Monday, May 28, 2007

I flesh out my argument against CUFI

and submit it to The Seminal:

John Hagee's nights "to honor Israel" do nothing to honor Israel. Instead, they bring to light some fundamental philosophical and theological differences between most modern Jews and a large portion of fundamentalist Christians.

Christians United for Israel, Hagee's organization, is led by several prominent far-right evangelical leaders, including the recently departed Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and the head of the Christian Broadcasting Network, the channel that spews Pat Robertson's filth.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to honor the Jewish people and the Jewish state while advancing a homophobic, anti-feminist, anti-environmentalist, theocratic political agenda. To truly honor the Jewish people, evangelicals should hearken to Jewish ideas of equality, social justice, religious liberty, and environmental stewardship. Until evangelicals abandon the politics of hate and divisiveness, many modern Jews will not be comfortable allying with them on the issue of Israel.

In addition, a lot of Jews are uncomfortable with the apocalyptic undertones of Hagee's organization. Many of the far-right leaders who are involved in Hagee's organization believe in biblical literalism, and their support of Israel is conditioned entirely on a belief that the establishment of a secure Jewish state will lead directly to the second coming of Jesus and the apocalypse.

I don't really think that one can truly "support Israel" if that support is conditioned on the forced conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity in the "end times." One simply cannot genuinely honor the Jewish people while secretly hoping for our destruction.

The support for Israel expressed by leaders like Hagee is unconditional to the point of fanaticism. Many of these evangelical leaders seek only to establish a "greater Israel" without involving themselves in real issues. CUFI's mandate seems to be a purely Biblical one, with no practical grounding in the geopolitical complexities of the issues. Pure, unquestioning, hardline support for Israel, without such understanding, is not only meaningless, it is dangerous.

Many progressive Jews favor a more balanced perspective. We recognize that support for Israel means engaging in the ongoing debate about how best to secure its future, and that compromises must be made on both sides to achieve a lasting peace in the region. We are not afraid to criticize the Israeli government when it does something wrong, and we recognize that, eventually, most of the settlements will have to be dismantled. We are engaged in Israel's future in a real and meaningful way, participating actively in the growth of a Jewish state that honors our traditions, respects our values, and lives at peace with its neighbors. Hagee's hardline bullhorn and Falwell's support for such far-right Israeli leaders as Benjamin Netanyahu only hamper our efforts and bring further division to an already impossible situation.

True support of Israel means support for the Jewish people, as we are, and of our right to religious freedom in our homeland and here in this country. Religious freedom means freedom for all religions, and freedom from interference in our religious affairs. Evangelicals are free to support Israel, but that support must be genuine, and engaged in the real struggle for a lasting peace in the region. Until the evangelical community, and CUFI in particular, gains a more realistic, moderate, and socially progressive perspective, most Jews will not want to ally with them on Israel.