Beliefnet News

By Nicole Neroulias
Religion News Service

New York – As Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee convenes his annual Christians United for Israel summit in Washington this week (July 21-24), a new poll shows most U.S. Jews are leery of his support.
An online survey of 800 Jews found that 78 percent of American Jews say Jewish groups should not form alliances with Hagee or other Christian Zionists whose support for Israel stems from end-times beliefs that Jews must control the Holy Land before Jesus can return.
The survey of 800 Jews was commissioned by J Street, a nonprofit organization that promotes a diplomatic resolution to the Middle East conflict.
Hagee’s critics complain the pastor’s controversial views — including that the Holocaust was God’s way of forcing Jews to settle in Israel and that Christians must oppose Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories — have been downplayed or ignored by Jewish leaders seeking funding and political support from the estimated 20 million to 40 million Christian Zionists in the United States.
Hagee’s annual convention will feature speeches by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., an Orthodox Jew, and Brad Gordon of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director, said he hopes the poll will send a message to Lieberman, AIPAC and other Jewish organizations that their constituents are more dovish than hawkish when it comes to Israel and Middle Eastern policy.
“This is a strong message to the leadership of the American Jewish community that the members of the American Jewish community are not marching in lockstep behind them as they lead us off this cliff,” Ben-Ami said. “The alliance that they have struck with (Hagee) over the past few years is one we would like to see brought to an end.”
More than 50,000 people have signed the “Don’t go, Joe!” petition on J Street’s Web site, asking Lieberman to pull out of the CUFI summit, Ben-Ami said.
The J Street survey also found that 75 percent of respondents saw a two-state solution as necessary to strengthen Israeli security, and when asked about the most important issues for them in the upcoming presidential election, respondents ranked the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, national security, energy and the environment above Israel.
Hagee’s activism has also drawn concern from several prominent Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Joel Myers of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who leads the Union for Reform Judaism.
Earlier this year, Hagee told Religion News Service that he can understand why some Jews “shy away from Christian support,” but blamed that reluctance on 2,000 years of anti-Semitism, not political or social differences.
The J Street survey has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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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