It’s been a year or two since I last attended a meeting of the local rabbinical association, but the last time I did, I walked out with a sick feeling in my stomach.
On the agenda was consideration of rabbinical participation in a planned Miami event called “Salute to Israel” hosted by Christians United for Israel (CUFI). This is the “Christian Zionist” organization founded by John Hagee, a right-wing fundamentalist minister. Its current president is Gary Bauer of Family Research Council fame.
I was flabbergasted at the positive responses to this event that I heard from otherwise moderate and liberal rabbis (there was only one Orthodox member present and he was among the more reasonable).
It seemed not to matter terribly much to my colleagues that Hagee, Bauer and their ilk represent the most vicious homophobic, misogynistic religious voices in America. The conversation was all about how wonderful it is that they support Israel. There was no consideration given to the motivation for this supposedly wonderful support.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. In an article on HuffPost he has written about these Christian Zionists and reviewed a new documentary film that’s been produced about them. I haven’t seen the film so I can’t fairly comment on it, but his post makes some devastating points:
To the Christian Zionists “defending Israel” is just a handy pretext for indulging their obsession: egging on, even “helping” the fulfillment of “biblical prophecies” about the “return of Christ.”
They are the Christian equivalent of the messianic Jewish nut jobs that insist on fulfilling God’s will by their immoral and frequently violent settlement activities on the West Bank.
Schaeffer sums them up this way:
…[T]heir very raison d’être is an insult to any actual God (if there is such a thing). I mean how could God be stupider than his frail human creatures? And what could be stupider than tying land acquisition to spirituality, as if the God Of The Universe is addicted to enforcing borders established by British colonialists and/or some rather nasty genocidal warring Bronze Age tribes?!
They absolutely do believe in these kinds of things. Both the settlers, many of whom believe that their actions will bring the messiah and their Christian allies, who care only about how to facilitate “the return of Christ,” present a danger to any possibility of peace.
I support Israel, too. The version of Israel that I support is a secular democratic state preserving Hebrew and Jewish culture while protecting the rights and dignity of all of its citizens. I care not one whit for “holy” stories, sites or borders. The only thing that is sacred to me is human life and well-being.
Accepting support from anyone who views Israel as the fulfillment of nonsensical supernatural legends is as irresponsible as it is ridiculous.