Christians United for Israel held its eighth annual Washington summit this week, bringing 4,200 activists — down from more than 5,000 last year — to Capitol Hill with a three-pronged agenda:
— On Iran, CUFI activists want tougher sanctions, and in particular, passage of the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 850). CUFI talking points describe the country as the “number one state sponsor of terrorism” and dismiss the notion that the country’s news president, Hassan Rohani, is a moderate.
— On Israel, the activists are urging the adoption of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 (H.R. 938, S.462), which declares Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States and expands the forward deployment of U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel.
— New this year, CUFI is drawing attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, supporting legislation calling for a special envoy to address freedom of religion in the Near East and Central Asia.
The event boasted a large array of speakers, including radio and web personality Glenn Beck; Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the leader of the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); and Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
In his keynote speech, CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee proposed that peace for Israel lies in stricter policies toward Iran and the Palestinians. He recommended that the U.S “shut off the foreign aid to the Palestinians until they publicly recognize the right of Israel to exist, the right to defend themselves against all of their enemies, and the right to secure borders.”
Glenn Beck, the other keynote speaker, described an archetypal battle between good and evil to frame the two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with those supporting Israel (surprise!) on the side of good. (Here’s a link to his speech.)
Beck, who headlined the CUFI event in 2011, said it was a “miracle” that Hagee persuaded him to return to Washington, a city he said he likes even less than Las Vegas. “At least in Vegas they admit they’re all hookers and crooks,” he said.
Among other props, Beck brought with him a handmade whip he said was from Auschwitz. Verging on tears, he said it was made from “the handle of a broom or a shovel.”
Also on display: What Beck claimed was the napkin that was next to Hitler when he survived an assassination attempt. And a yellow star.
“Evil is powerful,” Beck said. “Evil is intoxicating. And evil is eternal.”
Evil, Beck seemed to suggest, was also Muslim. He urged activists to read the Koran, claiming that it was widely read in the early days of the republic, showing what he said was an early American translation of the Koran.
“Every American should read this,” he quoted its title page as proclaiming. “They will come and kill us at some point if we are not vigilant.”
He also cast Thomas Jefferson’s waging of the Barbary Wars as a battle against Muslim extremism. (Snopes, the myth-busting website, picks apart these arguments.)