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CUFI was founded in 2006 by the Rev. John Charles Hagee. It is the largest pro-Israel organization in America with over 4 million members. Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, an Evangelical megachurch in San Antonio, Texas. His televangelist message is broadcast via his non-profit corporation Global Evangelism Television and other international media outlets. Hagee’s personal networth is estimated at $5 million. He is viewed as an important partner by many Jewish Zionist organizations. On May 14, 2018, while Hagee was in Jerusalem for the opening ceremony of the US Embassy, his son accepted an Israeli Embassy award on his father’s behalf in a private Washington DC ceremony.
CUFI Statement of Purpose: “to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues.”
How does CUFI work in Congress to support Israel?
Christians United for Israel is a powerful lobby in Washington with deep support at the highest levels of our government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at the annual CUFI Convention in D.C. in July. Vice President Pence spoke last year. CUFI is committed to Israel’s strength, security and sovereignty. They stand with the decisions of the government of Israel and work to support the US-Israel relationship and safeguard the Jewish state’s right to defend itself. The CUFI current lobbying focus addresses the following policy items, as stated on the CUFI website:
*support for U.S. aid to Israel and the maintenance of the Jewish state’s qualitative military edge in the region.
*countering Palestinian terrorism and intransigence in the peace process, including the withholding of US taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority until it changes behavior
*support for President Trump’s official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, lobbying for Congressional bills for permanent recognition.
*opposition to international condemnation of Israel’s legitimate acts of self-defense and international pressure on Israel to make concessions to its adversaries.
*opposition to the BDS movement, lobbying in support of both the Combating BDS Act and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in Congress.
*countering Iran’s malevolence through sanctions on the Islamic Republic and efforts to disrupt military and financial support of Hezbollah.
What is the ideology that informs the CUFI policy agenda?
CUFI’s unquestioning support for the Jewish State of Israel is grounded “in matters related to Biblical issues.” It is based in a religio/political ideology which understands the Zionist state of Israel to an unambiguous portent or sign of the fulfillment of Biblical End-time prophecies, as interpreted through a Fundamentalist lens. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 is seen as a pivotal moment in the fulfillment of God’s promises, moving history into a new Dispensation. Central to CUFI’s belief system is the Scofield Bible’s commentary on Genesis 12:3: “‘I will bless them that bless thee [Israel] and curse them that curse thee.” John Hagee states, “The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God.”
What is Dispensationalism? It is a theological theory of how history unfolds in “dispensations” or ages, leading up to the rapture of all Christians, the precept that God will rescue Christians from the world before wreaking havoc on unrepentant humanity in a global war centered in the Middle East. As history spirals downward with no hope of redemption until the bloody victory at Armageddon, the Jewish nation-state plays a central role as catalyst for battle against godless powers, paving the way for Messiah Jesus’ second coming. The promises of God in old and new covenants are intertwined in this unfolding drama of violent redemption.
Dispensationalism made its appearance with 19th century Millenialism, in particular the preaching of John Nelson Darby. Darby believed that every fifty years history leaps ahead toward the Endpoint: the return of the Messiah to Jerusalem. It is job of believers to read the signs of the times. As Darby stated, Biblical prophesies may never be spiritualized but are always literal. Darby’s worldview influenced a circle of British Aristocrats,whose political interventions translated the Zionist dream of a homeland in Palestine into political reality. In particular, Lord Shaftesbury became convinced that the restoration of Jews to Palestine was predicted in the Bible and also coincided with the Empire’s strategic interests. This religio/political view was shared by leading British politicians including Lord Balfour. A line can be drawn from Darby’s preaching to the Balfour Declaration.
When Israel captured eastern Jerusalem and its holy sites from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, Dispensationalists saw further proof that the messianic era is nigh. The year 2017, a major anniversary year for Israel, was 50 years after the Six-Day War, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration and 150 years since the observations of Americans like Mark Twain that Jerusalem has fallen into a state of decay. These landmarks are not seen as coincidence but prophecy being fulfilled. CUFI’s unquestioning support for the State of Israel, especially the settlement project and land-appropriation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, provides strategic aid to the work of the current dispensation. Dispensationalists view themselves as partners with Israel, traveling a parallel path toward the restoration of Jerusalem as center of a Messianic Kingdom ruled by Christ, under the sovereignty of the Biblical God. The label “Christian Zionists” expresses this partnership. Christian Zionism is profoundly antiSemitic at its core, Islamophobic and constitutes an assault on the good news of the Gospels.
The impact of CUFI in the U.S. is grounded in its massive lobbying power in Congress on behalf of the pro-Israel agenda. The current context for the lobby’s actions is political empowerment of the “religious right,” which sees itself as the leaders in a fight against secularism, Islam, socialism and the many other ‘isms’ of the culture wars.
The impact of Christian Zionism in Palestine/Israel is achieved through direct funding for the Israeli settlement project. A study published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz estimates the total amount of funding for Israel raised in the past 10 years by U.S. Evangelical community at somewhere between $50 million and $65 million. In 2008, the John Hagee Ministries invested $8 million in a sports complex in the settlement of Ariel, as well as donating close to $1 million to Riskin’s Jewish-Christian center in Efrat.
Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and the Israel-Palestine Conflict, edited by Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin