The Third Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel will be held on Sunday, March 29th at 6pm

The Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel continues to be a welcomed tradition in our region. This year the Christian community will come together once again for the Third Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel . This year’s event will be held on Sunday, March 29th at 6pm.

 

The night to honor Israel is more than just an event. By setting aside time every year, we envision a new era in America-an era of unity, mutual respect, and lasting peace— an era when Christians and Jews stand together and announce to the world that we are united in brotherhood under the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The annual Night to Honor Israel is a time for our community to pay tribute to the Jewish people for their perseverance and tenacity throughout centuries of persecution-to honor then for the contributions they have made to human history, and acknowledge that through them we have been blessed.

 

The Night to Honor Israel is a non-denominational and non partisan event. Our message is that although we may disagree on many things, when it comes to the existence of the State of Israel and rising global anti-Semitism, our community will stand with Israel in voice and in action. In a day of global transition and uncertainty, our vision is to see the entire Christian community of Greater Rochester participate in this annual event, as a demonstration of our community’s stand with God’s covenant in the earth. Last year more than 40 pastors and ministry leaders hosted the event, this year we aim to increase that number.

 

If you are a pastor or ministry leader, please contact Lori Sousa at            (585) 232-1136      , ext. 21. to find out hour you and your ministry can be part of this historic event.

 RSVP for this event 

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Christians, Jews Unite for Israel

Second Annual Greater Rochester NTHI

James Hawver- Staff writer 

(Rochester Democrat and Chronicle- March 31, 2008) Groups of Christians and Jews came together Sunday night to voice their support for the Israeli state and denounce those against its existence at the second annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel.

Much more unites than divides the followers of both faiths, Robert Stearns, regional director of Christians United for Israel, told more than 1,500 people who gathered at the Bethel Christian Fellowship.

“We are here tonight to say that in the shadow of (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, we will not be silent, we will stand with you,” he said.

Christians United for Israel held similar pro-Israel events in more than 75 cities across the United States last year.

With the 60th anniversary of the formation of the modern Israeli state approaching, there is no better time to honor and support the nation and its people, said Sharon Regev, consul for public affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

“This is a critical time for us,” Regev said, “but with your help and the support of people like you, we will not only survive, but we will thrive.”

Keynote speaker Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said despite the efforts of many countries in the Middle East that denounce Israel, Jewish people will not yield to attacks.

“We Jews know that we will never be destroyed,” Klein said, “because the Bible says the Jews will be the eternal people – and we believe it.”

Klein specifically called out Palestinian leaders, who he said preach hatred and murder. He said a Palestinian state would reward terrorism.

“Syria has a state. Iran has a state. North Korea has a state,” he said. “Are they lovely places?”

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Reflections on the First Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel

Daphne Zilber- StandWithUs WNY and Ontario Coordinator

April 6, 2007 — There are rare moments in life, when our hearts is truly fulfilled with happiness and we are proud of our heritage, culture and values. A moment just like that happened to me and many other Jews that attended the ‘Night to Honor Israel’ in Rochester, NY on March 25th 2007.

Organized by Christian Congregations, CUFI (Christians United for Israel), Eagles’ Wings and many more, this night was a magical experience and a wonderful success. With nearly 1,800 people in the audience and great speakers and performers, we could all sense the honest support these people have for Israel.

Pastor Ron Domina from Rochester did a fantastic job hosting the event and read a meaningful speech, emphasizing the connection between Christians and Jews today, reminding everyone that the basis of Christianity relies on Judaism. He called out for every Christian to go back to their roots and to support Israel.

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick from Congregation Beth-Shalom of Rochester also spoke about the importance of supporting Israel at times like this, when there is a true threat to its existence.

David Brog, the executive director for Christians United for Israel was another keynote speaker at the event. He mentioned how important it is to build bridges between the Jewish and Christian communities and let go of the past. After hundreds of years of persecution he says, there is a new Christian generation that values the Jewish roots of Christianity and believes with all its heart that it is crucial to be there for Israel.

Representing the Israeli Consulate of New York was Sharon Regev, the Consul for Public Affairs. She made a great speech as well, thanking the Rochester community for their wonderful support. Regev is new to her position and was very excited to be working with the Jewish and Christian communities of Upstate New York.

The highlight of the night was when Robert Stearns, the leader of Eagles’ Wings, sang ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ in perfect Hebrew. ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ was written after the establishment of Israel, when Jews were not permitted to visit the Western Wall. The song talks about the yearning of the Jews to go back to that ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and pray at the Kotel. After the Six Day War in 1967, when the old city was under Jewish control again, another verse was added to the song, telling how the Jews were finally going back to the old wells and squares.

As an eighth generation Israeli, witnessing this tremendous show of support for my home country, I was left speechless. It is not everyday that you see almost two thousand people, most of them Christians, singing, cheering, clapping and praying for Israel and peace.

Having gone through quite a few Anti-Semitic incidents at the University at Buffalo and seeing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel speakers flooding the campus with hate speech, it was shocking to see such level of love and true hope for peace. This evening proved that there is another voice out there that does support human rights, mutual understanding and coexistence. It truly exists and it is loud and clear. It is important that we, as the Jewish Community embrace that voice and work together for a better future.

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Announcing The Second Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel.

Lori M. Sousa- December 20, 2007

We are living in a defining hour in our nation and in the world. An hour of increased hostility toward the State of Israel when many voices are publicly calling for her destruction. In the face of such threats and rising global anti-Semitism, Pastor Ron Domina, New York State Director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in collaboration with the Christian leadership of the Greater Rochester region is hosting the Second Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel. The event will be held at 6pm Sunday, March 30th at Bethel Christian Fellowship.

This past year, Rochester hosted the First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel, with the purpose of giving our community the opportunity to demonstrate our love and support for Israel and the Jewish people around the world. That first night was historic as over 1,600 people attend and close to 50 area churches and ministries supported the event. At the event a $25,000 offering was collected and sown directly into two humanitarian organizations in Israel.

The Night to Honor Israel is more than just an annual event. By setting aside this night every year, we envision the introduction of a new era in America- an era of unity, mutual respect, and lasting peace- an era when Christians stand together with the Jewish people and announce to the world that we are united in brotherhood. We acknowledge that although the foundations of our nation, Western civilization itself, and our own faith rest with the Jewish people and find root in the value system that came through Moses and the prophets, the Jewish people have rarely been thanked or honored for the contributions that they have made to human history. A Night to Honor Israel is a time set aside to pay tribute to the Jewish people and their forefathers for their perseverance and tenacity throughout centuries of persecution, acknowledging that through them we have been blessed.

The sad tragedy of history is that some of the worst atrocities committed against the Jewish people were carried out by professing Christians. By hosting the Night to Honor Israel every year, we want to send a different message and set a different course in Christian history. That message is one of honor and thanksgiving. Our message is that although professing Christians carried out some of the most unspeakable anti-Semitic acts throughout history, these acts are inconsistent with true Biblical Christianity, and the time has come for believers everywhere to stand up and speak out on behalf of Israel. We own them a dept of repentance and our goal is to come together to remember and acknowledge the lessons and tragedy of our past, and to offer support and encouragement in the present, with hope for the future.

In our day, Israel has become a diving line. Our message to the Jewish people is that although we may disagree on many things, when it comes to the existence of the State of Israel we will stand with them in voice and in actions. Last year at the Night to Honor Israel, Pastor Ron Domina captured the heart of this event when he boldly proclaimed: “Let it be known today that Rochester New York is not neutral and will not be silent when it comes to Israel. Rochester is a city of righteousness, and we will stand with Israel in her hour of need.”

