Pastor John Hagee took 15 minutes today during his trip to Israel to hold a conference call with reporters from JTA, the Jerusalem Post, the Associated Press and the New York Times. Hagee, responding to questions that were submitted ahead of time, defended himself against Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Reform movement and other critics who accuse the mega-church leader of being anti-Catholic and bent on stopping Israeli peace moves.
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UPDATE: Here’s the statement that Hagee has released…
Statement of Pastor John Hagee
In Response to Allegations by Rabbi Eric Yoffie
In a speech last week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie attacked me and the organization that I founded, Christians United for Israel. In his speech, Rabbi Yoffie accurately describes the Jewish community as one that is “supremely sensitive to the power of words.” It saddens me that Rabbi Yoffie failed to exhibit the very sensitivity of which he spoke. I must say that Rabbi Yoffie’s speech demonstrates not only a lack of respect for me, but a troubling lack of respect for the truth.
Rabbi Yoffie begins his attack by accusing me of being “anti-Catholic.” He supports this very serious charge by repeating verbatim the Catholic League’s claim that I called the Catholic Church “a great whore,” a “false cult system,” and an “apostate church.” I am deeply disappointed that Rabbi Yoffie would repeat this false charge without even bothering to check his facts. Had he done so, he would have found that I have never called the Catholic Church by these names. On the contrary, I have consistently taught that these three concepts from the Book of Revelation refer to all Christians from all denominations who reject the Gospel, and not to any one Church or denomination.
Rabbi Yoffie next claims that I and Christians United for Israel are “extremists” who reject a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In making this allegation, Rabbi Yoffie completely ignores CUFI’s actual record of activism. Instead he relies on a few quotes from me and others pulled out of context. Rabbi Yoffie ignores our record because this record completely undermines his claim.
When it comes to the issue of land for peace, it is true that I and many other Christian Zionists have grown skeptical of territorial concessions after watching the results of Israel’s withdrawals from Southern Lebanon and Gaza. However CUFI’s fundamental philosophy from day one has been that Israelis and Israelis alone have the right to make the existential decisions about land and peace. To the extent that CUFI has taken concrete action in connection with the peace process, it has at all times been limited to asking the White House not to pressure Israel into making territorial concessions that she herself does not wish to make. We simply do not, and would not, seek to tell the Israelis what to do.
I want to close by noting that I am speaking to you from Israel. I have just returned from a solidarity rally in which I lead over 1,000 Christian friends of Israel through the streets of Jerusalem carrying banners proclaiming “Israel: You are not alone!” Yesterday, I and the CUFI leadership met with Israeli leadership including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Kadima, Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni, and Binyamin Netanyahu from Likud. It was a pleasure to meet with and learn from these three brilliant statesmen. Let me assure you that when it comes to the large majority of Israeli Jews and American Jews, our work of Christian-Jewish dialogue and reconciliation continues moving forward.