John Hagee, Pillar Of Tolerance

by Jonathan Chait | July 26, 2010

Last January, Jennifer Rubin wrote a lengthy story for Commentary lamenting the failure of American Jews to appreciate the greatness of Sarah Palin. (Jews, she argued in an odd adoption of anti-Semitic tropes, hate Palin because they're snobbish toward working-class people, hung up on credentials, and anti-military.)

Now Rubin, continuing her obsession with Republicanizing American Jewry, has a love letter to John Hagee in the Weekly Standard entitled "Onward Christian Zionists." If you had never heard of Hagee before reading Rubin's story, you'd think he was just some wildly philo-Semitic Christian minister who Jews seemed to distrust for no good reason:

Hagee approached the local Jewish leaders to suggest a gala fundraiser. He deadpanned, “They looked at me like I had a serious and contagious rash.” Hagee won them over, held a news conference with an orthodox rabbi announcing the event, and “within hours started receiving death threats at the church. We had the night for Israel, and it was terrific.” ...
Among Jews, there remains some skepticism and some outright hostility. Yet Hagee noted progress among those Jews whose support for Israel is grounded in their faith. “There is a level of comfort between Christians and Jews who believe in and accept the Torah as the word of God.” ...
Hagee is bracingly candid about the historical underpinnings of Jews’ mistrust:
I understand the fear of some Jewish people of Christians because for 2,000 years they were killed under the sign of the cross. When a Jewish person sees the cross he sees an electric chair. When a Christian sees a cross he sees hope and redemption. Two thousand years of suffering won’t be overcome overnight.
In addition, antipathy toward CUFI may be attributable partly to aversion to the rest of the Christian right’s political agenda. As for Jews’ concern about Christian proselytizing, Ortiz says suspicion fades “when they see we are not trying to convert them.”

Huh, so Jews apparently are suspicious of Hagee only because they harbor suspicions of all Christians. That's Rubin's argument, anyway. My alternate thesis is that Jews are very happy, and indeed grateful, to work with non-Jews. But they tend to be suspicious of non-Jews who say things like this:

Mr. Hagee quoted from the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, Mr. Hagee said in his sermon, according to the Huffington Post, “And they the hunters should hunt them,” arguing this referred to “the Jews.”
He went on to read from the same passage, “From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.”
“If that doesn’t describe what Hitler did in the Holocaust, you can’t see that,” Mr. Hagee said.

or this:

How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for his chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings he had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.

and, while it doesn't specifically single out Jews, there aren't a whole lot of Jews who would agree with statements like this:

All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

Rubin does not explain these statements away in her article, or argue that Jews should overlook the radical or bigoted views of anybody who supports Israel. She simply pretends those things never happened. If Jews are reluctant to form an alliance with Hagee, it's because they irrationally mistrust Christians. Once again, Rubin has diagnosed the stubborn prejudices of American Jews.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/76546/john-hagee-pillar-tolerance