Please make every attempt to join us as a demonstration of love and support for Israel by attending the Second Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor. This event will be held at Bethel Christian Fellowship at 6 pm on Sunday, March 30th. If you are a pastors or ministry leaders you area also encouraged to attend the free informational luncheon on at 11am on Tuesday, January 15th at Bethel Christian Fellowship in the Body Shop. At this luncheon, Pastor Ron Domina will share more about the vision for The Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel. He will also give information about how you and your congregation can be part of this historic night. If you plan to attend the luncheon or if you have additional questions, please contact to Lori Sousa at             (585) 232-1136      , ext. 21 or lmsousa@bethelcf.com

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The First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel was Historic

Lori M. Sousa

“I believe that what we are doing during this 1st Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel is significant. I believe we are drawing a line in the sand in this hour that will effect the generations to come. We are remembering and renouncing the tragedy of the past, so that we can move forward with hope in a new way. We are choosing to take a stand, unifying our voices and sending a strong message to our community and our leaders. That message is that Israel is not alone- we are standing with Israel in our day and we will not be silent in word or in deed”

These are the words that Pastor Ron Domina, senior pastor of Bethel Christian Fellowship and NYS Director for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), spoke on Sunday, March 25th to a standing room only, cheering crowd of over 1,600 who came out in full force for the First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel. Domina concluded his open address by declaring, “Let it be known today that Rochester, NY is not neutral or silent when it comes to Israel. Rochester, NY is a city of Righteousness and will we will stand with Israel in her hour of need”.

In a first for the Rochester region, the Christian and Jewish communities of Rochester came together to pay tribute to the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world. Under the leadership of Robert Stearns, Region 10 Director of CUFI, Pastor Ron Domina joined forces with 34 senior pastors form the Rochester Region, to host the First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel at Bethel Christian Fellowship. Close to 50 churches and ministries came together with members of the Jewish Community (including Larry Fine and Isobel Goldman from the Jewish Community Federation) filling the large sanctuary and a majority of a large overflow room of Bethel Christian Fellowship to capacity. The purpose in coming together was to give the Christian community an opportunity to demonstrate their love and support for Israel and the Jewish people around the world.

The evening began with the Presentation of the colors by the Jewish War Veterans comprised of World War II veterans followed by the signing of the “Hatikva” by Hazzan Martin Leubitz. Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom opened the ceremony by giving the invocation.

Sharon Regev, Consul of Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York brought greetings on behalf of the State of Israel and spoke of the serious issues and threats that now face Israel. The event also drew support of local government officials. Present at the event were: Senator Joseph Robach, Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, Mayor Duffy’s Chief of Staff, Jean Howard, and County legislator, Willie Lightfoot. Maggie Brooks and Jean Howard read a joint proclamation issued by the Office of the County Executive and the Office of the Mayor stating, “We, Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive, and Robert J. Duffy, Mayor of the City of Rochester, do hereby proclaim Sunday, March 25, 2007 to be a Night to Honor Israel and encourage all citizens to recognize and celebrate Israel’s achievements.” NYS Governor Eliot Spitzer sent a letter of support and best wishes for the event to continue on an annual basis.

Those who were present enjoyed a spectacular musical presentation by Steve Harrow (founder of “Sing the Word®”) That had the crowd cheering, clapping, celebrating and singing words such as “Rejoice O Israel for the L-rd has made you His delight”

David Brog (Executive Director for CUFI) was the first keynote speaker at the event. Brog a Jewish man and former chief advisor to Senator Arlen Specter, recently authored a book entitled “Standing with Israel” in this book, Brog explores the motives and goals behind the increasingly powerful political movement of Christian Zionism. In the process of Brog’s exploration he became convinced that he was tapping into something far deeper than politics, Brog, came to believe that he was witnessing the birth pangs of a Christian/ Jewish reconciliation that has been over two millennia in the making. Brog compared the gathering of Christians and Jews to the reconciliation of Joseph to his elder brothers.

Robert Stearns (Executive Director for CUFI region 10 and Executive Director of Eagles Wings Ministry) sang an incredible rendition of “Jerusalem of Gold” and spoke of the reasons why Christians need to support Israel. Stearns also candidly and brilliantly addressed and discounted the common misconceptions about why Christians support Israel.

During the ceremony an offering was taken up to be given directly into a humanitarian need in Israel. The offering was a tangible demonstrate of support for Israel. The offering that was collected totaled $25,000.

