By: Morton A. Klein
April 11, 2008

ZOA Praises Pastor Hagee’s Support For Israel

ZOA Criticizes Reform’s Yoffie for Anti-Hagee Remarks



 


 


 


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly praised Pastor Rev. John Hagee, the Evangelical Christian leader and head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), following attacks upon him by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ). Rabbi Yoffie argued that American Jews should reject an alliance with Rev. Hagee and his organization, which is strongly supportive of Israel, because of Hagee’s views on various issues, yet Rabbi Yoffie himself recently embraced a Muslim extremist organization, the Islamic Council of North America, which he addressed last August. In a speech to URJ on April 2, Rabbi Yoffie said that “No, we cannot cooperate with the Christian Zionists” because “What they mean by support of Israel and what we mean by support of Israel are two very different things.”


 


 


Rabbi Yoffie’s statements & ZOA’s rejoinder:


 


·       “Christian Zionists leaders have claimed that while they oppose a two-state solution, they do not interfere in Israel‘s internal affairs. But of course they do. In July of 2007, Pastor Hagee and other Christian Zionist leaders wrote a letter to President Bush stating that “land for peace is a failed policy of the past“: Actually, this is not interference, but a fact. It is a fact that ‘land for peace’ has failed. Israel has relinquished half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, receiving only more bloodshed, terror and insecurity in return. Rev. Hagee is as legitimate in offering his opinion as Rabbi Yoffie is in offering his, contrary opinion.


 


·       “… mainstream Christian Zionists … oppose any territorial concessions by the Government of Israel for any reason whatsoever. It follows that 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 … such views may advance their theology but they do so at the expense of Israel’s security and well-being. If implemented, in fact, these views would mean disaster for Israel, and would lead to diplomatic isolation, increased violence”: But Rabbi Yoffie’s stance on major concessions have in fact been taken in the past by Israel – Israel has made massive concessions as Rabbi Yoffie urged, ceding half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, only to receive more terror and violence in return and without attracting any fresh diplomatic support. Instead of admitting the folly of this policy, and despite having admitted his mistake in promoting in the past arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat as a peacemaker, Rabbi Yoffie continues to back this ill-advised and provably disastrous approach. It would appear that Rabbi Yoffie opposes any alliance with Rev. Hagee and the CUFI because their political views differ from his own.


 


·       “It might be helpful to remember that the current government and the four previous governments of Israel have all supported some version of a two-state solution; while the details differ, all are based on a negotiated agreement that would provide peace and security both for Israel and for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza“:  It is untrue that four past Israeli governments supported a two-state solution. The Oslo accords did not encompass such an eventuality, although its advocates tacitly harbored such an objective. Yitzhak Rabin, in his last speech to the Knesset on October 5, 1995, specifically laid out the parameters of Palestinian self-governance which, in his vision, was to amount to “an entity which is less than a state.” The Netanyahu government did not support creating a Palestinian state.


 


·        “Christian Zionist representatives, along with some Jewish leaders, met with President Bush’s National Security Advisor to demand that the issue of Jerusalem be taken off the table in any negotiations between Israelis and PalestiniansIt might be helpful to remember as well that such a position [in favor of a Palestinian state] is supported by … the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community”: This is simply incorrect. Successive polls of American Jewish opinion show a drop over the years for such a position. The 2007 American Jewish Committee poll showed that less than a majority – 46% – of American Jews still support a Palestinian state. Nearly half of American Jewry explicitly opposes a Palestinian state.  The same survey also shows that 58% of American Jews reject Israeli concessions on Jerusalem, which suggests that most American Jews do not share Rabbi Yoffie’s enthusiasm for the current negotiations. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, representing the broad spectrum of American Jews, recently passed a resolution supporting an undivided Jerusalem. Do these things make most American Jews opponents of Israel because they disagree with Rabbi Yoffie? Rabbi Yoffie’s position supporting a Palestinian state is the one which is out of step with majority American Jewish opinion.


 


·       “Christian Zionists actively opposed the disengagement from Gaza and supported the settlers who were resisting the evacuation. That is interference…”: Christian Zionists opposed the Gaza withdrawal and uprooting of Jews from their homes. If opposing something equals interference, and if Rabbi Yoffie expresses contrary views, why is that not, too, interference? Moreover, the Gaza withdrawal has brought more terrorism, bloodshed and insecurity for Israel and pushed peace further away. In short, Rabbi Yoffie was wrong and the Christian Zionists were right.


 


·       “… an American role in achieving such a [peace] settlement will be essential. Therefore, we must urge our government to commit itself to active, high-level engagement, in order to move the parties toward peace”: Rabbi Yoffie essentially urges a policy of American pressure on Israel to make concessions the Israeli public opposes and which the Israel government resists. If that is not “interference” of the sort that Rabbi Yoffie decries, what is? Apparently, Rabbi Yoffie believes “interference” is bad only when people he disagrees with do the interfering.


