John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel has just announced that Glenn Beck will be the keynote speaker at its upcoming annual summit in Washington in July. Given the uproar from progressive Jews about Beck’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, it’s hard to see this as anything but a poke in the eye to Jews Hagee and his allies consider insufficiently “supportive” of Israel. From the announcement:
[I]n recent weeks, Glenn has emerged as a leading spokesman in defense of Israel and the Jewish people. No matter what your political leanings, there can be no denying the depth, sincerity and importance of Glenn’s stand for Israel.
Yes, Beck is a real friend of the Jews. Like when he compared Reform Judaism to radical Islam (he later apologized, but of course the damage was done). Or when he called George Soros the “puppetmaster,” advancing, in the words of Simon Greer of the Jewish Funds for Justice:
a world view that ultimately places Jews like Soros in the crosshairs, not unlike what we saw with Father Coughlin in the 1930s or the John Birch Society in the 1950s. Byron Williams, a Beck acolyte who recently engaged in a shoot-out with police on his way to kill “people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU,” shares his hero’s hatred of Soros and other “progressives.” Given the more than 40 percent of Jews self-identify as liberal, this hatred targets us.
Hagee claims to love the Jews and Israel, too, but as I’ve written time and time again, his vision is not born of a love or appreciation of Jewish culture, history, or theology, except to the extent that he can twist it to advance his eschatological beliefs. The Jews are pawns in his end-times scenario. For the Jews who have defended him on the grounds that he genuinely loves Israel: he genuinely loves a vision of Israel where all Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians are shoved aside to make room for what he believes is a biblically prophesied in-gathering of Jews in advance of the end of days. Sure, the supporters of the occupation love it; why not? He supports their political ambition of an endless occupation, triumphalism, and no peace with the Palestinians.
This isn’t dangerous, as some argue that Hagee’s critics maintain, because Hagee’s intentions are to convert the Jews. No, this is dangerous because it promotes war, death, and destruction as a legitimate means to a religious end that Hagee believes is very real: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Hagee and Beck are soulmates; Hagee has appeared on Beck’s show many times, including in 2007 when Beck was still on CNN. Beck once opened an interview of Hagee as someone “some say is a crazy man,” a bit of prophetic wisdom for which Beck could be given credit. Now Beck seems more enamored of Hagee’s end-times theories than ever before.
Republican presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, have long cozied up to Hagee, with not even a whiff of the scrutiny Barack Obama faced in 2008 over his relationship with Jeremiah Wright. But as I wrote in 2008, at the height of the Wright frenzy, Wright’s “God Damn America” theodicy is really no different than Hagee’s. Hagee, after all, believes that God might smite America for insufficiently “supporting” Israel (meaning supporting an end to the occupation) or for failing to militarily strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. There are certain things it’s apparently acceptable for God to smite America for, but not others. Indeed I met a woman at Hagee’s church in 2006 who believed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.
Just like Jeremiah Wright couldn’t possibly love America, the Jews Hagee and Beck consider inadequately Jewish couldn’t possibly love Israel and therefore aren’t “friends” of Israel like the esteemed Glenn Beck is.