Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waiting for the Rapture - Starting in Iran

H/T Richard Silverstein - Yes, it's that time of the year again, where the equally comical and frightening Christians United for Isra-ul (CUFI, note Texan drawl), led by John Hagee, hold their annual conference in Washington DC. Max Blumenthal reports (and gets 'escorted' off the premises). CUFI lobbies Washington for expansion of Israeli territory (one delegate claimed the broker of a ME peace deal would be the anti-Christ - and I thought George '666' Mitchell had his work cut out as it is) and a unilateral attack on Iran.

Apart from a few hundred (thousands?) Bible thumping numpties, more notable attendees are Tom Delay, Joe Lieberman (I kid you not) and Rick Santorum (yawn).

A couple of years ago I saw the CUFIs line-dancing (Texas!) to ersatz Jewish tunes on YouTube, white Star of David studded Stetsons and all. Priceless but no such luck this year.

More background on CUFI and John Hagee's Megachurch by Justin Vogt and this satirical snippet:

At this year’s CUFI gala, beneath a stage framed by massive American and Israeli flags, the country-music star Randy Travis belted out The Star-Spangled Banner. Cornerstone’s choir performed a Dixiefied version of Hava Nagila, the celebratory Hebrew folk-song (“Chicken in the barn, pickin’ up grain/ It don’t matter if it’s sunny or rain / Next year in Jerusalem! / Ve nis’mecha!”) And a jumbo-sized cinema screen bombarded the audience with an infomercial touting the work of the evening’s proud corporate sponsor, Zion Oil & Gas, a company founded by a Hagee supporter who believes that the Bible contains clues that point the way to plentiful deposits of oil in Israel. (“The geology has confirmed the theology,” explained one executive.)

And here's some more CUFI nonsense, from the conference, brought to us by the JTA:

Far and away the most forceful came from U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), one of the more hard-line Democrats in Congress. Berkley told the group of Christian Zionists on Tuesday that “to pin the peace process” on the settlement issue “is absolutely foolhardy.”

“To publicly dress down the State of Israel is a huge mistake,” she said to a huge ovation from the 4,000 delegates at the group’s fourth annual conference.

CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee also weighed in when he introduced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared via satellite Tuesday to speak to the crowd. Hagee told Netanyahu that "50 million Christians" support "Israel's sovereign right to grow and develop the settlements of Israel as you see fit and not yield to the pressure of the United States government." (The prime minister did not address the settlement dispute.)

A few hours after Netanyahu’s speech, Hagee reiterated his criticism of the Obama administration, although he refrained from identifying the president by name.

"America is singling out Israel" in the Middle East, the pastor said. "Despite all of the risks Israel has taken for peace, our government is pressuring Israel to take more risks. Hello Congress, we're putting pressure on the wrong people here. You want to get tough, get tough with the terrorists, not the only democracy in the Middle East."

Hagee and his organization have been a source of much debate in recent years. AIPAC and some other Jewish organizations have embraced their efforts to create an Evangelical Christian pro-Israel lobby. But some critics complain that CUFI supporters hold ultra-conservative views on abortion, gay rights and church-state separation, and fear the organization could end up working to oppose Israeli peace moves. (CUFI leaders insist they would never work against the decisions of the elected government.)

During the presidential campaign last year, Republican nominee John McCain accepted an endorsement from Hagee, but later renounced it after revelations regarding past comments made by the pastor, including his claim that the Holocaust was divine punishment. Hagee offered explanations for several of the most incendiary comments and denied claims that he was anti-Catholic, and several of his Jewish allies firmly rejected efforts to paint him as anti-Semitic.


At 9:58 PM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

The lineup of speakers, make the group even less relevant. Jews don't need apocalyptic friends like that.


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