The ceremony ended with a presentation from the Senior Pastors to the Jewish Community. The leaders made it clear that they believe this is a new day in history that needs to be commemorated and remembered. The Christian leaders presented the Jewish community with a document that demonstrates their commitment to stand with and support Israel and the Jewish people in her time of need. The document was signed by all the host senior pastors present.

Rabbi Kiliminck closed the service with a moving benediction saying that he wished that his grandmother were alive to see this day. Rabbi Kiliminck received a standing ovation when he said that the spirit of Esther was present in this gathering.

After the ceremony there was a VIP kosher dessert reception where people could process the historic night and get to know each other. During the reception most of the people talked about being totally overwhelmed by the ceremony as each community thank the other for making this night possible.

Under the leadership of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), there have been over 40 Nights to Honor Israel held in cities throughout the US since last year. CUFI was organized by Pastor John Hagee in February of 2006 and since that date, CUFI is emerging as one of the most important Christian grassroots organizations in America. CUFI is focused on one issue: supporting Israel. Although CUFI is only one year old, this organization is gaining the attention of US policy makers changing the nature of support for Israel in America. CUFI endeavors to educate and mobilize the Christian community in a variety of ways, one of the most important ways is by holding annual Nights to Honor Israel in communities throughout the country. As New York State Director for CUFI, Pastor Ron Domina took the initiative to host a Night to Honor Israel in Rochester.

Churches, ministries and organizations who were present for the Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel
The Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester, Bethel Christian Fellowship, Browncroft Community Church, Joy Community Church, Vanguard Christian Church, Henrietta Christian Fellowship, Faith Chapel of Churchville, New Life Fellowship, Caledonia Assembly of God, Shepherd’s Fold Church, New Hope Community Church, Zion Fellowship, Glad Tidings Church, United Christian Church, New Hope Fellowship, New Testament Christian Church, Destiny Christian Church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, City Church, Harvest International Family Church, Webster Christian Fellowship, Jubilee Christian Church, Shepherd’s Heart Christian Church, Lake Shore Community Church, The Equipping Center, Elim Gospel Church, Faith Temple Church, Amazing Grace Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc, The Good News Rochester, International Outreach Missions and Ministry, Gates of Zion Christian Fellowship, Bridge Builders Ministry, Army of God Ministries, Ebenezer Emergency Fund, Living Faith Ministries International, United States Global Apostolic Prayer Network of New York, Wagner Leadership Institute-Northeast, Bridges for Peace Northeast.
A Copy of the document that was signed and by the Host pastors and presented to the Jewish Community. Larry Fine, Isobel Goldman and Rabbi Kilimnick accepted the document on behalf of the Jewish Community,

The First Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel
March 25th, 2007

A Tribute to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people around the world

In Zachariah 8:23, The prophet of Israel declares, ‘This is what the L-rd Almighty says: ‘In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘let us go with you because we have heard that G-d is with you'”

On this twenty-fifth day of March, two thousand and seven, we, the Christian Community of Greater Rochester New York gather here to honor and to thank you and the rest of the Jewish community for your faithfulness and the faithfulness of the your forefathers to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We recognize that although the foundations of our nation, of Western civilization itself and of our own faith rest with your people and find root in the value system that came though Moses and the prophets, you as a people have rarely been thanked or honored for the contributions that you have made to human history. Today, we honor you for your perseverance throughout centuries of persecution and we acknowledge that through your people we have been blessed.

Today, we announce a new day in human history. A day in which we pledge to stand with you, in voice and in action, in unity and mutual respect, announcing to our community and the rest of the world that we are united in brotherhood.

We recognize that the existence of the State of Israel in her ancient homeland is a miracle that your prophets spoke of long ago. We recognize that your cry and prayer for peace and safety in your land, Today, we stand, herewith represented, with our families and children to offer encouragement in the present and hope for the future. We pledge to stand with you, pray with you, and work for this cause. Today we stand with tremendous gratitude and humbly say, “Les go with you, for we have heard and seen that G-D is with you.”

