-Christian relations, ending Evangelical Christian drives to convert Jews and supporting Israel is an anti-Semite.
The Democratic Jewish charge against Hagee compelled McCain to reject Hagee\'s endorsement, and so drove another wedge between McCain and the Republican voting Christian Right. It also successfully created an illusion of symmetry between Wright and Hagee.
This in and of itself is morally repugnant since there is no moral equivalence between Hagee and Wright. Hagee clearly loves America, doesn\'t have a problem with whites or blacks and loves Jews. Wright is a man defined by his hatreds.
But even more insidious than Hagee\'s forced estrangement from McCain is the effort to have him disowned by the American Jewish community and Israel. Yoffie, together with the pro-Palestinian Jewish American lobbying group J Street, have been pressuring Jewish leaders to distance their organizations from Hagee and CUFI and to boycott CUFI\'s annual conference in Washington next month. Not surprisingly, Foxman answered their call by announcing that he was placing the ADL\'s relations with CUFI "on hold." And no doubt bowing to their pressure, AIPAC neglected to invite Hagee to its policy conference this week.
As for Israel, just as Yoffie made his initial attack on Hagee, Hagee was setting out to Israel with a thousand CUFI members on a solidarity mission. He held a rally of his supporters at the Jerusalem Conference Center. There he distributed six million dollars in contributions from CUFI members to Israeli charities and educational institutions. No doubt in response to Yoffie\'s pressure, the only prominent Israeli politicians who attended the event were Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and former Likud minister and MK Uzi Landau. No government minister attended and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sufficed with a private meeting with Hagee.
HAPPILY, NOT all American Jewish leaders have agreed to toe the line. Senator Joseph Lieberman has rejected demands by Yoffie and J Street to boycott CUFI\'s conference in Washington. The American Jewish Committee and the Zionist Organization of America have refused to distance themselves from Hagee. Israel and American Jewry should follow their example.
These are terrible times for world Jewry. Islamic Jew-hatred is genocidal. The international Left has betrayed us. Our leaders are weak. Our friends are few and far between. If we wish to persevere in this environment we must embrace those who support us while eschewing those - even in our own ranks - who tell us that support for Israel is conditional. Now is not the time to quibble over Christian theology. Now is the time to stand united with our friends against our common enemies.