the epic influence of CUFI on this administration’s I/P policies
Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is more precisely: Evangelical Christians United for their own self-serving interests. Founded in 2006, Hagee wanted to create an Evangelical version of AIPAC to hasten Biblical end-times prophecy. The particulars of post-Armageddon Dispensationalist eschatology vary a bit from preacher to preacher, but in general it concerns the prophecy that post-Armageddon tribulation and rapture, Christ will come again when Israel stands alone. Although I‘ve been familiar with the rudiments for a long time, what I hadn’t known until reading this series by Whitney Webb was that ‘stands alone’ included the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque pictured above, and has for well over a century. In other words: no more Muslims praying at their third most-holy site in Jerusalem, no I/P two-state solution, and the continued immiseration and war on Palestinians.
Hagee’s organization has a membership of seven million, 2 million more than the entire Jewish community in the US. Never mind that these Christians believe Jews will roast in hell unless they convert to Christianity before they die; it’s all good as it’s helpful to the cause. The following most contemporary exposé may be enough for you to read, but if you want to know more of the history, you can read below the fold (dotted line), and skip down past another dotted line to a similar story in Nazareth by the gentle, estimable Jonathan Cook, who writes from Nazareth, where he’d relocated in order to bear witness directly. By my lights, he’s among the key experts on I/P issues.
Part III of a III-Part series: ‘The Untold Story of Christian Zionism’s Rise to Power in the United States; well before Theodore Herzl founded political Zionism and published The Jewish State, Christian Zionists in the United States and England were already seeking to direct and influence the foreign policy of both nations in service to a religious obsession end times prophecy’, Whitney Webb, July 12, 2019, mintpressnews
“Members of this organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), met in Washington on Monday, attracting thousands of attendees and featuring speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Advisor John Bolton. CUFI’s leader, controversial evangelical preacher John Hagee, has met with President Donald Trump several times and was recently part of an exclusive White House meeting in March on the administration’s upcoming “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine.”
While organizations like CUFI and its predecessors have long seen the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the later Israeli victory and conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, there is one prophecy that this sect of evangelical Christians believes is the only thing standing between them and the Second Coming. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these Christians, often referred to as Christian Zionists, in the United States and they are a key voting bloc and source of political donations for the Republican Party.
As was explored in previous installments of this series, these Christian Zionists, much like religious Zionist extremists in Israel, believe that the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock must be replaced with a Third Jewish Temple in order to usher in the end times.
These two groups of different faiths, since the 19th century, have repeatedly formed an opportunistic alliance in order to ensure the fulfillment of their respective prophecies, despite the fact that members of the other faith are rarely if ever on the same page in their interpretations of what occurs after the temple’s construction.
This alliance, based on a mutual obsession with hastening the coming of the Apocalypse, continues to this day and now, more than at any other time in history, these groups have reached the heights of power in both Israel and the United States. Parts I and II of this exclusive series explored how this branch of religious Zionism has come to dominate the current right-wing government of Israel and has led Israel’s current government to take definitive steps towards the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque and the imminent construction of a Third Temple.” [a very lengthy historical narrative snip]
“While organizations like CUFI and its predecessors have long seen the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the later Israeli victory and conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, there is one prophecy that this sect of evangelical Christians believes is the only thing standing between them and the Second Coming. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these Christians, often referred to as Christian Zionists, in the United States and they are a key voting bloc and source of political donations for the Republican Party.
As was explored in previous installments of this series, these Christian Zionists, much like religious Zionist extremists in Israel, believe that the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock must be replaced with a Third Jewish Temple in order to usher in the end times. “
CUFI is exempt from paying U.S. taxes and from publicly disclosing its finances because it is officially registered as a church, though it is often likened to an arm of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and actively promotes and funds illegal West Bank settlements. CUFI also advocates for Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the construction of a Third Temple.
Much has been written about CUFI’s influence in the Republican Party, which began under the George W. Bush administration soon after its founding. As journalist Max Blumenthal noted in a 2006 article for The Nation: “Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).”
As a result of these meetings, CUFI aligned itself tightly with the neoconservatives that were well represented in the Bush administration, even appointing neoconservative and Christian Zionist Gary Bauer to its board and naming Bauer the first director of its lobbying arm, the CUFI Action Fund. Bauer is a founding member of the highly controversial and now-defunct neoconservative group, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and has also served on the executive board of the neoconservative group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).
