Christians unite for Israel in Washington
Thousands of Christians gathered in Washington to show their support for the nation of Israel as part of the annual Christians United for Israel Summit. “God says I will bless those who bless Israel and I would personally like to be a part of that,” said Cheryl Golds of Billings, Montana. Organized by pastor and televangelist John Hagee, the Christians United for Israel Summit boasts plenty of big names — this year they include TV host Glenn Beck, former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (via satellite). “I want to take the liberty of describing Pastor Hagee in the words that the Torah uses to describe Moses,” Lieberman told CUFI participants in 2007. “Like Moses, he’s become the leader of a mighty multitude, even greater than the multitude Moses led through the Promised Land.” Each year, the conference brings together Christian and Jewish leaders for prayer, speeches and a celebration of the special bond between Israel and the United States. Stan Stubblefield, a CUFI conference participant from Washington DC, said that the US and Israel share a common destiny. “Whenever we kind of stiff Israel, something bad happens here. We pushed people out of Gaza and then we had Katrina over here. People see almost a parallel between rough treatment of Israel and judgment happening to America.” CUFI takes a tough stance on defending Israel, and some participants said they wanted to see more than just sanctions used to pressure Iran. “Sanctions haven’t slowed down their nuclear advances. I don't know if we as America can do anything, but we hope that the Israelis would be preemptive,” said Paul Merriam, a CUFI summit participant from Sacramento, California. Other CUFI participants said God would intervene on Israel’s behalf. “I don’t care how much the Iranians get their bomb together to annihilate Israel — it will fizzle. It will fizzle and it will not work because in the 67 Year War, time and again they would see bombs go boom in the air, because there is this invisible bubble over Israel because God's going to protect his people,” said Sharon Hummel, a CUFI summit participant from Billings, Montana. Many Christian Zionists also believe the second coming of Jesus Christ can’t occur without the state of Israel. “I suppose [Jesus] could come, but he won't know where to land because his feet are supposed to land on the Mount of Olives, and he has to go into the temple compound, and there will be a temple at that time,” said Merriam. “We know there has to be a temple for the antichrist, the personage of Satan himself, to sit in and declare himself God, before Christ happens.” Christian Zionists believe that only when the Jewish people are in Israel, the end of the world can begin…a belief that has led some to criticize Hagee as anti-Semitic. “There is a faction in the United States called the neoconservatives, and they've long tried to develop ties with people like Hagee because they see it as a very tactical tie,” said Michael Flynn, director of the Institute for Policy Studies RightWeb. “There’s aspects of this Christian Zionism that could actually be considered anti-Semitic, because to some extent they believe that all Jews who don't convert to Christianity will ultimately be destroyed.” Flynn said neoconservatives reconcile this: “It’s their theology, but it’s our Israel — and I think that sort of sums up the kind of relationship Hagee would like to exploit, in terms of building relationships with political actors in Washington. On the other hand, these political actors in Washington very much like Hagee because of his political weight and the large segment of the US voting population he brings.” The CUFI summit concludes on July 20 with a day of lobbying in Congress — CUFI makes appointments and arranges shuttles for all registered participants to meet with their representatives in Congress.