As has happened since 2006, the largest pro-Israel American gathering comprised largely of non-Jews has once again taken place in the Washington DC Convention Center. Dynamic Christian Evangelist Pastor John Hagee and his million-plus strong organization Christians United for Israel opened the three-day conference on July 22 to an audience that surpassed 5000 supporters. On the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent Middle East stint, having been shuttling between DC and Tel Aviv many times over the past four months, CUFI’s founder believes that “Israel's security establishment is in a state of emergency. Israel is surrounded with enemies like never before.”
The conference lineup has speakers from every side of the political fence, Jewish and Christian alike. This year, Jordan Sekulow, the Executive Director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) will be speaking, as will Startup Nation Author Dan Senor, and Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, who has been traveling the United States recently raising awareness for Our Soldier’s Speak, an organization devoted to bringing “the proud truth of Israel's soldiers from the front lines of combat to the English speaking world,” to name but a few.
Glenn Beck is also expected, as is Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu via a live satellite feed from Jerusalem. The Night to Honor Israel, the summit of the summit, is expected to also be the largest CUFI has ever done.
Pastor Hagee has been vocal about his support for Israel and its government, and believes that no undue pressure should be placed on Israel to make concessions that may compromise Israel’s security and well being. With the seemingly strident efforts of Secretary Kerry, and the recent announcement by Netanyahu that there will be a settlement building freeze for now, Hagee wants to be sure through advocacy that the Palestinians understand that peace and concessions are a two-way street; a point that many involved with CUFI as well as those in plenty of other Israel advocacy circles often believe is overlooked by those pressuring Israel.
To ensure that Israel is not just seen as a political entity, in recent years, CUFI has increased its level of support for Israel and Jewish people by not only disseminating issues about Israel's politics and struggles, but by using its member base to make the Christian world more understanding and appreciative of the Jewish faith and its practices. Prior to the 2013 fast of Tisha B’Av this past July 16th, CUFI sent a note to its members alerting them to the tragedies that befell Jews on this day in history, and said, “Praise God that this 9th of Av of different. This 9th of Av millions of Christians around the world have pledged to our Jewish brothers and sisters- Never Again. Never Again will we be silent. Never Again will they be alone.”
CUFI has also begun an awareness campaign for Israel through its Mezuzah promotion - the little boxes associated with Jewish homes affixed to doorposts that contain the words of the "Shema" ("Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One" - Deuteronomy 6:9). CUFI asks supporters to “take [their] place as "watchmen on the wall" ready to defend Israel as mandated by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To constantly remind us what the Word of God commands… mount a CUFI mezuzah on the entry doors of your home… [it] sends a message to everyone entering your home that your household serves the Lord, stands with Israel and prays for the peace of Jerusalem.” By affixing these to Christian homes, it is CUFI's hope that more people will unite with the cause and struggle of the Jewish people and of Israel.
Listening to Pastor Hagee speak, one can hear his passion and desire to end the classic anti-Semitism that has fueled the centuries of oppression, murder and attempts at Genocide. The increased awareness campaigns that CUFI has been promoting appear intent on bridging Jews and Christians, not just in ideals, but in similar practice, to bolster support for Israel, to blur the lines that separate and, through this model, decrease bigotry to be able to champion Israel’s existence with less opposition.
As it sees Syrian dangers on one side, Iran threatening Israel with total destruction, unrest in Egypt and uncertainty from Hamas and Hezbulluah, this CUFI summit has begun with a solid purpose and has brought the numbers to challenge those who would see it any other way.
Juda Engelmayer writes for TheCuttingEdgeNews and is an executive at the New York PR firm, 5W Public Relations.
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