Last Updated: August 21. 2008 10:18PM UAE / August 21. 2008 6:18PM GMT
Joseph Lieberman addresses the audience at "A Night to Honor Israel", the capstone event of the Third Annual Washington-Israel Summit. Courtesy 5W Public Relations
A new ‘pro-peace’ group hopes to break the monopoly within Washington’s powerful Israel lobby. But do they stand a chance? Justin Vogt reports.
One evening late last month, in a cavernous banquet hall in downtown Washington’s convention centre, the words of the prophet Isaiah graced every available surface. Printed on leaflets, emblazoned on banners, projected onto the walls: “For Zion’s sake I will not remain silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet.”
From the prodigious cheering, whooping, and Lord-praising that filled the air, it was plain to see that a customarily literal understanding of those lines had taken hold of the five thousand evangelical Christians who had travelled to attend “A Night to Honor Israel”, the capstone gala of the Third Annual Washington-Israel Summit.
The summit is the work of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), an organisation founded in 2006 and led by Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas. CUFI’s mission is to ensure that Congress and the executive branch reject any peace agreement that involves Israeli territorial concessions. According to Hagee, a Biblical literalist, “any nation that divides the land of Israel will come under the severe judgment of God.” In Hagee’s view, “God has promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen People,” and Hagee has blessed the chosen people with millions of dollars in donations to aliyah organisations that encourage and assist Jewish immigration to Israel.