CUFI has since won powerful allies and counts neoconservative Elliott Abrams; former CIA director James Woosley; neoconservative archon Bill Kristol; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ted Cruz (R-TX); Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence among its staunchest supporters. At a CUFI summit last year, Netanyahu described CUFI as a “vital part of Israel’s national security.”
In addition, CUFI has close ties to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the top donor to President Trump and the entire Republican Party. Adelson even received a special award from Hagee at a 2014 CUFI event. “I’ve never had a greater warm feeling than being honored by Pastor Hagee,” said a beaming Sheldon Adelson at the time.
At the most recent CUFI summit, held on Monday, the Trump administration sent Pence, Pompeo, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, all of whom spoke at the summit.”
In addition to its own influence as an organization, the group has made Hagee himself a major political player. In 2007, then-Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) compared Hagee to Moses, stating:
“I want to take to opportunity to describe Pastor Hagee in the terms the Torah used to describe Moses. He is an Ish Elohim. A man of God. And those words really do fit him. And I have something else. Like Moses, he’s become the leader of a mighty multitude. Even greater than the multitude that Moses led from Egypt to the Promised Land.”
Efforts by prominent politicians to court Hagee were once numerous, until evidence of Hagee making remarks about the Holocaust that were widely considered anti-semitic surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign. In those remarks, Hagee asserted that Adolf Hitler had been sent by God to act as a “hunter,” and force Jews by means of the Holocaust to resettle in Palestine as a means of fulfilling Biblical prophecy. Then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had aggressively courted Hagee’s endorsement, was forced to distance himself from Hagee after those comments resurfaced.”
“After the meeting, Hagee issued an urgent prayer request. ”Our topic of discussion was discussing the forthcoming peace plan concerning Israel. Israel and the Jewish people need our prayers and our advocacy like never before,” Hagee said in a video posted to the CUFI Twitter page soon after the meeting. “The Bible gives the command, ‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not keep my peace.’ I urge you tonight to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
I won’t embed the Hagee video linked above, as I have such a strong visceral reaction to him after watching him at one of the CUFI Summits years ago in which his microphone was on reverb, in an obvious attempt to make him sound like the Voice of God.
Other headings before she finishes are:
Pence and Pompeo push “holy war”
Joining forces to target Jerusalem
Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.
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I’d like to pause for a moment to express my appreciation to Ms. Webb for this breathtaking in-depth series. In what could be published as a short book, she’s dug back in history of this movement and related Evangelical preachers influencing past administrations, to bring facts, quotes, dozens of archival photos, maps, and so on. One might call it a labor of love in defense of justice for not only Palestinians, but all Muslims, both secular and religious alike.
The following bits are from Part II of her III-Part series. In Webb’s Part III we learn that Christian Zionism began even before Theodore Herzl.
‘In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream; this ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.
by Whitney Webb, June 24, 2019, mintpressnews
“The iconic golden dome of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount or Haram el-Sharif, is the third holiest site in Islam and is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem.
Some observers may have noticed the growing effort by some Israeli government and religious officials to remove the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque from the Jerusalem skyline, not only erasing the holy site in official posters, banners and educational material but also physically removing the building itself.
“In the end we’ll build the temple and it will be a house of prayer for all nations,” Glick told Israeli newspaper Maariv in 2012. A year later, Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel stated that “[w]e’ve built many little, little temples…but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.” Ariel stated that the new Jewish Temple must be built on the site where Al-Aqsa currently sits “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation.” Since then, prominent Israeli politicians have become more and more overt in their support for the end of Jordanian-Palestinian sovereignty over the mosque compound, leading many prominent Palestinians to warn in recent years of plans to destroy the mosque.”
“When taken together, the threats to Al-Aqsa are clearly revealed to be much greater than the loss of a physical building, though that itself would be a grave loss for the world’s Muslim community, which includes over 1.8 billion people. In addition, the site’s destruction would very likely result in a regional and perhaps even global war with clear religious dimensions.”
Webb’s lengthy historical narrative shows that the plans to eliminate the Al-Aqsa Mosque stretch back to 1836. Later Webb quotes Dr. Ramsy Baroud:
“There has been a massive increase in the number of Israeli Jews who force their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to pray and practice various rituals…In 2017 alone, over 25,000 Jews who visited the compound — accompanied by thousands of soldiers and police officers and provoking many clashes that resulted in the death and wounding of many Palestinians. Since 2017, the increase in Jews visiting the compound has been very significant if compared to the previous year when around 14,000 Jews made that same journey.”
