Piling on to Glenn Beck’s scheduled keynote speech to the upcoming Christians United for Israel conference, and his “Restoring Courage” rally in Jerusalem in August, CUFI founder John Hagee is hosting Beck for a conference call tomorrow so he can “address the mounting threats to Israel and what we can do to stand with Israel today.”
This comes on the heels of Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsement of Beck’s Jerusalem event. Lieberman once compared Hagee to Moses, “a man of God” who has become a “leader of a mighty multitude.”
The Beck-Hagee alliance dates back years, too, with Beck hosting the televangelist on his CNN program in 2007 to answer “honest questions” about whether “the apocalypse is almost upon us.”
The Hagee-Beck-Lieberman series of stunts is aimed at two audiences: Israel hawks who want to derail whatever shreds remain of a peace process, and biblical literalists who view all these events through the prism of prophecy and the end of days.
The two camps, through the work of Hagee and others, have long been friends of convenience, to no good end for the Israelis and Palestinians, or, for that matter, the world.
Hagee is probably the world’s best known, most politically connected Christian Zionist. (He recently signed on to Rick Perry’s “solemn assembly” coming up in August, an event sandwiched between CUFI’s annual conference and Beck’s Jerusalem rally.) He also has a long track record of leaning on his devotion to biblical prophecy to reveal his conspiratorial thinking about Jews, Muslims, and even Catholics. That would put him in good company with Beck, who despite being a convert to a religion that has faced discrimination from evangelicals and others, himself peddles in religious bigotry, including anti-Semitic tropes (such as George Soros being a “puppetmaster” of a “shadow government”) and Islamophobic conspiracy theories.
Lieberman? In a word, it’s a shanda. He’s Exhibit A in What’s Wrong With the Christian Zionist-Jewish Political Alliance: Jews who lionize religious demagogues to put a “godly” imprimatur on their refusal to support an end to the occupation, all while acquiescing to the stoking of apocalyptic panic. Will he compare Beck to Moses, too?
The American right freaked out recently over the Obama administration’s stance on Israel-Palestine. Mostly what you hear in the news are words like “betrayal” of America’s friend Israel. But scratch beneath the surface — not even very far — of Israel’s “friends” Hagee and Beck, and you’ll find conspiracy theories about what making peace with the Palestinians means. Peace treaties are negotiated by the Antichrist, who will attempt to annihilate Israel; Christ will return, “bringing the armies of heaven with him,” and will handily demolish the Antichrist and his army, flinging them in a sulfurous lake.
Hagee has been hammering at this for decades. His 1996 book, Beginning of the End: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Coming Antichrist, is a perfect example of how he juxtaposes his stature as a political player with his apocalytpic visions. On the one hand, he was ardently opposed to the Oslo peace accords Rabin signed; on the other, he makes sure to tell the reader how the two met on several occasions and that the late Prime Minister appreciated the televangelist’s “support” for Israel. But, as the subtitle of the book makes clear, the most important thing about Rabin’s assassination at the hands of a Jewish extremist is, in Hagee’s view, its role in setting biblical prophecy “on the fast track.” Rabin’s assassination would compel Israelis to more fervently seek peace, Hagee maintained, causing them to sign a treaty with the Antichrist.
Speaking of political assassinations, Beck recently stoked hysteria about the end times (without actually saying so) by discussing food shortages, catastrophic weather, and the possibility of the big, bad (unspoken: “one world”) government taking your gun. Maintaining that the entire world is moving in the direction of “civil unrest,” Beck fretted that the United Nations is making it “harder for you to get a gun.”
“Why would you need a gun?” Beck asked himself. “To prepare for tough times,” he answered, while pointing to photograph of President Obama and his director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein.
In Hagee’s view, peace with the Palestinians is contrary to God’s word, and if Israel signs any peace treaties, it will be with the Antichrist, a false prophet of peace who is in league with a coalition of Islamic nations. (You don’t have to work too hard to see how the myriad conspiracy theories about Obama could coalesce into one that he is playing the role of said false prophet.) Such a peace treaty will, in Hagee’s view, trigger a seven-year period of tribulation, which will include an “Islamic jihad against Israel.” All this will culminate in Christ’s return (everyone will know it’s him because the word “Lord” will be spelled on out his prayer shawl, according to Hagee) to vanquish the Antichrist at Armageddon, “the world’s most natural battlefield,” which will be “bathed in blood.” The Bible has predicted this, Hagee insists. “Mark my words,” he writes, “this battle of unsurpassed carnage is not a fable, it is a fact.”
Excessive attention was focused on Harold Camping last month, and his misguided attempt to predict the precise date and time of the Rapture. But if you think about scope and influence, Hagee’s views, which are no more based in reality than Camping’s, have a much greater reach. Bizarrely, while Camping was dismissed even by fellow evangelicals as a crank, Hagee is treated by many powerbrokers as a statesman.