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RELIGION: Understanding CUFI and Christian Zionism

Lori M. Sousa

Rochester City Newspaper — May. 8th, 2007 – In response to Richard Myers’ April 18 letter “Assessing Christians United for Israel”:While I am sure that Myers sincerely believes that CUFI has a covert and sinister motive, I believe that this assessment is based on lack of information and faulty assumptions that do not accurately represent the heart or mission of CUFI.

I can understand the skepticism that surrounds this issue. Who can blame people for being wary of the support that Christians now offer to the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world? The first 1900 years of Church history was dominated by a theology that held that the Church had replaced the Jewish people as God’s chosen people. This theology made way for some of the worst atrocities to be committed against the Jewish people at the hands of professing Christians.

While I cannot speak for the motives of every Christian who is involved with CUFI, I can respond as someone who has worked to educate Christians about Israel, coordinated the recent Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel, and supports Pastor Ron Domina in his role as New York State Director for CUFI.

Rather than being used to further the age-old strategy of Christian anti-Semitism, CUFI was created to be a positive, supportive voice from the Christian community for the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Currently, CUFI is being used in a powerful way to bring understanding and to rally Christians who will remember the lessons of the past, offer support and encouragement in the future, and envision an era where Christian and Jew stand together in the common bond of brotherhood under the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We recognize that our Christian faith finds root in ancient Judaism, and this evokes our gratitude for the Jewish people, who gave us a monotheism purchased with the blood of Jewish martyrs.

For those who are serious about understanding the prevalent form of Christian support for Israel emerging in our day, let me recommend a well-documented book by David Brog, “Standing with Israel.” Brog is Jewish and is also the executive director of CUFI. Prior to assuming his role with CUFI, Brog served as chief of staff to a senior United States senator and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Brog spent years researching the topic of Christian Zionism in an attempt to uncover the motives and goals behind this increasingly powerful political movement. In the process, he became convinced that he was tapping into something far deeper than politics and came to believe that he was witnessing “the birth pangs of a Christian-Jewish reconciliation that has been over two millennia in the making.” In this book, Brog exposes the roots of Christian anti-Semitism and discusses the birth and development of Christian Zionism.

While Myers accuses CUFI of resisting “every effort to make peace in the Middle East,” CUFI’s actions have demonstrated a genuine and informed commitment to stand against forces that are bent on destruction and violence. Shall we pursue “peace” by being silent when the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discounts the Holocaust as a myth and threatens to “wipe Israel off the face of the map” while acquiring the nuclear capability to make good on his threat? Shall we also ignore the fact that the Hamas-led Palestinian government denies Israel’s right to exist and still adheres to the PLO founding charter that contains clauses calling for the destruction of Israel?

Shall we forget our past and be like the many Christians who were silent while 6 million Jews were murdered by a regime that came to power in Christian Germany? Yes, as Christians we pray and pursue peace with all humanity, but we believe that peace is not merely an esoteric idea that eludes current realities and practical action. To accuse organizations such as CUFI, who take an active stand against forces bent on the destruction of Israel, of taking actions that “resist every effort to make peace in the Middle East” is a misinterpretation of true motives. In the words of CUFI founder John Hagee: “When the Jews of Europe were marched to the gas chambers in Hitler’s holocaust… the Christians of the world were strangely quiet. Never again! Not on our watch! The sleeping giant in America has awakened!”

As Israel is faced with serious and immediate threats, the honest and genuine support of millions of Christians will continue to be voiced through organizations like CUFI. This support was seen in Rochester during the recent Night to Honor Israel, where an enthusiastic crowd of over 1600 people united for a bi-partisan, non-denominational, non-proselytizing, Christian-organized demonstration of support. The message that night was clear, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation as Pastor Ron Domina proclaimed: “Let it be known today that Rochester, New York, is not neutral or silent when it comes to Israel. Rochester is a city of righteousness, and we will stand with Israel in her hour of need.”

Lori Sousa coordinates the Office of Israel Programs at Bethel Christian Fellowship, assisting Pastor Ronald. A. Domina in his roll as state director for CUFI.

