'Christian AIPAC' to play important US role [p. 4]

October 29, 2006 03:59
2 minute read.

A newly-formed Evangelical Christian organization in the United States which aims to encompass all pro-Israel Christians there will soon become the single most powerful Christian organization in America, the group's founder said this weekend. "We are a one-issue organization - and the issue is Israel, Israel and then Israel," said Pastor John Hagee in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post from his church headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee, who launched the group "Christians United for Israel" earlier this year, said that it is a faith-based national association which unites all Christian supporters of Israel under one roof. The organization held its first national meeting in San Antonio last weekend where some 5,000 people - including 20 prominent Evangelical Christian leaders from across the US as well as a group of rabbis - gathered to honor Israel in a joint event. Hagee, a long-time advocate for the State of Israel, said that the event raised $7 million for various Jewish organization in Israel. He noted that the group was currently planning 36 "honor Israel" nights in major American cities in the coming year alone. The group's main focus is to lobby the US government on Israel-related issues. Its activities include weekly conference among senior church leaders about Israel-related events happening in Washington, as well as annual summer meeting of thousands of Christian leaders in the US capital with American legislators. This summer's meeting, which coincided with Israel's war in Lebanon, was used to urge the American administration to give the Israeli military the necessary time to respond to Hizbullah's unprovoked cross-border attack, he said. He noted that the US senators were "stunned" that so many Christian leaders had come to Washington together for Israel. Hagee noted that the organization was not going to Washington about any social agenda, which typically divides Christian Right and the American Jewish leadership, but strictly about one issue: Israel, an issue which he said was rallying together hundreds of thousands of people. About 60 million Evangelical Christians live in the US. Hagee, 66, is the president and CEO of Global Evangelical Television, which is broadcast to over 90 million homes in the US, and serves as senior pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church. He has led nearly two dozen solidarity trips to Israel, and has met with every prime minister since Menachem Begin. The establishment of what has been dubbed the "Christian AIPAC," after the powerful American Jewish lobby for Israel, comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and the Evangelical Christian community around the world. Earlier this year, the United States Congress announced the establishment of an "Israel Allies Caucus" meant to galvanize increasingly vocal Christian support for Israel around the world. The American congressional lobby is based on the formation of the Knesset's increasingly-influential "Christian Allies Caucus," the cross-party parliamentary lobby which works with Christian supporters of Israel around the world.

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