 


·        “On Israeli-Palestinian politics, John Hagee and the CUFI are extremists … their views run against the American grain”: As the foregoing shows, Rabbi Yoffie could equally be dismissed as an extremist advocating a minority position. However, rather than casting aspersions on sincere friends of Israel who happen to have a very different view from Rabbi Yoffie about the political realities of the Middle East and rudely denigrating them as somehow un-American, Rabbi Yoffie should be embracing them. Besides, even if Rev. Hagee’s view were a minority one, Rabbi Yoffie fails to even consider the issue that minority views can be sometimes correct. The anti-appeasers like Winston Churchill in the 1930s were correct but a minority. So, too, once were those who opposed slavery in the South as inconsistent with morality and justice. Majority support for something can be a good argument, but it is no guarantee of wisdom.


 


·       “… we should avoid alliances with Christian Zionists because what they mean by support of Israel and what we mean by support of Israel are two very different things”: Should we also reject and demean the view of Likud and other Israeli parties that disagree with Rabbi Yoffie on what is good for Israel. Even if this were true, it is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Evangelicals are clearly fighting now for Israel‘s survival and security. If we are firm in our faith, we should gladly accept their help and worry about the realization of their views if and when they come to pass. Short of Evangelicals engaging in efforts to convert Jews – something that Rev. Hagee does not do and demands of all those within his CUFI coalition that they likewise not do – there should be no problem accepting the support of Evangelicals.


 


·       “I think that we should refrain from participating in the “Night to Honor Israel” road shows that Pastor Hagee sponsors“: Rabbi Yoffie believes that Jews should boycott Rev. Hagee’s pro-Israel events because he regards him as an extremist, but Rabbi Yoffie has no difficulty embracing radical Muslims who are hostile to Israel, like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization connected with the Islamist Wahhabi lobby.


 


·       “….as we know from the headlines, you have what I know must be for you as well as for us an alarming number of extremists of your own  … A measure of our success [in working together] will be our ability, each of us, to discuss and confront extremism in our midst. As a Jew I know that our sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, are filled with contradictory propositions, and these include passages that appear to promote violence and thus offend our ethical sensibilities”: Rabbi Yoffie claims that Muslim fanaticism and intolerance had been over-stated while ignoring the many Quranic verses and hadith calling for jihad against infidels. Also, why is Rabbi Yoffie building up a straw man of Jewish extremism when there are hardly any Jewish terrorists or support for them across the Jewish spectrum? What principle of morality or Jewish interest leads Rabbi Yoffie to attack friends of Israel with whom he disagrees while embracing opponents of Israel?


 


·        “…it is important to remember that Israel’s greatest friends and most important defenders are not the fundamentalists or the extremists, or those who, with utter confidence, take their orders directly from God“: No – Rev. Hagee bases his views on our holy Jewish Torah, which he calls the Old Testament. Why would that be wrong? Also, Rabbi Yoffie a little later says that Israel is the land “we all call holy.” Surely, Rabbi Yoffie derives that idea from the same source from which Rev. Hagee’s derives his view – our Bible. Does that mean Rabbi Yoffie takes orders ‘directly from God’? No, it only means that his understanding of the Bible is different. Rabbi Yoffie seems intolerant and unable to accept the legitimacy of religiously-inspired understandings of the Bible that differ from his own.


 


·       “I would wonder if they [Evangelicals like Rev. Hagee] were trying to bolster the Jewish state in order to fulfill their prophecies of Armageddon and the Second Coming”: Rabbi Yoffie says he disagrees with Rev. Hagee’s views on some issues, including non-Israeli issues. But coalitions always operate by working on common ground and ignoring other issues, not on the basis of complete agreement across the spectrum of issues. Rabbi Yoffie wonders if Evangelicals like Rev. Hagee seek to bolster the Jewish state and oppose concessions – in order to achieve an Armageddon and bring about a second coming. Even if this were true, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Evangelicals are clearly fighting now for Israel‘s survival and security. If we are firm in our faith, we should gladly accept their help and worry about the realization of their views if and when they come to pass. Short of engaging in efforts to convert Jews – something that Rev. Hagee does not do and demands of all those within his CUFI coalition that they likewise not do – there should be no problem accepting support of Evangelicals.


 


·       “The heart of Pastor Hagee’s message is to be found in these words: “Stop giving the land away. The land belongs to you. Keep it”: All religious groups, including Rabbi Yoffie’s, base their political views on what they argue to be a correct understanding of their religious tradition. It also happens also to be a part of the Jewish Bible that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. If Rabbi Yoffie has a different understanding of the Bible, he should provide evidence for it from Jewish sources.


 


 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “In the end, when Israel is under enormous pressure with few defenders and supporters, Pastor Hagee’s support is critical. He sends a message to the President and Congress and to the media that the Jews are not alone, thank G-d. For Pastor Hagee, in addition to his great work throughout the year  throughout the country, he brings 5,000 Christians to Washington every year with vigor and love and support for Israel that we Jews can learn something from. He takes our holy Torah seriously. Should Jews criticize him for that? And he has reawakened the Christian heart and soul inspiring them to realize G-d’s holy land was given to the Jews, his chosen people. They love us – and we love them.”