According to a United Nations report, 971 Palestinian and Israeli children were killed between September 2000 -- the beginning of the second intifada -- and July 2007. Of those destroyed children, 854 were Palestinian. The intifada and the dying continue.
It is these children's lives that the evangelical political action committee, Christians United for Israel, is willing to sacrifice on the altar of its fundamentalist eschatology in the hope of bringing about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Pastor John Hagee, televangelist and pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, established CUFI in 2005. Hagee envisions the group as the Christian version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby whose political clout has a significant influence on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
The late Molly Ivins, a Texas political commentator and author, described Hagee as a "pre-millennial dispensationalist, whose theology focuses on selected apocalyptic passages of the Book of Revelation." In 1998, Hagee teamed up with Christian filmmakers to produce "Vanished in the Twinkling of an Eye," a "docudrama" about the tribulations following the Rapture.
Despite Pastor Hagee's obvious interest in eschatology, he insists that CUFI's support for Israel has nothing to do with end time prophecy. But in an unguarded moment Hagee set the truth free: "The judgment of the nations is going to happen as soon as Christ returns to Earth. As soon as he sets up his throne on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, he's going to rule the world with a rod of iron."
The problem with Hagee's version of the truth is the fact that the Temple Mount is Islam's third most sacred site and the location of the Dome of the Rock, the oldest extant Islamic structure in the world.
According to Judaism, the Temple Mount is where the final third temple will be rebuilt before the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Unfortunately for CUFI, the Second Coming of Jesus is on hold until the temple's completion, and that cannot happen until Islam is destroyed -- Hagee's holy grail.
Predictably then, the good pastor opposes any peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supports Israel's persecution and "imprisonment" of 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and advocates pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Iran. John Hagee lives, and his group exists, to light the fires of the Apocalypse using Israel as the match.
To get a candid look at Hagee's organization and its members, journalist Max Blumenthal took his cameras to the group's Washington-Israel Summit, held last July in the nation's capital.
His video, "Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour," opens with Blumenthal cornering disgraced former Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay and asking him how important the Second Coming is in his support of Israel. The "Hammer" replied, "Obviously, it is what I live for. Really, I hope it comes tomorrow."
Blumenthal mingled with the 4,500 CUFI rank and file attending the summit and asked their opinion on Armageddon and the identity of the Antichrist:
Q. "Are you looking forward to Armageddon?"
A. "I'm looking forward to Armageddon and the cleansing of the Earth."
Q. "Who is the Antichrist?"
A. "He will be a man of peace. So he will be one who has promoted peace for many years. The one who forces Israel into a peace treaty with the Arabs is the Beast."
A. "Another reason that we support Israel is that we have a common enemy, the Muslims. We are fighting what is behind the Muslim people, which is Satan. Satan is actually the one who is trying to destroy the human race."
John Hagee is not without fawning friends in Washington. Presidential hopeful John McCain made a campaign stop at the summit. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt followed McCain to the podium. Sen. Joe Lieberman was there and described Pastor Hagee as an "Ish Elokim," a man of God. President Bush even sent along his best wishes.
On Feb. 27, Hagee endorsed John McCain for president at a news conference held at the Cornerstone Church. Sen. McCain graciously accepted, saying, "I'm very honored by Pastor John Hagee's endorsement today."
Pastor Hagee's right-wing Jewish allies will do well to consider that after Islam is destroyed and the temple rebuilt and Jesus comes and raptures all "true believers," all non-believers -- including Jews -- will be hunted down and converted or destroyed ... that is, those few who survived the nuclear holocaust that was prayed for and schemed for by the "Ish Elokim" and CUFI.
In the meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli children will continue to die singularly or in small groups by the bullets and the bombs and the fire sent their way on the wings of CUFI's prayerful machinations.
Robert Weitzel of Middleton is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience.
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