Hagee: We don't tell Israelis what to do

Christian Zionist rebuffs Reform rabbi's criticism over statements urging retention of W. Bank territory.

"We do not seek to tell Israelis what to do," Pastor John Hagee told a group of reporters Monday, following claims made last week by the president of the Union for Reform Judaism suggesting that he and his organization, Christians United for Israel, were a threat to the country's security. Speaking from Israel, Hagee addressed a group of reporters in a joint conference call organized following statements made by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who spoke at the annual convention of Central Conference of American Rabbis in Ohio. He urged Reform rabbis to distance themselves from Christian Zionists and targeted Hagee in particular for comments he made about Catholics, Muslims and his rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "In making this allegation, Yoffie ignores CUFI's record of activism," said Hagee. "Instead he relies on a few quotes from me and others pulled out of context." "When it comes to issue of land for peace, it is true that I and other Christian Zionists have grown skeptical after watching the results of the withdrawal from South Lebanon and Gaza, but CUFI's philosophy has been that Israelis - and they alone - have the right to make existential decisions about land and peace," Hagee continued. To the extent that CUFI has taken "concrete action," Hagee said it has been "limited to asking the White House not to pressure Israel into making territorial concessions that she does not wish to make." In a phone conversation Monday, Yoffie stuck by his allegations, saying "the record is clear." "This is not a matter of a few statements here and there, these are consistent statements over a period of years demanding that territory should not be returned," said Yoffie. The rabbi pointed to a letter sent by Hagee to President George W. Bush in 2007 in which he claimed that territorial compromise was a policy of past. "The thrust of the letter calls on the president to reject territorial compromise," said Yoffie. "There is no ambiguity. They are pushing a particular agenda and demanding the president abandon his policy." "If that has changed and they are talking about deferring to the government of Israel, then I would welcome it," added Yoffie. Hagee denied having ever called the Catholic Church "the great whore," a "false cult system" and an "apostate church," but said he has used these terms taken from the Book of Revelations to refer to "all Christians who reject the Gospel and not any one church or denomination." "I must say that Rabbi Yoffie's speech demonstrates not only a lack of respect for me, but a troubling lack of respect for the truth," said Hagee. "I am deeply disappointed that Rabbi Yoffie would repeat this false charge without even bothering to check his facts. Had he done so, he would have found that I have never called the Catholic Church by these names." Asked to define Christian Zionism, Hagee said it is "the belief that every Jewish person has the right of return to Israel, and the right to live in peace and security within the recognized borders." Yoffie told The Jerusalem Post that he "tried to be very careful in checking [his] sources." Yoffie said Hagee had suggested meeting when he returned from Israel, which he would be happy to do.