We write as evangelical Christian leaders in the United States to thank you for your efforts (including the major address on July 16) to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in the region. We affirm your clear call for a two-state solution....
We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people including some U.S. policymakers that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, who sign this letter, represent large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S. who support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians....
As evangelical Christians, we embrace the biblical promise to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you." (Genesis 12:3). And precisely as evangelical Christians committed to the full teaching of the Scriptures, we know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the present State of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted. Genuine love and genuine blessing means acting in ways that promote the genuine and long-term well being of our neighbors. Perhaps the best way we can bless Israel is to encourage her to remember, as she deals with her neighbor Palestinians, the profound teaching on justice that the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully as an inestimably precious gift to the whole world.
Historical honesty compels us to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other. The only way to bring the tragic cycle of violence to an end is for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a just, lasting agreement that guarantees both sides viable, independent, secure states. To achieve that goal, both sides must give up some of their competing, incompatible claims. Israelis and Palestinians must both accept each other's right to exist.
It's about time that a moderate evangelical voice spoke up in opposition to people like John Hagee, who said in response to this letter that:
Bible-believing evangelicals will scoff at that message. Christians United for Israel is opposed to America pressuring Israel to give up more land to anyone for any reason. What has the policy of appeasement ever produced for Israel that was beneficial?....
God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a covenant in the Book of Genesis for the land of Israel that is eternal and unbreakable, and that covenant is still intact.... The Palestinian people have never owned the land of Israel, never existed as an autonomous society. There is no Palestinian language. There is no Palestinian currency. And to say that Palestinians have a right to that land historically is an historical fraud.
Hagee's group, Christians United for Israel, was recently exposed in a video that's travelling the web. Max Blumenthal of Huffington Post visited the most recent CUFI conference in Washington, D.C., and produced Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israell Tour.
Blumenthal writes about CUFI's agenda:
But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. - must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
The most repugnant part of the video comes when Joe Lieberman, modern Orthodox Jewish Senator from Connecticut, extolls Hagee as a "modern-day Moses." To think that I once supported Lieberman for President!
I think that this is particularly important because it shows that evangelical Christianity is not wedded to one particular political stance - right-wing Republicanism. It is also important because it demonstrates how cynically people like Hagee are using Jews like Lieberman (and vice versa). Hagee really would like to see Lieberman convert to Christianity, but he won't say it in public because he wants to use Lieberman to push his own end-times theology. Lieberman won't admit how crazy Hagee's theology is, and how dangerous it is for Jews, because he wants Hagee's support for Israel. For him, it's not important what a person's motivation is for supporting Israel - the support is the only important thing, even if barely under the surface what the support really means is the desire to see all the Jews gathered into Israel at the location of the last battle where most of them will be killed. He and other Jewish leaders like him (David Harris of the American Jewish Committee for one - I heard him speak last year in Ithaca) don't take the evangelicals' theology seriously because they are so eager for their support of Israel. I think that they are making a historic mistake in not delving deeper into these particular evangelicals' motives and theology, and I don't really understand it, given how sensitive they usually are to any hints of anti-semitism. And what could be more anti-Jewish than crafting a vision of the end-time that results in the deaths of most of the Jews of the world?