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YouTube removed some 80 videos featuring controversial pro-Israel pastor John Hagee. Lawyers for Hagee, saying they violated copyright restrictions, requested the removal from the sharing site, according to the Texas pastor’s spokesman, Juda Engelmayer. The removal comes barely two weeks before Hagee’s organization, Christians United for Israel, holds its third annual summit in Washington. The timing prompted blogger Max Blumenthal, who filmed a critical documentary of last year’s CUFI summit, to accuse Hagee of suppressing free speech. Earlier this year, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) renounced Hagee’s endorsement after inflammatory material emerged — much of it in video form posted to YouTube.

In one widely circulated video, the pastor called the Catholic Church “the great whore” and a “false cult system.” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has urged Jews not to partner with Hagee, saying his organization does not have Israel’s best interests at heart. Despite the removal, many Hagee videos continue to circulate on YouTube and other file-sharing Web sites.

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