The Hagel opposition in the Senate is strongest on the right, of course, and no one should ignore the role of the Pastor John Hagee's rapture-ready Christian Zionist advocacy organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which hosted an "emergency summit" days before the now infamous Senate confirmation hearing on Hagel.
While the leading Israel lobby group AIPAC has maintained that it is neutral on Hagel's nomination to be secretary of Defense, 400 of CUFI's Christian leaders and some rabbis, too, from 46 states descended on Capitol Hill, "swarming Senate offices" in fierce opposition to Hagel. (Read Ron Kampeas's report here.)
How does the Israel lobby work? Check out the above video of Hagee bragging on his methods of congressional persuasion, back in 2008. What follows is a transcript of the conversation with Daystar television host Marcus Lamb, beginning with Hagee talking about his visit to AIPAC, the lead Israel lobby group:
Hagee: They stood up and gave a thunderous applause of the things that was said. The Jewish leaders from all over America wrote me and said it was a historic day because you brought God's presence to AIPAC and they said it was the turning of the tide for the Jewish community in America realized it was a new day where Christians truly were standing up for the Jewish people without a hidden agenda, without trying to get something for it. And it is a new day as people go to these 70 'Nights to honor Israel' that we've had all over the nation. As pastors across the nation join Christians United for Israel and if you are a pastor watching this telecast and you want to become a part of Christians United for Israel I want you to go on line to CUFI.org or call me tomorrow and tell me who you are. I want to know your name because we have now 80,000 spiritual leaders in this nation and some of those spiritual leaders have a million and a million and a half names on their mailing list and email and we are talking to twenty eight to thirty eight, twenty eight to thirty million people every Monday morning in the intelligence report that I send out all over the nation. And when we go to Washington July 21, 22, 23 we are going before the government, just like Esther went before the government.
Hagee: It's a practical effort to fulfill Isaiah 62; for Zion's sake I will not be silent and I will not be quiet. Israel needs a strong voice in government other than themselves.
Lamb: Right, that's right
Hagee: When a senator sees Mr. Goldberg coming he knows he is for the Jewish people but when he sees, when we took our Texas delegation of 850 people and our Senators saw them they thought 'this is the whole national organization,' I said 'No, these are Texans that vote for you or against you based on your position of Israel.' I said, 'those two television cameras up there are recording what you are about to say and you live or die based on your support of Israel; you're on.'
Hagee: Whoa he walked up, I wanna tell you he was enthusiastic about it. But that's what Israel needs in Washington is a voice. Washington doesn't care if we go up there and sing Amazing Grace, they could care less. When you go in their office and say 'I live in your district and I am here as a Christian to stand up for the nation of Israel.' We give them talking points about what to say so every senator, every congressman hears the same message. But it's very important that a Christian voice is practically doing something.
Marcus Lamb: That's right, to benefit the Jewish State.
You live or die based on your support of Israel. How simple is that? None of this nightflower routine. And the talking points are streamlined-- "I live in your district and I am here as a Christian to stand up for the nation of Israel"-- so there's no mistaking, no wishy-washy stuff when the senators appear before the cameras.
Because I know how thrilling it is following CUFI, don't miss this other blast from the past video (2007). Hagee introduces former and future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addresses the crowd (@ 6 minutes): "The greatest threat we've faced in 100 years" is, you guessed it, Iranian missles.
No better friends than...CUFI.....this common bond between us now stands as the pivotal axis
(Did he mean axis or access?) And don't forget David Brog, executive director of CUFI. Other parts of the Israel lobby have remained neutral, or seemingly neutral for Hagel. Not Brog, as the Weekly Standard reminds us:
“CUFI opposes the nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. While we admire his past service to our country, his record concerning Iran and Hezbollah indicates an unacceptable blindness to the greatest security threat of our day.”
For more understanding of why Christian Zionists oppose Hagel’s nomination check out Jay Sekulow "one of the 25 most influential Evangelical Americans," and Chief Counsel for Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Or this Jerusalem Post article on how modern Christian Zionism was birthed, and why.
Oh what a tangled web!
(Hat tip Niko)