Recent events have propelled Christians United for Israel (CUFI) to the front row of pro-Israel organizations.
The group advertised last week’s Washington D.C. Summit, held July 21, as a more compact two-day program. Last year’s conclave offered a three-day affair. But if anyone thought the faith-based pro-Israel organization was becoming less relevant, they would think otherwise after attending the latest confab.
At the very moment when the Jewish State was under a crushing vise of global criticism for its involvement in Operation Protective Edge, CUFI (pronounced koo-PHI and not koo-FEE) roused its American heartland membership in loud, rollicking support of Israel. It did so in the pivotal capitol of Washington D.C. at a pivotal time.
Led by firebrand evangelist Pastor John Hagee, some 4,800 foot stomping, shofar-blowing Christian delegates traveled from across the nation and some from overseas to attend the non-stop cavalcade of podium grandiloquence, towering video effects, mesmerizing Israeli music, and special informational sessions. Part tent revival and part political salvo, CUFI’s Washington Summit is patterned after the mega-gatherings staged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the same hall. CUFI speakers brought clarity and context to its attendees in the midst of the latest fog of the latest Arab-Israeli war.
Indeed, at the very hour CUFI’s convention gaveled open, the Jewish State was fiercely fighting moment-to-moment terrorist threats scampering over the Gaza border fence, paddling in from the sea, streaking in from the sky, and tunneling beneath the ground. Moreover, Jerusalem was contending with a well-financed highly-politicized adverse humanitarian political machine supported by American tax-deductible 501(c)(3) donations. So every round of CUFI applause and utterance of support was considered a precious gesture to beleaguered Israelis who right now need a friend.
CUFI’s long A-List roster of speakers included media personalities deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens from The Wall Street Journal, Bill Kristol from The Weekly Standard, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer from PBS. No fewer than five members of Congress attended.
Particularly on fire were two speakers: Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of President of Major Jewish Organizations and investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck from Christian Broadcast Network. Both wowed the crowd with history, insight, and reason as Israel tried to justify its right to exist–free from terrorism robustly financed by Qatari money and others.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time, via taped message, to thank the evangelical crowd for standing by Israel during its hourglass of need. He spoke from Israel, bunkered in a secure room at the height of the conflict that day. To thunderous applause, Senator Lindsay Graham exhorted the Israelis in their Gaza strategy to “go as far as you need to go, and do what you’ve got to do.”
Ambassador Ron Dermer not only exhilarated the crowd, but felt so comfortable with the audience that when he was heckled on three separate occasions by pro-Hamas Palestinian protestors, he defiantly talked back drowning out the disruptors as they were being hustled from the auditorium. Dermer felt so comfortable with the audience that he openly and repeatedly referred to the hecklers as “moral idiots” as cheering crowds chanted “Israel! Israel!”
Honored special guests were Jewish philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam who were lauded with a gold award for helping charitable causes.
More than just lip service and sloganizing, CUFI announced several major initiatives. CUFI’s leadership acknowledged from the podium that there was a distinct disconnect with the younger Christian generation — a group they call “the millennials.” Sons and daughters are increasingly detouring from the path their fathers walked, as is so common in generational divides. Increasingly the millennials are buying into BDS, anti-Israel distortions about international law and a rewriting of Israeli’s history.
Moreover, millennials are adopting wholesale rejection of Israel via a wave of campus teachings called “Replacement Theology,” which maintains God has forsaken Israel and His “covenant” with the Jews has been replaced by a new covenant with the Church. To counter Christianity’s internal upheaval about the Jewish State, the podium proudly acknowledged 800 campus representatives in attendance engaged in a bold new student-led initiative to combat BDS, anti-Jewish agitation, and a rash anti-Israel attacks on campus, from the dorm room to the classroom. This strategy involves talking back to biased professors and the entire notion of Replacement Theology.
The day after the celebration, CUFI’s membership swarmed into the halls of Congress to lobby their representatives from the heartland to stop funding the Palestinian Authority until it ceases paying terrorist salaries, and to stand with Israel’s in its fight against Hamas.
CUFI has proven that it is an expanding organization with a broadening agenda at the precise moment that Israel needs allies in every corner.
Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the international bestseller IBM and the Holocaust. This article is drawn from his just-released newsbook, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel.