Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a two-year old organization founded and chaired by Pastor John Hagee, organized a magnificent evening on Tuesday, July 17, 2007, for what has become a traditional Night To Honor Israel, held during the annual Summit this week at the Washington D.C. Convention Center.
Over five thousand Bible believing Christians and a smattering of Jews filled the enormous main hall of the convention center, to express their warmth and sincerity towards the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Christians from all 50 states of the union were represented.
Pastors, who serve as state directors, were individually recognized on stage to the accompaniment of The Cornerstone Singers and orchestra playing Hebrew/Israeli music. A procession of students ceremoniously carried beautifully adorned banners representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
At 7:15 PM, Pastor John Hagee welcomed the enormous crowd and passionately stated that never again would Christians look the other way while Jews were attacked, a reference to the passivity of Christian America during the Holocaust. "This time we will not be silent," and “Never again, Not on Our Watch” struck a stirring chord with his audience. His short and thunderous statements were only a prelude to his most inspiring speech, which followed later on in the program.
Pastor, Dr. Robert Stearns sang Hatikva - Israel’s national anthem – in Hebrew, while Randy Travis gave a special rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, the spiritual leader of Rodfei Shalom Synagogue in San Antonio, TX, a friend of Pastor Hagee, and the inspiration behind the founding of CUFI gave the invocation.
Gary Bauer, founder and president of American Values introduced Sallai Meridor, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., saying, “Tell the people in Israel that we are praying that they never give up even under American pressure. Never give up even one centimeter."
A cheering crowd waving Israeli flags welcomed the Israeli envoy. Meridor addressed the Iranian threat to Israel and the free world and pointed out that the combination of “fanaticism, terrorism, and nuclear capability pose the most serious threat to western civilization since the 1930’s.” He then added, “"We must prevent this nightmare, the world must act and act now."
Animated by a supportive audience Meridor shouted his pledge that Jerusalem would remain Israel’s eternal and united capital. “I wish all my Israeli friends could be here tonight to get strength, love, care and dedication from you.” He then thundered “I have two words (in Hebrew) for you: Todah Rabah (thank you very much).”
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu addressed the audience via satellite, reinforcing Meridor’s dire warnings about Iran. He warned against inaction and stressed that the Europeans would resort to appeasement and America alone could and must lead the struggle against a nuclear Iran.
David Brog, Executive Director of CUFI gave a passionate introduction to Pastor John Hagee. Approaching the podium, Pastor Hagee, his voice quivering with excitement, charged, “It is 1938 all over again, Iran is Germany, Ahmadinejad is Hitler and he is talking about killing the Jews. The only way to prevent a nuclear war is to make certain it never starts.” Hagee then added, “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not give in to sanctions. It is time for America to adopt Senator [Joseph] Lieberman's words and consider a military pre-emptive strike against Iran."
Attendees, who would be heading up to the “hill” the following day, were asked to urge members of Congress to tighten economic sanctions on Iran, to pass the Iran Counter Proliferation Act that would impose stricter sanctions on Iran and on states that assist Iran’s nuclear program and, to call for divestment from Iran, a country which Pastor Hagee compared to Nazi Germany in its threat to the Jewish people.
Earlier in the day summit delegates were pleasantly surprised by an unscheduled visit from presidential contender Senator John McCain. Touching on Iran, McCain said, “Tehran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons clearly poses an unacceptable risk. Protected by a nuclear arsenal, Iran would feel unconstrained to sponsor terrorist attacks against any perceived enemy. Its flouting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would render that regime obsolete, and could induce Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others to reassess their defense posture. Moderate Gulf states would have to accommodate the new reality, and the world would live, indefinitely, with the possibility that Tehran might pass nuclear materials or weapons to one of its allied terrorist networks. Coupled with its ballistic missile arsenal, an Iranian nuclear capability would pose an immediate existential threat to the State of Israel.”
Summarizing his position on Iran McCain said, “And every option must remain on the table. Military action isn’t our preference. It remains, as it always must, the last option. We have some way to go diplomatically before we need to contemplate other measures. But it is a simple observation of reality that there is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that, my friends, is a nuclear-armed Iran. The regime must understand that it cannot win a showdown with the world.”
In ending his speech, McCain summarized, “The bond between America and Israel is not just a strategic one, though that is important. The more profound tie between our two countries is a moral one. We are two democracies whose alliance is forged in our common values. To be proudly pro-American and pro-Israeli is not to hold conflicting loyalties. It is about defending the principles that both countries hold dear. That is why today I stand as I believe so many of you do: a Christian, proudly pro-American and proudly pro-Israel.”
Pastor Hagee, not one to mince words, then spoke of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “Israel has an enemy in America called Jimmy Carter,” and called on Carter to “disclose how much money the Carter Center receives from anti-Israel sources in the Middle East.”
Alluding to the recent pressure the Bush administration has put on Israel to hasten the establishment of a Palestinian state led by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, Hagee cautioned, “"I am concerned that there soon will be an attempt to parcel out parts of Israel in order to appease others...” Hagee then called on President Bush to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“People ask me why we support Israel, “Hagee quipped rhetorically,” The answer is because we are Bible-Believing Christians. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Hagee then added, “There are two ways to live life: the Torah way and the wrong way…”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold spoke to the attendees about the Jewish historical connection and yearning for Jerusalem, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich followed him.
Charging that the U.S. has been waging a “phony war” against radical Islam since 9/11 and continues to lose ground to radical Islam, Gingrich asserted, “Instead of fighting to win, President Bush is now pursuing appeasement through a proposed Mideast peace conference.” Gingrich compared the current situation to the attempted appeasement of Nazi Germany at Munich before WWII, “We don’t have a peace process, we have a surrender process” Gingrich added. “The U.S. and western civilization are in a global conflict with radical Islam, and must choose between victory or surrender. Americans haven’t faced up to the danger that threatens them.”
Pastor Hagee’s concluding message to America was an exhortation to the thousands of Christians, “It's a new day in America. The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened!”
Asked to describe the Night in Honor of Israel, Brian and Chris Hennessy, father and son Philadelphia realtors and delegates to CUFI, said: “This was a major step forward in uniting Christian and Jewish voices on behalf of Israel, particularly when President Bush is pushing once again for Israeli concessions."