To read Richard Myers’letter go to:
http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/archives/2007/4/RELIGION%3A+CUFI+s+motivation
 Click here to To read Richard Myers’ letterr

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Zealous for Zion

by Michael Brendan Dougherty

The American Conservative- August 27, 2007 Issue — Members of the Cornerstone Church Orchestra wet their lips for rehearsal, preparing to blow into their shofars, those curved horns used to mark Jewish feasts. In anticipation of the evening’s event, organizers arrange thousands of chairs, placing programs on each seat and covering them with flags-American or Israeli, alternating and sharply aligned. Tonight, Christians United for Israel will hold a celebration to supercharge thousands of Christian Zionists as they prepare to meet their senators and congressmen the next day on Capitol Hill.

In February 2006, televangelist John Hagee founded CUFI to “respond instantly to Washington with our concerns about Israel,” telling reporters to “think of CUFI as a Christian version of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee].” In just over a year, Hagee, with help from charismatic pastors, is turning CUFI into the largest grassroots Christian political organization in the country. The second annual summit in Washington grew from just over 3,000 attendees last year to 4,500 this July.

CUFI brings together a stunning variety of Christians. While many of the female attendees wear modest skirts that cover even their ankles, others, sporting stiletto heels and form-fitting pants, could have stepped from the pages of Vogue. Not all believe in an imminent rapture, though many do. Some are Baptist, some Assemblies of God, others traveled from nondenominational churches. But they agree that the Bible commands them to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), to “speak out for Zion’s sake” (Isaiah 62:1), to “be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 62:6), and to “bless the Jewish people” (Genesis 12:3). “When 50 million American evangelicals unite with 5 million American Jews,” Hagee says, “you know it is a match made in heaven.”

The political goals of CUFI are, in some cases, quite modest. One presentation focused on encouraging states to divest their pension funds from corporations that do business with Iran. Others are more sweeping: the U.S. must cease pressuring Israel to give up land for peace and must encourage Israel never to divide Jerusalem.

The lure of a sympathetic crowd and the chance to trade pieties with the most popular televangelists in the nation attracted Sen. Joe Lieberman and ex-senator Rick Santorum. Each preached to the converted: Islamic-fascism is the most dangerous threat facing the United States, and Israel is the “frontline.” Even John McCain took time from his ailing presidential campaign to make an unscheduled appearance. Speaking of Iraq, the senator said, “The temptation is to wash our hands of a messy situation. To follow this impulse, however, portends catastrophe, for Iraq, Israel, and the United States.”

Hagee’s charisma extends beyond his 18,000-member Texas megachurch through the 160 television stations that carry his program into 99 million households. A scholarship football player in his youth, at 67, Hagee still retains a lineman’s girth and a coach’s booming voice. He counts Jews as well as evangelical Christians, the old and young, the well-connected and naïve among his devotees.

In the lobby of the Waldman Park Hotel, Harry Stern, a Holocaust survivor who emigrated from Czechoslovakia, heaped praise on Hagee, saying he watches his sermon every week.

Another fan, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, gave two speeches at the conference. When asked what benefit it was to Israel to build support in the greenest of the grassroots Christian community, he replied, “Look at what the Saudis are doing: expensive P.R. firms in the United States, calling for re-dividing Jerusalem. … I’m just giving a few speeches here.”

At a breakout session dedicated to youth, Dr. Robert Stearns invites college students on a trip called “The Israel Experience.” A video shows other students exhorting the audience to undertake this transformative journey. One participant, Elizabeth Wong, says with a disarming smile, “I feel like my destiny has been tied with Israel.” The presentation is followed up by a talk by Jeff Mendelson of AIPAC. “What happens to Israel will happen here,” he says somberly. As the students begin to file out to prepare for the night’s celebration, they are asked to volunteer to start pro-Israel groups on their own campuses. One from Missouri State responds to a question about the Palestinian Christians curtly: “They should go to Israel, and be all good.” Wong jumps in to correct any misunderstanding: “The so-called Palestinians, Arab Christians … whatever you want to call them, deserve our sympathy, too.”

