Unholy alliance: evangelical zionists and pro-Israel campus groups

http://newvoices.org/2012/06/14/0161-2/

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this piece, CUFI has written an official response, which we have published here.

As the farmer walked through his fields, he spotted a freezing viper. Taking pity on the snake, he placed the shivering reptile in his coat. Upon warming, the snake bit the man. As the farmer died, he realized his own fault: “I knew it was a snake when I picked it up.”

This fable characterizes the unholy alliance between Jewish pro-Israel organizations and Evangelical Zionist organizations here at Portland State University—and nationally.

*****

For Jews, a relationship with any Christian groups is always one of mixed emotions. Shaking hands with someone who expects your eternal damnation is a hard pill to swallow—even though most contemporary Christians no longer believe Jews are marked for Hellfire, it’s a hard historical assumption to shake.

It’s made easier because many Jews and Christians—especially mainline protestants such as Methodists and Presbyterians—share core, fundamental values such as social justice, liberal politics and a respect for human rights. Evangelical Christians, including the growing Zionist subset, hold apocalyptic biblical viewpoints.

Evangelical Zionists hold views that fundamentally clash with Jewish opinions on a whole host of social and civil issues. Even their pro-Israel position contrasts with that of most Jews. Evangelical Zionists support far-right wing, “Greater Israel” positions that do nothing to advance peaceful coexistence with Palestinian and Arab neighbors. Yet, in the 2011 American Jewish Committee Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, 51% of Jews agreed that Israel should dismantle at least some of the settlements as part of a final status deal with the Palestinians.

This relationship is a moral and practical dead-end. The partnership between evangelical Zionism and the Jewish community is a relationship that will not bear fruits for the American Jewish community’s largely left-of-center Israel advocacy goals.

*****

“Let Knowledge Serve the City” is the motto of Portland State University. Billing itself as an urban university—comprising several square blocks of downtown Portland—its motto is fitting. As a student of its halls, the phrasing of this motto was always a point of intrigue for me: Why should we merely allow knowledge to serve the city? Why not a more active phrasing?

Though not as inspiring as it could be, the motto makes sense for the campus. Most people at Portland State are transfer students just trying to complete their degrees—preferably with a minimum of student protests, club fairs and football games.

This environment makes it difficult for pro-Israel groups to engage in traditional hasbara—the lectures and pizza parties synonymous with pro-Israel college activism—or even to try more dynamic forms of advocacy such as interfaith relationships. For example, although a relationship is blossoming between the Jewish Student Union and the Arab-Persian Culture Club, this partnership avoids the Israel/Palestine debate completely.

There is one Zionist group on campus that finds no problem galvanizing supporters, funding activities or creatin­­g controversy: Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Born out of a dream by right-wing fundamentalist televangelist Reverend John Hagee, CUFI’s national board is a who’s who of neo-conservative and evangelical leaders including Jonathan Falwell, son of the late Reverend Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer, president of the right-wing political origination American Values.

CUFI’s reading of the New Testament prophesies that the mass deaths of ingathered and unconverted Jews in the Holy Land will precipitate the End Times. That their Evangelical Zionist partners hold by this tenet is conveniently overlooked by Jewish pro-Israel groups. However, it should be a warning sign for the pro-Israel crowd: They are in bed with a movement anchored overwhelmingly by evangelical Christians—both in funding and leadership.

They believe in a literalist interpretation of the Bible that commands them to lobby for the “right” of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria (the preferred term for the West Bank among right-wing pro-settler groups like CUFI). For right-wing Jews with paranoia-inducing memories of the less-than-friendly Israel policies of former Secretary of State Jim Baker, it’s a wet dream to see Christians (and Republicans) setting up funds to support individual Settlements, as CUFI advertises on their website. The notion of a two-state solution is obviously excluded from their worldview.

CUFI takes their mission seriously; their alliances with pro-Israel groups run deep. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a speaker at CUFI’s conference this year, and several CUFI board members attended the 2007 AIPAC conference. That the largest Zionist organization in America is no longer AIPAC, but a right-wing, evangelical Christian organization, speaks to the unfettered rise of Christianity in the pro-Israel community. Hagee is empowered by Jewish groups that compare him to Moses, participate in CUFI events and bestow leadership awards on him. In doing so, they provide legitimacy to his agenda.

To many apologists, the fact that CUFI is pro-Israel excuses Hagee’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. Hagee said in an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, “There are 1.3 billion people who follow the Islamic faith, so if you’re saying there’s only 15 percent that want to come to America or invade Israel to crush it, you’re only talking about 200 million people. That’s far more than Hitler and Japan and Italy and all of the Axis powers in World War II had under arms.”

That their refusal to accept the two-state solution is also at odds with the policy of most American Jews and most Israelis—not to mention the official policies of both the U.S. and Israeli governments—finds no retort in the pro-Israel community. It’s no wonder that a 2008 J Street poll showed American Jews oppose a relationship with CUFI by a margin of 4-to-1.

At Portland State, pro-Israel groups seem to be eschewing the fact that a majority of American Jews are against any coalition with fair-right Christian Zionists. While CUFI members are commonplace at Hillel events, newly formed campus pro-Israel group With Israel, was the first organization to work with CUFI on pro-Israel issues.

Jewish Student Union (JSU) officers attending a Hasbara Fellowships event received a note from a pro-Palestinian activist challenging their pro-Israel views. According to JSU officer Max Werner, the message was inflammatory—not an olive branch of any sorts. Some JSU officers felt the need to respond while others felt that that this type of tactic—meant to garner a reaction—should go unanswered.

That ideological disagreement set the stage for some JSU officers to form their own group to promote Israel on campus and combat anti-Israel sentiments. With Israel was born. While most officers and members have Jewish heritage, a non-Jewish student, Brittany McKay, heads With Israel.

According to Werner, several national hasbara organizations were quick to try and recruit With Israel. In an attempt to keep from alienating potential pro-Israel students, With Israel rebuffed attempts to charter with larger organizations; they hoped to create a large tent for all to gather under in support of Israel.

But if the J Street poll is correct and 80 percent of American Jews oppose an alliance with CUFI, With Israel is building a much smaller tent than they purport to. With Israel officers are extremely friendly with CUFI officers, going as far as to appear on stage at CUFI events. Their official policy of non-affiliation is a very small detail; the fact that With Israel officers are so friendly with CUFI makes an official relationship unnecessary.

In May, CUFI sponsored a talk by Christian Broadcast Network analyst Erick Stakelbeck, known for his Islamaphobic viewpoints. (He once referred to Dearborn, Mich. as “Dearborn-istan” because of its large Muslim population.) With Israel released a statement in line with their goal of remaining unaffiliated, saying that the group would “not take an official stance of opposition with groups that we may or may not agree with.”

What happened next spoke to the actual relationship between With Israel and CUFI at Portland State: While With Israel did not co-sponsor the event, several officers attended the talk, even getting on stage to speak at Stakelbeck’s lecture. One With Israel officer even encouraged members, via Facebook, to replace defaced CUFI posters, asking members to “tell one of the officers… so that we may get the poster from you” and “put up a new copy of the poster.”

The response to Stakelbeck’s appearance was almost completely mute elsewhere in the pro-Israel community. A small group of Jews and non-Jews protested the analyst’s appearance with signs promoting Zionism without racism. Another recent addition to Portland’s pro-Israel community, Young Adult Supporters of Israel (YASI), would not attend the counter-protest, citing a desire not to alienate the Christian Zionist community.

All this, despite the fact that, according to their closed-membership Facebook page, YASI claims to couple “creative and edgy tactics” such as “buy-cotts, flash mobs, ‘mic’ checks, walk-outs…” in support of their three tenets: combating the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS); supporting the two-state solution; and defending Israel’s right to defend herself. In light of that fact that CUFI’s founder and leader promotes a fundamentalist Biblical interpretation that precludes the two-state solution entirely, the opportunity to protest their speaker’s event seemed auspicious.

