GOP trip to Israel funded by ‘hate group,’ Southern Poverty Law Center says


(JTA) — An upcoming Republican National Committee trip to Israel is being fully funded by a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights organization.

The trip, which will take 60 RNC members to Israel for nine days beginning Saturday, is being paid for by a subsidiary of the American Family Association, which the law center  in a news release last week called a “hate group” known for its “extremism and its demonizing attacks on minorities.”

In the release, the law center said that association spokesman Bryan Fischer has made remarks that are anti-gay and racist, equating gay rights activists to Nazis and saying black people “rut like rabbits.” Fischer also has said that “we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.”

Richard Cohen, the law center’s president, in a letter to RNC members wrote, “Given that the disease of anti-Semitism is flaring throughout the world, we certainly understand your desire to show your commitment to Israel at this time. But accepting funding from an extremist group like the AFA would make a mockery of that commitment and legitimize its extremism.”

David Lane, an evangelical Christian activist who is running the trip, said he organized it out of love for Israel.

“Who’s the best friends of Israel? The 65 to 80 million evangelicals in America who read their Bible and believe in the Abrahamic covenant,” he told Haaretz.

Conservative radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, who will be going on the trip, said Lane “has done more good for the Jews” than supporters of the law center.

“I am honored to work with David Lane,” Prager told Haaretz. “I will not stop working with someone who does good because some of those whom he works with make repugnant statements.”

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