WASHINGTON – “Israel stands surrounded by enemies intent on her annihilation, but she does not stand alone,” declares the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world.
Christians United for Israel is hosting its seventh annual national summit in Washington, D.C., from July 16 to July 18 – where the group seeks to show the world Americans will not remain silent when Israel’s enemies threaten to destroy the Jewish state.
Its mission is to “provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to biblical issues.”
Holocaust survivor Irving Roth, director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea in New York, warned attendees that after defeat of the Nazi forces, “the capital of anti-Semitism moved to Cairo and Damascus.”
He also noted that revolutions in Arab countries are bringing Islamists to power – including the recent election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s newest president.
Roth raised concerns about the growth of Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Students Association on American college campuses. He warned that the goal of the organization is to turn the minds of future American leaders against Israel.
Speaking in the opening session of the summit, John Hagee, pastor of the San Antonio megachurch Cornerstone and chairman of Christians United for Israel, or CUFI, celebrated the organization’s rapid growth.
From a group of 400 leaders meeting in 2006, it has exploded to include more than 1 million members.
Hagee expounded on the group’s successes. CUFI now boasts a thriving university wing with 10 full-time employees and 100 chapters on college campuses nationwide. Approximately 400 students representing 240 colleges and universities are attending the summit.
CUFI also measures its reach in social media. Its Facebook page has received more than 755,000 likes, which, Hagee noted, is more than the 300,000 viewers who reportedly watch CNN daytime.
Every month, CUFI holds more than 40 pro-Israel events across the country. Hagee touted the success of the group’s hundreds of “Nights to Honor Israel,” events that promote Christian solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
In 1978, Hagee traveled to Jerusalem and prayed at the Western Wall, alongside an elderly orthodox Jewish man who prayed with all his might, rocking back and forth and reciting scripture.
On the group’s website, Hagee explained, “I thought to myself, ‘Here we are at the same holy place, praying to the same God and quoting the same scripture, yet I know nothing about this man or his faith.’”
He continued, “In the days that followed, my heart was charged with a commission from the Holy Spirit to do all that I could to bring Christians and Jews together in an atmosphere of mutual esteem and unconditional love.”
Just months after his visit, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq. According to Hagee, the mainstream media “devoured Israel” for its actions.
However, Hagee explained, “I personally felt that Israel had done the peace-loving world a favor by stopping the construction of a nuclear reactor that most assuredly would have been used for the production of nuclear bombs in the Middle East. The strike was executed with surgical precision and without the loss of one life against a nation that had a standing declaration of war against Israel since 1948. It was a preemptive strike that spared the world from Saddam Hussein’s madness.”
As the television commentators chastised Israel, Hagee told his wife, “I disagree with their position! How can we publicly express our support for Israel in such a way where the press will send a message to our Jewish friends that we support Israel’s courage to defend themselves?”
Within minutes, he conceived of the idea to host events honoring Israel. Amid reported bomb threats, on Sept. 10, 1981, the first “Night to Honor Israel” was presented in San Antonio, Texas. Now the events are hosted in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Kenya. (A calendar of upcoming events is available on the CUFI website.)
The Washington, D.C., summit includes a July 17 “Night to Honor Israel” banquet, featuring Rep. Michele Bachmann as keynote speaker.
During the opening session today, Hagee and Roth noted the continued tensions between the U.S.-Israel alliance and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. Roth shared some advice for the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is finishing her visit to the Middle East. He said the U.S. must make it clear to the new president of Egypt that he will not receive American support if he doesn’t back the status quo peace with Israel.
Following Hagee’s speech, CUFI advisory board member Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg addressed the crowd. The rabbi spoke about the heritage of the Jewish people in Israel and their connection to the land.
“No (foreign) nation has ever thrived in Israel,” he told an enthralled audience. “You cannot thrive on stolen land. The Jews came and it thrived. … The Torah predicted it.”
On July 18, assembled CUFI activists will take to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress and “present the biblical positions of our support for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.”