What YASI and With Israel have in common is a shortsighted desire not to disenfranchise any pro-Israel voices. It’s a nice image: A big tent with everybody in it. While it is true that we must sometimes partner with those who we disagree with, it is equally true that we are known by the company we keep. If pro-Israel groups continue to cater to CUFI, they will further alienate potential allies on the left—and the overwhelming majority of Jews and college students are situated firmly on the left. For a student or youth organization to fraternize with a far-right, anti-Muslim group is a tactical mistake born out of perceived desperation.

The fervor with which pro-Israel groups cater to Christian Zionists is no surprise. Israel advocates feel as though their backs are against the wall, overwhelmed by a chorus of anti-Israel voices on campus. In reality, that chorus is loud, but very small.

The notion of a “burning campus,” one where Jews fear anti-Semitism and are afraid to represent pro-Israel viewpoints is overblown according to the David Project. A campus-focused Israel advocacy organization, the David Project released a “White Paper” earlier this year, plotting a new map for Israel advocacy on campus: “Others, mainly professionals in pro-Israel organizations on campus, think we are winning the battle because not a single effort to boycott Israel at a significant university has come to fruition. They cite polls showing that the vast majority of students don’t buy the argument that Israel is an apartheid state.”

Considering the actual state of affairs on most campuses—and at PSU where not a single anti-Israel motion was ever even promoted—it seems that pro-Israel groups are not so desperate for friends that they must align themselves with CUFI.

There are other options. Groups like J Street advocate for Israel while respecting the humanity of Muslims and Palestinians and the necessity of the two-state solution. Remaining unaffiliated—as With Israel purports to be—is another path to campus activism that will allow pro-Israel groups to be savvy with campus associations.

Otherwise, pro-Israel groups in Portland—and nationally—will continue to pick up the snake, perplexed at the bite marks.

Gabriel T. Erbs is a student at Portland State University and the editor of the Global Jewish Voice, an international Jewish student blog published by New Voices, the World Union of Jewish Students and AJC ACCESS. Email him at gabriel@newvoices.org.

CLARIFICATION, 6/19/12: The article mentions information about the YASI Facebook group. All information about the Facebook group was obtained in an interview with a member of the group.

20 Older Responses to “Unholy alliance: evangelical zionists and pro-Israel campus groups”

  1. Ben Weiner
    June 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Gabe it saddens me that such a brilliant individual like yourself can write such a short sighted article such as this. I am speaking mainly as a member of YASI.…I don’t think you painted YASI in an accurate image…YASI has members from the far left to the far right in its organization. To correct your article: We refrained from protesting Stackelbeck NOT because we did not want to alienate the Christian community, but because the speaker did not violate the three YASI tenants. There was no other reason why we did not protest. We are not allied with CUFI, the Jewish Federation, AIPAC, J-street, or anyone else. Moreover, our group does not want to alienate ANYONE that goes against our 3 tenants (that includes any member in CUFI, J-street, AIPAC, etc)….On the contrary, YASI will alienate anyone, including members in CUFI, that go against our 3 tenants. Erick Stackelbeck did not violate those tenants. In fact I asked for evidence from you to show that he stands against our 3 tenants, and nothing was delivered to me other than a poorly worded statement he made about Dearborn, Michigan, calling it “Dearbornistan”, and a bunch of accusations that he was a “racist” (yet there was no evidence to support that accusation). I’d also like to point out that you are a member on the YASI Facebook page. A group that you call “closed” although we haven’t denied access to anyone to be in the group (including yourself). Anyone can enter the group….YASI has asked you, personally, to help program, participate in and plan events.… That offer is still open. I still have not received a response from you. You are right when you say “While it is true that we must sometimes partner with those who we disagree with, it is equally true that we are known by the company we keep.” I hope you really take those words to heart and that it is not just lip service. After all, the protest you attended for Erick Stackelbeck was coordinated by SUPER. A group that does support boycotts on Israel (not just the settlements) and many of their members believe that Tel Aviv is a settlement. I honestly hope to see you at YASI’s laid back, non-political, BBQ on Saturday so that you can see first hand what YASI is all about. We are a group for the entire pro-Israeli community, not just YOUR pro-Israeli community. Our members understand its meaning, I hope someday you will as well.

