I wrote earlier about the rapture enthusiasts who hope for a conflagration in the Middle East (i.e. opposing a cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah) and have the ear of the White House when it comes Middle East policy these days.
While the crisis at the Israel-Lebanon border drew more mainstream media attention to CUFI’s activities, Hagee’s supporters have long known that leading Republicans are listening. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a prominent Jewish ally of the evangelical right (and friend of Jack Abramoff) has said that Hagee “without question, yes, absolutely” has the ear of the White House. Hagee’s annual Night to Honor Israel at his church has drawn prominent Republicans, including Tom DeLay, who was the keynote speaker in 2002.
Well it turns out their influence goes deeper than I imagined, and that they have more than one possible ending in mind.
Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a newly formed political organization that tells its members that supporting Israel’s expansionist policies is “a biblical imperative.” CUFI’s Washington lobbyist, David Brog, told me that during the meetings, CUFI representatives pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah.
The White House instructed Brog not to reveal the names of officials he met with, Brog said.
… For Hagee and for CUFI, all roads lead to a “nuclear showdown: with Iran. Diplomacy would only make God angry. As Hagee warns in Jerusalem Countdown, “Those who follow a policy of opposition to God’s purposes will receive the swift and severe judgment of God without limitation.”
(I grabbed the beginning and end, but the whole thing is worth a read.)
But Sarah Posner, who wrote the AlterNet piece mentioned earlier, suggests that an alternate ending — one with a possible role for the UN — would still satisfy the yearnings of the rapture fetishists.
But at the same time, Hagee’s main media outlet, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, seemed to be getting its audience ready for the possibility of an international peacekeeping force at the Israel-Lebanon border, by assuring them that even with an international peacekeeping force, Armageddon is still on its way.
For several days last week, TBN featured a Biblical propheciser who said that efforts to put an international force in place in a buffer zone at the Israel/Lebanon border prove that we are about to enter the period of false peace during which the Antichrist will rule. Why? Because (as Hagee says, too) Ezekiel says the Antichrist will be European, so if a peacekeeping force comprised of European troops is patrolling the border, that means that the Antichrist has come to Israel to give people a false sense of peace. The real showdown, he said, will be after everyone is lulled into a false sense of security.
And these are the people meeting with the White House on Middle East policy? There are two possibilities here. Either the Bush administration is just humoring the likes of CUFI and the Apostolic Congress, or the inmates are running the asylum.