Beliefnet News

By Jonathan Rubin
Religion News Service

Washington – The head of the country’s largest Jewish movement called prominent Texas pastor John Hagee an “extremist” and urged fellow rabbis to shun his high-profile support of Israel.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, denounced Hagee, a national evangelical leader, televangelist and head and of the Christians United for Israel, at a Wednesday (April 2) gathering of Reform rabbis in Cincinnati.
Yoffie criticized Hagee for fostering religious intolerance between evangelical Christians and other faiths, and for exacerbating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by vigorously opposing a two-state solution.
What Hagee and his allies “mean by support of Israel and what we mean by support of Israel are two very different things,” Yoffie said. “Their vision of Israel rejects a two-state solution, rejects the possibility of a democratic Israel, and supports the permanent occupation of all Arabs now controlled by Israel.”
“On Israeli-Palestinian politics, John Hagee and the Christians United for Israel are extremists,” Yoffie said. “They do not represent most evangelicals, do not represent most Republicans and do not represent the American heartland.”
A spokesman said Hagee was traveling in Israel and unavailable for comment. The spokesman said Hagee hoped to respond to Yoffie’s remarks at a later point.
Hagee, a global media mogul who reaches millions of Americans through radio and TV broadcasts, recently endorsed Sen. John McCain’s White House bid, and several Catholic groups have urged McCain to denounce what they think are Hagee’s anti-Catholic statements.
Hagee founded Christians United for Israel in 2006 and has stated that “Bible-believing Christians” offer strong political and financial support for Israel as a central tenet of Christian theology. He heads a church of 19,000 in San Antonio.
Some of Hagee’s statements have upset Muslim and Christian groups. And many Jews are uncomfortable with Hagee’s view of Jesus’ Second Coming, which posits that Jews will either accept Jesus or face eternal damnation.
His controversial statements often put Jewish groups in a quandary over whether to accept the group’s generous financial assistance. Some of the donations are earmarked for Israeli victims of suicide bombings and rocket attacks in Israel.
Yoffie said that American Jews should “refrain” from participating in Hagee’s Israeli-oriented programs and activities.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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