  2. Ben Weiner
    June 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    YASI is also unaffiliated

  3. Elke Weiss
    June 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Is it fair to say that CUFI’s strong leadership in Zionism is because many Jewish student leaders have dropped the ball on Israel?
    Yes, the voices hating Israel are small, but the apathetic group is very large. CUFI stepped up to fill a void that Jewish students have mostly left.
    “For example, although a relationship is blossoming between the Jewish Student Union and the Arab-Persian Culture Club, this partnership avoids the Israel/Palestine debate completely. ”
    If the JSU isn’t discussing the issue and setting the agenda, they have no one to blame but themselves if CUFI becomes the voice for Israel on campus.

  4. Gabriel T. Erbs
    June 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I did not attend the protest of Erick Stackelbeck.

  5. Amy Albertson
    June 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Gabe, thank yo for taking your time to address the issue of pro-Israel advocacy on college campuses, specifically Portland State. However, there are quite a few inaccuracies in your reporting and I’d just like to publicly air these corrections so that others reading this article will know the truth.
    1) The Jewish Student Union at PSU is not a pro-Israel group. It does not take any official stances on the conflict, Israel, or other Israel related issues. It is solely an organization to foster Jewish culture and life on campus. That being said, the event put on with the Arab-Persian Student Association (not Arab-Persian Culture Club) is to do exactly what you said: avoid the Israel/Palestine debate completely. Events and partnerships like these are to remind students that we are all just people going to the same school, taking the same classes, and that we can all be friends with each other despite our ethnic, religious, and/or cultural backgrounds.
    2) With Israel is co-led by myself and Brittany McCay. In addition, our leadership includes an agnostic student, a very left-wing Jewish student and a more centrist Jewish student.
    3) Yes, I (a leader in both the JSU and With Israel) got up on the stage at the Stakelback talk, but I did so on behalf of JEWISH STUDENTS. I was commenting on the incident of a Swastika being drawn in the middle of a Star of David. I encouraged members of With Israel on Facebook to replace defaced WITH ISRAEL posters, and not CUFI posters. If you refer to my post, you will see that there is a downloadable PDF for our poster only.
    4) You state that PSU “not a single anti-Israel motion was ever even promoted”. This is incorrect. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the on-campus group Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER), but they have hosted quite a few events encouraging the boycotting of Israel, among other anti-Israeli ideas. I personally have been to a few of their events and can testify that there is indeed anti-Israel sentiment, as well as anti-Semitic sentiment present on the PSU campus.
    ____________________________________________________________________
    Additionally, I’d like to comment on the fact that yes, as a leader of both a Jewish organization and a pro-Israel organizationon campus, I am also friends with Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Asians, WASPS, etc, etc, etc. In fact, my mother is a Catholic and my father is a Jew. Am I not supposed to be friends with someone just because they are a Zionist Christian and I am a Jew? If that is the way you choose your friends, then I am sad for you because you’re missing out on some wonderful people.
    Finally, I’d just like to comment on your criticism of both With Israel and YASI’s (two groups who I am fairly positive you are a member of) “short-sighted desire not to disenfranchise any pro-Israel voices”. I disagree that this goal is short-sighted. If anything, it is refreshing and necessary to the debate about Israel on college campuses and around the world. As with any issue, there are many variations of opinion, even from the same side of the circle. Regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict, the pro-Israel community in Portland is too small to not be united. No, I do not ever expect for everyone to agree on all of the intricacies of anything, but I do believe that we can get along, be friends (or at least friendly) and support each other, especially for the cause of supporting Israel.

