Sen. John McCain was wrong to reject the endorsement of Texas evangelist Rev. John Hagee.
Several years ago the Rev. Hagee delivered a sermon that was caught on tape in which he preached, "Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, 'My top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."
Anyone hearing the tape would conclude that Hagee is hostile to the Jews, but nothing could be further from the truth. He and his congregants are among Israel's strongest supporters. For religious reasons, they want Israel to rule supreme over all of the lands that made up the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea.
Evangelicals believe that the Messiah — Jesus Christ — cannot return to the earth until the Jews return to the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), they having been expelled by the Romans in 70 AD after the Second Temple, the one built by Herod, was destroyed.
Christian fundamentalists believe that every word of the Old and New Testaments represents the will of God. Other Christians believe that the words were inspired by God, but written by humans, and therefore are fallible.
Still others believe that the Bible, while sacred, is comprised of ancient myths and allegories and is intended to teach.
Hagee, being a fundamentalist, believes that each word is the word of God, and that everything that occurs on Earth happens as a result of God's direction. Events caused by people like Hitler, for some fundamentalists, are explained as a punishment visited by God on Jews who had fallen away from the faith and did not follow all of God's mandates.
Other fundamentalists would not accept that view, believing instead that while God makes it possible for one to do evil, He is angry when such evil is committed. The evildoer cannot be excused by saying, “God made me do it,” because human beings have free will. Finally, as a friend and scholar said, “We don’t know why God does what he does. Look at a rug on the reverse side and you see inexplicable knots of wool, while on the front, there is a beautiful pattern.”
Hagee apparently believes that Hitler was used by God to bring the Jews back to the promised land.
After enormous pressure from those comparing Hagee to Sen. Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement, stating that Hagee’s views as expressed in the years-old sermon being distributed on the Web are "crazy." McCain also said, "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them."
Hagee was not praising Hitler the monster, he was simply offering the fundamentalist opinion that Hitler was used by God to cause the creation of a Jewish state to which the Jews of the world would return.
Hagee's followers have supported the state of Israel in many tangible ways. Evangelicals continue to visit Israel as tourists even during the most dangerous times, which is more than can be said for some Diaspora Jews.
It has become fashionable among liberals, including Jews, to ridicule and denounce Hagee and other fundamentalists. I do not. I appreciate their support of the state of Israel and thank them for their enormous contributions to the Jewish state.
This is not to say that I agree with Hagee’s view of Hitler or his other views. For example, I strongly disagree with Rev. Hagee's statement that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for homosexual sin in New Orleans. I also deplore his reference to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore," for which he has since apologized.
In this dangerous world, Christians and Jews must come together to fight or common enemies. I've been working for years to strengthen the Christian-Jewish alliance, and I intend to continue to do so.
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