“[The Temple Activist movement] has achieved a great deal in appealing to mainstream Israeli Jewish society in recent years. At one point, it was a marginal movement, but with the rise of the far right in Israel, their ideas and ideologies and religious aspirations have also become part of the Israeli mainstream.”
All of that behavior at the Mosque even though Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group based in New York that opposes Zionism had told Mintpress news (not that I claim to understand it):
‘There are only a few sins in Judaism — which has many, many laws, that lead to a Jew being cut off from God — and to go up to the Temple Mount is one of them…This is because you need a certain level of holiness to ascend and… the process to attain that level of holiness and purity cannot be done today, because [aspects of and the items required by] the necessary purity rituals no longer exist today.’
And that ‘the prophetic idea of a Third Temple was, prior to Zionism, understood as indicating not a change in physical structures on the Temple Mount, but a metaphysical, spiritual change that would unite all of mankind to worship and serve God in unison.’
She chronicles the history of the many attempts to bomb the Mosque to hasten the messianic ‘visions’, the state crackdowns on Palestinians ramping up on the day that Israeli police provided cover for the extremists who’d crashed their way into the Mosque during the final days of Ramadan. I remember having brought either Tweeted still photos or videos of the hellish pandemonium inside in an earlier diary. Webb includes a photo of bloody shoes…and footprints.
“Israeli police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse Palestinian worshippers who had gathered at the mosque during one of Islam’s most important holidays while allowing over a thousand Israeli Jews to enter the compound. Forty-five Palestinians were wounded and several were arrested.”
Webb then brings a number of abysmally disgusting quotes from Likud Party officials encouraging even more of the same behavior, as well as one declaring that the Israeli police are in charge of the site, so in effect: f*ck them, who cares?.
“Earlier this month, and not long after Miri Regev’s controversial comments, an event attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, used a banner that depicted the Jerusalem skyline with the Dome of the Rock noticeably absent. Though some may write off such creative photo editing as a fluke, it is but the latest in a series of similar incidents where official events or materials have edited out the iconic building and, in some cases, have replaced it with a reconstructed Jewish temple. “ [holding that mocked-up image as they laugh]
‘How the Third Temple Movement in Israel Rebranded Theocracy as “Civil Rights”; the Temple Activist movement is now more mainstream than ever before and its effort to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, has advanced with great rapidity since the year began and has picked up precipitously in recent weeks’, Whitney Webb, July 3, 2019, mintpressnews
“Since its formation, the Temple Institute has created detailed blueprints of its vision for a Third Temple, based partially on the maps first made by Shlomo Goren in 1967, as well as 3-D computer animations and physical models of that Temple. In addition, it has created several artifacts for use in a future temple, including a golden menorah, incense altars, priestly garments and a variety of ritual vessels, among others. The menorah alone is estimated to have cost 5 million NIS (about $1.3 million USD).”
Jonathan Cook, writing from Nazareth brings this story of a different Evangelical Zionist in his:
‘How Evangelical Christians risk setting the Middle East on fire; TB Joshua is the latest in a wave of pro-Zionist preachers taking an active interest in Israel – and Palestinians will pay the price’, 8 July 2019, jonathan-cook.net
“The recent arrival of Africa’s most popular televangelist preacher, TB Joshua, to address thousands of foreign pilgrims in Nazareth produced a mix of consternation and anger in the city of Jesus’s childhood.
There was widespread opposition from Nazareth’s political movements, as well as from community groups and church leaders, who called for a boycott of his two rallies. They were joined by the council of muftis, which described the events as “a red line for faith in religious values”.
Joshua’s gatherings, which included public exorcisms, took place in an open-air amphitheatre on a hill above Nazareth that was originally built for papal masses. The site was used by Pope Benedict in 2009.
The Nigerian pastor, who has millions of followers worldwide and calls himself a prophet, aroused local hostility not only because his brand of Christianity strays far from the more traditional doctrines of Middle Eastern churches. He also represents a trend of foreign Christians, driven by apocalyptic readings of the Bible, interfering ever more explicitly in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories – and in ways that directly aid the policies of Israel’s far-right government.
Much-needed tourism boost
Nazareth is the largest of the Palestinian communities in Israel that survived the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948, which forced most of the native population out of the bulk of their homeland and replaced it with a Jewish state. Today, one in five Israeli citizens are Palestinian.
The city and its immediate environs include the highest concentration of Palestinian Christians in the region. But it has long suffered from the hostility of Israeli officials, who have starved Nazareth of resources to prevent it from becoming a political, economic or cultural capital for the Palestinian minority.
The city has almost no land for growth or industrial areas to expand its income base, and Israel has tightly constrained its ability to develop a proper tourism industry. Most pilgrims pass through briefly to visit its Basilica of the Annunciation, the site where the angel Gabriel reputedly told Mary she was carrying Jesus.
Nazareth’s municipal officials leapt at the chance to exploit the publicity, and income, provided by Joshua’s visit. The municipality’s longer-term hope is that, if the city can attract even a small proportion of the more than 60 million Christian evangelicals in the US and millions more in Africa and Europe, it will provide an enormous boost to the city’s economy.
Political factions in Nazareth noted Joshua’s “ties to far-right and settlers circles in Israel”. He is reported to have had meetings about opening operations in the Jordan Valley, the reputed site of Jesus’ baptism but also the agricultural backbone of the West Bank. The area is being targeted by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu for settlement expansion and possible annexation, thereby dooming efforts to create a Palestinian state.
A view of Armageddon
During his visits to Israel, Joshua has also enjoyed access to key government figures such as Yariv Levin, a close ally of Netanyahu’s, who has been in charge of two portfolios viewed as critical by the evangelical community: tourism, and the absorption into Israel of new Jewish immigrants from the US and Europe.
Many in the evangelical community, including Joshua, believe it is their duty to encourage Jews to move from their home countries to the Promised Land to bring forward an end-times supposedly prophesied in the Bible.
This is the Rapture, when Jesus returns to build his kingdom on earth and righteous Christians take their place alongside him. Everyone else, including unrepentant Jews, it is implied, will burn in Hell’s eternal fires.
The cliff above the Jezreel Valley where Joshua and his disciples congregated offers views over Tel Megiddo, the modern name of the biblical site of Armageddon, where many evangelicals believe the end of the world will soon happen.”
“Before he entered government, Pompeo was clear about his evangelical beliefs. Back in 2015, he told a congregation: “It is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture. Be part of it. Be in the fight.”
This past March, he backed the idea that Trump might have been sent by God to save Israel from threats such as Iran. “I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Pence, meanwhile, has said: “My passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith … It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice-president to a president who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally.”
Sleeping giant awakens
Trump’s relocation last year of the US embassy to Jerusalem, pre-empting any negotiated settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, was designed to pander to his Christian Zionist base. Some 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016, and he will need their support again in 2020 if he hopes to be re-elected.
Not surprisingly, the new US embassy in Jerusalem was consecrated by two prominent televangelist pastors, John Hagee and Robert Jeffress, known for their fanatical support for Israel – as well as occasional antisemitic outbursts.”
Other headings of Cook’ include:
Closer ties to settlers
Evangelical money pours in
Immune to reason (a short outtake):
“Western governments typically have more practical and pressing concerns than realising biblical prophecy to justify divide-and-rule policies in the Middle East. Chiefly, they want control over the region’s oil resources, and can secure it only by projecting military power there to prevent rival nations from gaining a foothold.
But the uncritical support of tens of millions of Christians around the world, whose passion for Israel is immune to reason, makes the job of these governments selling wars and resource grabs all the easier.”
Standing against Israel’s enemies (a brief outtake)
“Seen this way, any enemy Israel claims to have – whether the Palestinians or Iran – automatically becomes the sworn enemy of tens of millions of evangelical Christians.
Netanyahu understands the growing importance of this uncritical overseas lobby as his and Israel’s standing drops precipitously among liberal US Jews, appalled by the rightward lurch of successive governments.”
Cook ends with:
“The truth is that these Christian Zionists view the region through a single, exclusive prism: whatever aids the imminent arrival of the Messiah is welcomed. The only issue is how soon God’s “chosen people” will congregate in the Promised Land.
If the Palestinians stand in Israel’s way, these tens of millions of foreign Christians will be quite happy to see the native population driven out once again – as they were in 1948 and 1967.”
Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces seize British and Liberian-flagged ships in Strait of Hormuz
— CUFI (@CUFI) July 19, 2019
The time has come for the entire enlightened world to understand the severity of the danger from Iran and Hezbollah. The time has come for the entire world to come out against them.
Even if we have to stand alone against Iran and its proxies – we will do so. pic.twitter.com/CjzIEIk6no
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) July 18, 2019
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)