  6. Harriet Cooke
    June 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Brilliant and informative article. I personally value the idea of not alienating the other long enough to create a relationship and have heart-to-heart conversations about the commonalities and the differences, then seeing where the chips fall as to whether to continue the relationship. Your article would make a good springboard for such communication.
    And though I love the story of the viper, there are those who learn how to play the music to which the viper likes to dance. Strange partnerships, when possible, could be seeds for collaborative sorts of efforts that might help create true and enduing peace.
    But the snake charmer much know more than to simply put a viper in his pocket. He needs to learn the heart and ways of the snake.

  7. Gabriel T. Erbs
    June 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Thanks for all your comments.
    A simple list:
    1) I never claimed JSU was a pro-Israel group. Max Werner is a JSU officer and he felt comfortable with my mention of the group in this article. Not sure why that was inaccurate.
    2) Thanks for telling me more about the leadership structure. I’ll post a correction soon.
    3) This is an excerpt from your post in question. I think it speaks for itself which was my point: “Shalom All! I just wanted to let everyone know that our friends at CUFI (Christians United for Israel) experienced the defacing of one of their event posters on campus. We are taking care of the incident and will be reporting it to the University. That being said, we’d like to ask everyone to be on the lookout for this! If you see one of ours (or CUFI’s) flyers around, please check to make sure it has not been written on.”
    4) My comment about a single anti-Israel motion referred to “motions” not events. Motions are parliamentary procedures in campus government. Events are not. At other campuses anti-Israel groups are passing amendments to school law, not at PSU
    As for the substance of your last comment, I think all Jewish people have Jewish and non-Jewish friends. Nowhere did I advocate breaking of social connections–just that CUFI’s evangelical and fundamentalist tenets–as stated on their website and at speeches–contrasts with core Jewish values as well as the majority of Jewish views on Israel.
    While I was invited to join the Facebook groups–that doesn’t disable me from having opinions about these groups. It’s been a new page for many pro-Israel groups to include dissenting opinions about Israel issues–I hope that will remain an integral part of Israel advocacy.

  8. Ben Weiner
    June 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    My apologies if you did not physically attend…in any event, you certainly urged people to go. And I know for a fact that there are people very close to you that did attend (there is video)…did you have any objection to their attendance of the protest? Based on your logic, that seems to be fair. That didn’t make it in the article though…

  9. David Olesker
    June 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Gabriel shares with many Jews suspicions of CUFI and both its attitudes and motives. Given our history with Christians such suspicions are hardly surprising. However, I’d urge him to read “Standing With Israel” by David Brog. He is the Jewish Executive Director of CUFI and his book supplies a Jewishly accessible insight into the theology of many pro-Israel Christians. He also addresses such issues as the gap between the politics of socially conservative Christians and socially liberal Jews on both domestic and Israel related issues.
    It’s a well though out and nuanced book and offers more than can be garnered from articles.

  10. Harriet Cooke
    June 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Next time I will read all the comments before adding one. Beautiful and intelligent responses and corrections from Amy and Ben. Hope you all get to discuss this more fully together, and edit each other’s pieces int he future before going to press. Your collaborative voice is so much stronger than each alone. Have fun at your BBQ.
    And regarding my previous post, lest it be misunderstood that I think I know anything about your organizations and am agreeing with comparing one of the cited groups as a snake, I am not. As a Jewish Renewalist I believe that we are all parts of “the story”, including the snake. And it is only the snake inside of each of us that is able to understand snake behavior in others, and to learn to dance to each other’s music. My favorite description of the positive value and requirement of the snake in development of full consciousness can be found in Rabbi David Cooper’s book, God is a Verb. Have fun with the chapter on the Garden of Eden pages 42-46.

  11. David Olesker
    June 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Gabriel shares with many Jews suspicions of CUFI and both its attitudes and motives. Given our history with Christians such suspicions are hardly surprising. However, I’d urge him to read “Standing With Israel” by David Brog. He is the Jewish Executive Director of CUFI and his book supplies a Jewishly accessible insight into the theology of many pro-Israel Christians. He also addresses such issues as the gap between the politics of socially conservative Christians and socially liberal Jews on both domestic and Israel related issues.
    It’s a well though out and nuanced book and offers more than can be garnered from articles.