James Tabor of Middleboro, Kentucky wears a Star of David tie, bright blue jacket and white pants. Despite his lack of formal education, he is proficient in the current events of the Middle East. But for all his ability to pronounce the name “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” he “still would like to see him wiped off that map.” Tabor, along with his 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, carries a hand-drawn sign with American and Israeli flags and the words, “Press on for Jesus.”

The image of thousands of conservative Christians from the heartland waving the flags of a foreign nation would have astounded anyone 50 years ago-except maybe George Orwell. In an essay on nationalism, he criticized G.K. Chesterton, the English writer, for romanticizing Latin countries, particularly France, on account of his Catholicism. Orwell called this “transferred nationalism” and argued that fixing upon another country allows one “to be much more nationalistic-more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest-that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge.” But Chesterton’s affinity for France was sentimental-and harmless. CUFI knits theology and politics to powerful effect: Christian Zionists support Israel because God commands them to do so.

Not every evangelical is pleased with Hagee or his conference. Pastor Chuck Carlson flew in from Scottsdale, Arizona to greet CUFI with giant yellow signs reading “Reject Apostate Christianity” and “Choose Life, Not War.” “We think up to 100 million people are influenced by the ideas of John Hagee,” he says. “We’re becoming a culture of war.” Carlson’s literature is theologically conservative, attacking Hagee’s gospel as “un-biblical.” He smiles as each bus pulls up, waving as if inviting visitors into his own home. “The way we’re going to work with the church for peace,” he says, “is to stand out in front of church and confront them.” The protest attracts plenty of attention and a few heated arguments, but no converts.

Inside the convention center, nearly every major star preacher from the Trinity Broadcast Network was present. Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Rod Parsley. Waiting with a somewhat bored expression on his face is Newt Gingrich.

Hagee’s address covers Biblical reasons to support the state of Israel. While some have criticized him and many of the other televangelists on stage with him for preaching a “Give-to-Get Gospel,” Hagee extends the logic to a “Give-to-Get” Zionism. Because Genesis 12 says, “I will bless those who bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee,” Hagee preaches that “as people, churches, and nations deal with the State of Israel, so God will deal with them.” He tells the crowd, with equal parts grin and gruff, “Get ready! Good things are getting ready to happen to you.”

But not all is brightness. “There are voices in the U.S. State Department calling for the city of Jerusalem to be divided,” Hagee says. The crowd shouts a drawn out “No!” unprompted. “Let’s make this clear!” Hagee continues. “There shall be one Jerusalem. Never divided. For any reason. Not now and not ever!”

Hagee has made Washington a focus of his efforts, but his mission is larger than politics. He is not as solicitous to Republican interests as Jerry Falwell was before him; he freely criticizes the president and cabinet members. A politician works on policy-a trifling thing compared to a preacher who reveals God’s prophecies. Hagee’s sermon rises into a call and response, “Shout it from the rooftops: ‘Israel Lives!'” then dissolves into a hymn before Gingrich approaches the podium.

With such a tough act to follow, the former speaker disappoints. In his bland, technocratic cadence, he relates that 91 percent of Americans believe the words, “Under God” belong in the pledge of allegiance. The congregation grows restless. They came to hear something more moving than agreeable poll numbers. But they rouse when he says, “We don’t have a peace process, we have a surrender process” and when he chastises the president, saying that if he were “serious, he’d move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem tomorrow.” Gingrich sits down, and the Cornerstone Church Orchestra picks up their cue.

Images of rabbis teaching in Israel flash across giant screens, as the crowd starts to rock and wave, lifting their voices, “Sing Us a Song of Zion.” A young man dressed as an IDF soldier appears on the stage. He appears to be hurt and remains on his knees. The music begins to fade. Another young man dressed as an American soldier comes over, lifts up his Israeli counterpart, and salutes him. The hall fills with the sound of the electronic keyboard and the crowd punctures the night air with waving palms and a smattering of “hallelujahs.” Some raise tear-streaked faces, others bow their heads in ecstatic prayer, all are resolute and ready for battle. They sing as the music lifts them higher: “Great is the army that carries out His Word.”
August 27, 2007 Issue

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