More on Hagee and Anti-Semitism

An email from the “Jerusalem Connection” brings an uncompromising message from Rev. Jim Hutchens:

Christian Zionists have a special mandate and “duty to expose and confront anti-Semitism wherever it is found.” This is true of the overt anti-Semitism of evil Islamic Jihadists like Iran, who would “wipe Israel off the map,” or Palestinian Jihadists who refuse Israel’s right to exist. It is equally true of the veiled anti-Semitism that lurks in the bowels of Replacement Theology/Supercessionism among Christians. For Zion’s sake we must not keep silent.

So, does “wherever it is found” include someone who rants about how the US economy is run by a group of Satanists called the Illuminati, in particular naming Alan Greenspan and “the Rothschilds”? Or who infers that Satan was able to make particular use of Karl Marx because he was Jewish and Hitler because he was “partly Jewish”? Alas no, seeing as Hutchens has said nothing against John Hagee’s views on these subjects.

Meanwhile, Hagee has issued yet another apology for his past sermonizing, this time for his much-reported comments about Hitler being a hunter sent by God to persuade the Jews to move to Israel:

“In a sermon in 1999, I grappled with the vexing question of why a loving God would allow the evil of the Holocaust to occur,” John Hagee, the Texas-based preacher wrote in a letter to Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman. “I know how sensitive the issue of the Holocaust is and should be to the Jewish community and I regret if my Jewish friends felt any pain as a result.”

Hagee doesn’t really “do” sensitive: in 1996 he held a charity “slave auction” at his church.

But is he an anti-Semite? It’s a description I’ve always been reluctant to use (much as I dislike what he stands for), because Hagee has also said so much that is philo-Semitic. It also risks conflating Hagee with a different strand of American Christian fundamentalism which is unambiguously anti-Jewish; Hagee is no Gerald L.K. Smith. However, it’s clear that Hagee’s philo-Semitism collapses in on itself: Hagee sees Jews not as real three-dimensional people, but simply as instruments in a divine drama. Those Jews who act according to God’s script receive Hagee’s regard and support, but the logic of his theology means that the Jew who strays from the path – such as Marx, the Rothschilds, and, erm, Hitler – potentially becomes a uniquely effective tool of Satan. Thus, like the late Jerry Falwell, Hagee teaches that the anti-Christ will be at least “partly” Jewish.

Hagee co-opts old anti-Jewish conspiracy theories while expressing support for Jews. But this just means that the essential anti-Jewish element of these theories is currently (more or less) dormant – and Hagee’s “paranoid style” is inseparable from an irrational hatred of minority groups. The possibility remains that Hagee’s conspiracy teachings may one day help to create an anti-Jewish climate, just as their originators intended.

Ironically, this anti-Jewish flip-side to Christian Zionist philo-Semitism has been acknowledged by some right-wing Jewish supporters of Israel, who have used it as a stick with which to beat Israeli moderates; in 2004 Herbert Zweibon, head of Americans for a Safe Israel, warned in the Jerusalem Post that

If Israel withdraws from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, I think you will see anti-Semitism in America like you have never seen. These people [Christian Zionists] will see it as a betrayal of their own trust…Why should they stand by [Israel], if the Jews don’t?

Hagee claims his support for Israel is unconditional (and doubtless he recalls Israel’s repudiation of Pat Robertson after Robertson claimed God had struck down Ariel Sharon for the Gaza withdrawal), but the mix of pro-Jewish sentiment and inherently anti-Jewish conspiracy theory must result in a psychological double-bind. How long before we see some lashing out, if not from Hagee then from others in the wider movement…?

PS: The Jewish Virtual Library explains the origin of the story of Hitler possibly being “partly Jewish”:

The idea seems to arise from the remote possibility that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish. Hitler’s father, Alois, was registered as an illegitimate child with no father. Alois’ mother worked in the home of a wealthy Jew and there is some chance a son in that household got the woman (i.e., Hitler’s grandmother) pregnant. Adolf Hitler was not Jewish.