  12. Amos Meron
    June 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Gabe,
    We had a lot of disagreements in the past that have created some very interesting discussion for me, and I am glad for that. However, I have to say I am surprised to see an article like this coming from you.
    Where are your journalistic ethics? You were part of the some of the happenings mentioned in your article, fiscally or not, and yet you write as if you’re an outside observer. Where is your full disclosure about your massive involvement in those actions? Where are your personal ethics? You are a member in the YASI Facebook group which is – as you mentioned – a close group, that is suppose to be a “safe zone”. You basically recorded our discussions w/o our consent and went behind our backs to post it at a public arena. The same thing you were preaching so hardly against it just a few weeks ago in the very same group.
    While I can agree with some claims you made and disagree with some others, the national/principle issue you bring here has very little to do with Portland State University. I would love to talk to you about that issue sometime (and I have some interesting takes on in), but your show of the supposedly micro-cosmos of the national issue here at PSU is between surreal to imaginary. Did you run out of subjects to write about? At least in my point of view, this is just another conspiracy theory.
    I just wish you would have put half the energy you put to promote dialogue between the two sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict to create dialogue between yourself and some of the groups you mentioned in your article, so you would know what you are talking about. I have gone to a lot of talks in town this past year that I don’t necessarily agree with (including some SUPER events, just to listen) and I encourage you to do the same.
    On top of it all, If you see yourself as a Pro-Israeli and don’t agree with everything every person brings to the table that’s fine, it’s even good, but in the words of Hillel the Elder: “don’t separate yourself from the community”.
    -Amos

  13. David Z
    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    This piece is so depressing. That a Jew can sit there and write that he has more in common with liberal Methodists than he does with the traditional values of the religion that his forefathers and mothers practices makes me sad. Although what you are calling Judaism is currently in the majority in America, it won’t be for long. Orthodox and Traditional Jews are the only group that are growing, and exponentially at that. Let me tell you what we believe (although Wikipedia could probably do you a world of good).
    We believe in a final war of gog and magog before the moshiakh comes. We believe in sexual morality. We believe that after the moshiakh comes we will control “Greater Israel.” We believe (and this is historical fact) that our homeland is Judea and Samaria — names that were not made up for the purpose of the identity politics that you liberals like to play (unlike “Palestinians”) — and the Philistine (and much later Roman) coast.
    We are not liberals on the modern sense. And we don’t believe in modern notions of social justice (though there are overlaps — see, e.g., works by Michael Brody). To the extent that we need a two-state solution or that the Israeli public wants the same, it is only because we are pragmatic and want peace, we love life because it is an opportunity to enjoy the gift G-d has given us and to serve Him. We do not want a two-state solution because of any philosohpical or theological truth. It is certainly not our ideal to have our homeland Judenrein.
    We have more in common socially with Evangelicals than with Reform. Our religions are totally different, but at least we both have a religion and believe in a G-d who spoke to Man and gave us direction. And they do believe we are damned if we don’t believe their nonsense, but as long as everyone is open about that (and they are), we can decided when and where to ally ourselves. Let me give you an example: the US allied itself with the mother of all evil countries led by a bloodthirsty paranoid dictator to defeat Nazi Germany. I think the Evangelicals are a little better than Stalin.
    And what is your analogy anyway? Who’s the snake? And who’s freezing to death? Israel is the one that needs help, if anybody does. Are we the snake? I assume you just are just trying to sound profound. So the Evangelicals are the snake. And what are they going to bite us with? Preaching? I think we’ll do just fine. If you are insinuating that they would do us any physical violence, I don’t think you really know any Evangelicals. To the extent they encourage us to move to Israel, they are only encouraging us to be better Jews.
    Or to put it simply: would I rather be friends with liberal Methodists and Presbyterians who share none of our values and want to destroy us and our relative safe haven of a country or would I rather be friends with Evangelicals who want us safe in Israel, with want more land than we even care for, but still want the opportunity to prattle on about J?

