July 24, 2009
Christians Gather to Influence Middle East Policy
More than 4,000 people attended John Hagee's Night to Honor Israel dinner in Washington D.C. earlier this week, according to Erick Stakelbeck's report for CBN news. Speakers at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event included Senator Joseph Lieberman, Fred Barnes, Gary Bauer, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (via satellite).
This year, CUFI delegates will ask their representatives on the hill to support Israel by respecting the government's decisions, and to support further legislative sanctions against Iran. Another topic of concern to CUFI and its pro-Israel members is America's foreign policy toward Israel undergo under the new administration. Hagee told Dan Gilgoff:
I have some concerns about President Obama's approach to peacemaking. He may believe that by securing concessions from Israel he will get leverage with which to win reciprocal concessions from the Arabs down the road. Yet I do not believe that the history of Arab-Israeli peacemaking to date supports this view.
Conservative Christian organizations that are pro-Israel might wield the political pressure Netanyahu is counting on in ongoing Middle East peace negotiations, Time reports:
Netanyahu will get strong political support within Israel for standing up to Washington on Jerusalem (as he has done by resisting pressure for a settlement freeze), and he expects that the more symbolically powerful issue of the Holy City will win him support in the U.S. from Jewish leaders and Christian conservatives. In introducing Netanyahu via a video link at the annual conference of his Christians United for Israel group, arch-conservative Pastor John Hagee promised the support of 50 million Christians for "Israel's sovereign right to grow and develop the settlements of Israel as you see fit and not yield to the pressure of the United States government."
The problem facing Obama is that pressing for a two-state solution has put him at odds with a reluctant Israeli government that has now chosen the emotive issue of Jerusalem as the test of how far he's willing to go.
Other Christian leaders have taken a different approach to supporting Israel. A 2007 letter to President Bush signed by 34 Evangelical leaders took a different approach to Middle East peace by expressing support of a two-state solution and stated that "both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine."