A Minnesota congresswoman declined an invitation to attend “A Night to Honor Israel,” saying the views of the event’s evangelical founder are “repugnant.” The Living World Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, a Minneapolis suburb, is hosting the evening on April 29. The event is a project of Texas televangelist Pastor John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel. “Well-publicized statements by Pastor Hagee demonstrate extremism, bigotry and intolerance that is repugnant,” U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, said in a two-page reply declining a form invitation from Pastor Mac Hammond.McCollum cited comments by Hagee describing Hurricane Katrina as the “judgment of God” against sinners in New Orleans and that “those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.” McCollum noted Jewish criticism of Hagee and said, “unlike Pastor Hagee I support working for the ‘road map for peace’ in the Middle East, Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with an independent Palestinian state.” Steve Hunegs, director of the Minnesota/Dakotas Jewish Community Relations Council, said he would attend the event because “coalition building means finding common ground with people of diverse views.” Of Hagee’s controversial remarks, Hunegs said, “Those statements are wrong, but we’re attending for their support for feeding the hungry and helping the widows and orphans in Israel. It’s a Jewish value to say thank you.” David Brog, director of CUFI, said the “Night to Honor Israel” was a “big tent” event. “We all enter this tent knowing that while we don’t agree on everything, we do agree on one urgent proposition – that we must stand with Israel against those who daily threaten to destroy her and her people,” Brog said. “It’s unfortunate that Rep. McCollum has decided to exclude herself from this big tent rather than seek to work with us in a constructive fashion.” Last year, McCollum broke for a few weeks with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee after a Minnesota AIPAC activist allegedly accused her of “supporting terrorists” because she voted against a bill banning assistance to the Palestinian Authority. She later reconciled with the organization.
Legislator blasts pro-Israel group