  14. Bob Horenstein
    June 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Allow me to weigh in here on the notion that partnering with Evangelical Christians is a “unholy alliance.” We Jews are often offended when we are stereotyped–why would we do that to other faith groups? The Evangelical Christian community is far from monlithic and their motives for supporting Israel (not all Evangelicals do, by the way) are varied, including commonality of values bewteen two democracies and seeing Israel as a strategic ally of the U.S. Others support Israel because in Genesis it says those blessing Israel will be blessed. OK, we may disagree with them, generally speaking, on social issues (e.g., gay rights) but we also disagree with Catholics and, to a large extent, Muslims (who tend to be conservative on social issues). Should we refrain from partnering or dialoguing with those groups, too?

  15. Robyn Gottlieb
    June 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    You guys are so worried about yourselves and CUFI that you missed the crux of the article—that by associating with right-wing groups like CUFI (by attending and promoting events and mocking those who oppose them) you are alienating those on the left, including many Jews.
    CUFI will be pro-Israel whether or not Jewish pro-Israel groups choose to affiliate with them. It’s those other people, who are becoming anti-Israel because of what they hear in school and because it seems that those who are pro-Israel are right-wing, that we need to reach out to. It’s the unaffiliated left-wing Jews that we need to reach out to. These are the people we need to worry about not alienating, not those who are already in pro-Israel groups.
    You are the ones being divisive and pushing people away, not this article. This article is just trying to get you guys to wake up to what you are doing. How can you claim this article is divisive, when you guys are already on the same side?

  16. Ira Erbs
    June 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    I feel that this article has accurately pointed out the need to question the real motives of evangelical groups who support Israel. The analogy of the frozen snake is apt. They publicly state their goals are for Jews to be in the Holy land for their End Times prophecies to come true. We are a means to their end. One can refute the possibility of the End Times and wink wink at this notion while “working” with groups who want us dead or become converts when the Time arrives ,but this is a dangerous game played out in history. One group thinks they can control the entity for their own gains, only to be destroyed by the host, One could minimize all this as conspiracy theories. That should give you comfort. I for one, prefer to let the snake freeze. We as Jews have been bitten one too many times

  17. Takamas
    June 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    I thought your readers would like to hear Hagee’s shocking statements about Judaism:
    http://blip.tv/davidhorowitztv/pastor-john-hagee-4427765 Just catch the section from 16:25 – 17:39.

  18. SactoDan
    June 15, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Much more dangerous than a methaphoric snake in one’s jacket is appeasing the snake in front of you who is threatening to kill you.

  19. Gabriel Erbs
    June 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Amos,
    I’m sure you are aware that accusing someone of an ethical breach is a serious thing to do.
    Consequently, I’d like to make it know that no information was taken from the YASI page (and to your accusation, no discussions recorded or quoted) save for the tenets of YASI, which were sent to me in an on-the-record interview with YASI’s Ben Weiner.
    I’d like to remind the comment section that this was an op-ed. An op-ed is an opinion piece by nature, not a news article bound to objectivity. No where do I claim that “outsider status” objectivity.
    This article was appropriately placed in the opinion section.
    Thank you.

  20. Gabriel T. Erbs
    June 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Bob, thanks for your comment.
    While the title literally refers to relations between Jews and Evangelical Christians, the article is clearly focused on Evangelical Christian Zionists. That group is fairly monolithic and overwhelmingly represented by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest Zionist organization in America.
    You are correct to say that the wider Christian community may hold a variety of views and differ in the nature of their support for Israel. Evangelical Christian Zionist support for Israel is based on an End Times and Dispensationalist theology. CUFI advocates policies that preclude the two-state solution entirely. That’s a sticking point for many Jews and the pro-Israel positions they hold.
    I also worry about the false analogy between a serious examination of Jewish-evangelical Christian Zionist ties, and condemning partnerships/dialogue with the Catholic and Muslim communities. In the vein of your comments about generalization, I think it’s worth mentioning that “Catholic” and “Muslim” represent a wide diversity of viewpoints, some worth dialoguing and some not.
    Thank you again for sharing your views.

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