While it is excellent that Pastor John Hagee is seeking “redemption” from Jews in return for his Christian communities support of Israel (and many Jewish supporters of Israel hope Hagee and his Christian followers are supportive of Palestine as well, for there can be no secure, prosperous nor safe Israel without a comprehensive, just and speedy solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), there is another “divide” more pressing than Christian support of Israel tearing at the fabric of Christian-Jewish rapprochement.
Pastor Hagee has failed to even acknowledge it, much less tackle it by publicly addressing it, and taking a just stand on it (“United by faith for the Jewish State,” June 22).
In the book Harry James Cargas in conversation with Elie Wiesel (Paulist Press, 1975), naturalized-American Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel stated: “I think Jews must say, first, certain words which hurt Christians — that Auschwitz would not have been possible without Christianity…the fact that Hitler was never excommunicated…that over 20 percent of the S.S. killers were practicing Christians…the fact that Pius XII never spoke up means that Christianity’s role, or the Christian church’s role — both Protestant and Catholic — was so dominant in the fact that so many Jews could have been killed. All that has to be said…,”
“...Once this has been articulated, I think there can be a meeting ground, provided one does not try to convert the other. Conversion is not a solution…. If the Christians give up their dream to convert Israel (Israel never tried to convert the church), then I’m sure we can find common ground.”
The impact and meaning of Wiesel’s words above remain as true today as they were when first published 32 years ago. My New World Dictionary of the English language defines redemption as “release from sin.”
If Christian monetary support of Israel is a spiritual release from sin, then public and forceful Christian renunciation — by Christian ministers — of the conversion campaigns targeting Jewish children, youth, young adults and adults of all ages must also be equally aired.
When that theologically overdue agenda is achieved, Christians will not only have a spiritual redemption for the historical crimes of 2,000 years of Christian hatred and violence against Jews, they will have redemption of actualization.
While it will be expected that Rev. Hagee will receive death threats from those Christians who remain steadfast in the belief that Christianity is a theologically superior religion to followers of other faiths, only Hagee himself can make the decision to choose a path of post-proselytizing Christian, or remain with the path he currently endorses.
As a hate, Shoah and genocide educator, I’ve told Christian ministers at churches where I’ve guest taught that Christians surely have enough social-service issues among Christians that warrant paid and volunteer staff time, money and concern without having to squander those people resources along with tens of millions of dollars spent annually to convert American Jews.
Yet Jews are losing this battle, even as American Jewish synagogue construction and membership increases: each recent year we have new news reports on how many new (so-called) “Messianic Synagogues” have opened their doors in the U.S. Even Israel has them.
If Rev. Hagee is serious about supporting Israel, no time is sooner than his next audience of Christian supporters of Israel for him to publicly renounce conversion campaigning. Will he meet the challenge?
If yes, his publicly stated support for Israel will achieve meaningful credibility. If not, the United Jewish Communities should decline those monies raised and donated for Jewish causes. As much as he wants to, he can’t have it both ways.