Im Tirtzu and the eternal fire of damnation

Im Tirtzu’s acceptance of funds from Pastor John Hagee is just one example of the questionable and dangerous alliance Israel has made with Christians who are far from being “friends of Israel.”

While Im Tirtzu’s Ronen Shoval continues to rant self righteously about how “leftwing” organizations need to be probed about their foreign funding, he forgot to mention a little donor his movement once benefited from called JHM (John Hagee Ministries).

Pastor Hagee founded Christians United for Israel, an evangelical group that declares itself Zionist and believes Jews must rule the “Land of Israel” to enable the Second Coming, when all Jews and other non-believers in Zion will either convert to Christianity or suffer eternal damnation. (Check out this video and article). He donated millions to build the fancy sports complex in the settlement of Ariel in the northern West Bank and is, if you ask me, a proper antisemite, on top of being a religious fanatic.

I have always thought that Israel should refuse to accept monetary support from Hagee and CUFI or treat them as friends of Israel. Someone who is convinced Jews are ultimately sinners and have not yet seen the light is not a friend of Israel. Someone who donates money to settlements is also not a friend of Israel. His “pro-Israelism” should really be understood as “philo-Zionism,” at best. As Daniel Levy summed it up nicely a few years ago: “Can there be a more vile poster-boy for Israel than Hagee?!”

The fact that Im Tirtzu agreed to receive funding from Pastor Hagee should make all Israelis question and doubt their character, judgement and integrity. They are following well in Menachem Begin’s footsteps, who said that Israel will take any friends it can get.

Last summer, when Im Tirtzu threatened to essentially promote a boycott of Ben-Gurion University if it did not hire more “patriotic” professors, Hagee reportedly pulled his funding, citing that he was under the impression that he was supporting a group that engaged strictly in Zionist education and not in political actions. (Yeah, right.)

Recently Israel has warmed up to other Christians that should not exactly be considered friends, much less decent people. In an article called “Israel’s Wrong Friends,” Ian Buruma points out the troubling trend:

Israel has been welcoming some rather peculiar visitors of late. The Dutch populist, Geert Wilders, is a frequent caller, telling sympathetic audiences that Israel is on the front line of the Western war against Islam. And, in December, a delegation of European far-right politicians toured Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank, pleasing their hosts by reassuring them that this was “Jewish land.

This alliance is based on the European right’s political agenda of presenting Islam as a religion of terror and all Muslims as a demographic threat. It seems Israel has forgotten that it was the target in Europe not so long ago, just as the Muslims are today. Buruma points out how foolish it is for Israel to go along with their message.

Once people stop believing that Israel is defending the West against fascism, Israel will be blamed for all the violence in the Middle East. And Jews everywhere else will be blamed by association.

Just as Pastor Hagee and CUFI are not friends of ours just because they send money and wave Israeli flags, neither is the European right.

Leftist and liberal critics of Israeli politics like to point out that anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. But it is just as true that being a friend of Israel is not necessarily the same thing as being a friend of the Jews.

It is not by coincidence that Im Tirtzu’s very name is based on Theodor Herzl’s famous statement “if  you will it, it is no legend.” Herzl did business with antisemites who were more than happy to see all Jews be rounded up into one country far away from Europe. It is too bad the people of Im Tirtzu have not managed to get beyond this way of thinking. Just because they are following in these footsteps doesn’t mean it is good for Israel.