In an interview this week, David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, elaborated to me on a widespread reluctance among Jewish leaders to completely disassociate themselves from Hagee. Describing the feelings of Reform rabbis and leaders as “paradoxical,” Saperstein said that on the one hand, they have an “appreciation of [Hagee’s] financial, cultural, and political support for Israel in broadest sense,” but are simultaneously experiencing “alarming concern about his vision of the world, comments about gays, Catholics, Katrina, Muslims, the Holocaust.” Saperstein added that the “repugnance” Jews feel towards Hagee’s views has “only intensified in the past month or two,” but that “we often find common ground with groups whose views . . . are deeply troubling to us or that we are deeply opposed to.”
Here the question remains: What is that common ground, exactly? That Hagee believes that the Bible foretells a world-ending showdown that will swallow a Muslim holy site, decimate an army of Arabs, and lead the Christianization of the Middle East?
Listen; it’s not just that Evangelicals value Israel in a strictly utilitarian sense, rather than as a country full of human beings. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s not the only part, and obviously alliances based on a pragmatism can work. But not to put too fine a point on it, RADICAL APOCALYPTIC EVANGELICAL PROTESTANTISM IS NOT GOOD FOR THE JEWS. Pragmatic calculations change, and when it comes time for Hagee and his crew to sell the Jews down the river, they will do so without a twinge of conscience, and in utter confidence that they are doing God’s work. Alliances with people who view your destruction as a stepping stone to Armageddon and who, moreover, hate everything else that you represent (loathing of “latte sipping elitist intellectuals” is recognizable as anti-semitism to anyone with eyes open) will not, in the fullness of time, prove sensible.
…a couple of people in comments have brought up the “end of days, which is long enough” argument, which suggests that Evangelicals can be relied upon to support Israel until the Apocalypse, and since that’s never going to come, why worry? As I tried to suggest above, I think that this is exceptionally misguided. Evangelical support for Israel won’t, actually, last until the End of Days. When the alliance breaks (some new revelation by some new figure in the movement) the essential hostility towards Jews and all that they represent will remain, probably abetted by a sense of grievance. It doesn’t take a genius to see that it’s going to end badly…