Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lavished praise on the Evangelical Christian
movement, and on a mission of approximately 800 members of Pastor John Hagee’s
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, in Jerusalem on Sunday
“Thank you for standing up for Israel,” Netanyahu said to
rapturous applause. “We are witnessing a dramatic transformation in the
relationship between Christians and Jews, who are focusing now on the common
values and the common future we both share.”
The prime minister also drew
attention to what he described as threats to the Christian community across the
Middle East, saying he was “proud that Israel is the only place in the Middle
East where Christians are free to practice their faith in complete
The CUFI mission – on its third visit to Israel – gave Netanyahu a euphoric welcome.
The evening was accompanied by the
mellifluous sounds of a Southern gospel quartet and a glowing tribute from Hagee
himself, who announced that his organization had reached one million members,
making it the largest pro-Israel organization in the US.
the current mission paid almost $4,400 each to come on the tour.
in 2006, CUFI is designed to provide a national association in the US for pro-
Israel churches to support the country. It uses its members to mobilize support
and lobby public officials and representatives to advance favorable public
policy and sentiment for Israel.
Referring to the Iranian nuclear
program, CUFI executive- director David Brog said that supporting Israel was of
special importance for Christians at this time.
“At a juncture of such
peril for Israel and the West, we are proud that we now have one million members
working diligently for a strong US-Israel relationship,” Brog said. “We were
gratified to be able to demonstrate our rock-solid support to Prime Minister
Brog also sought to dispel concerns about negative
theological motivations attributed by some to the Evangelical movement. He
labeled the claim that Evangelicals support Israel in order to herald the return
of Jesus and the conversion of Jews as “complete and utter nonsense,” and said
such claims were based on “ignorance.”
Christians, he said, do not
believe that anything on Earth can influence the messiah’s coming and that his
arrival will be at a preordained time.
Instead, he said, Evangelicals
support Israel because of a literalist interpretation of the Bible that views
the promises made to the people of Israel as still intact – as opposed to
”Replacement Theology,” which is widely held by many other Christian
denominations and posits that the Christian Church inherited the biblical
promises to the Jewish people.
Brog added that this sentiment was
combined with the belief that Israel’s cause was just, as well as a sense of
indebtedness to the Jewish people in the wake of historic Christian
anti-Semitism and persecution.