On Tuesday, approximately 300,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., to show their support for Israel in an ongoing war that has claimed the lives of thousands of people. The lineup of speakers at the March for Israel included Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Jewish-American celebrities like Debra Messing and Tovah Feldshuh, as well as rabbis and cantors.
It also included an evangelical Christian pastor from Texas, infamous for his fire-and-brimstone prophecies about the end of the world. “Israel, you are not alone,” John Hagee proclaimed in his San Antonio twang. “If a line has to be drawn, we draw it together — Christians and Jews, we are one.”
Numerous progressive Jewish groups were aghast that Hagee was on the lineup. He’s an open bigot on any number of levels, having condemned gay people and Muslims to hell, and even getting rebuked publicly by then-Republican presidential nominee John McCain for his hatred of Catholics. What made Hagee’s presence at a primarily Jewish event particularly odd, however, is his history of bizarre and offensive comments about Jews themselves — such as claiming that “Rothschild bankers” control the U.S. economy — not to mention his embrace of a theology that views Jews as chess pieces for a massive, apocalyptic battle, in which the conversion of Jews to Christianity will set the stage for Jesus’ triumphant return to earth. Based on his many books and sermons, when Hagee says “Christians and Jews are one,” what he really means is that when Jews convert en masse, the world will end in bliss for the saved and misery for everyone else.
Hagee’s theology is at the core of an evangelical movement that has seen its influence rise meteorically in recent years: a doctrine called Christian Zionism. Hagee is perhaps its most famous, and certainly among its most influential, practitioner, and his presence at the March for Israel on Tuesday was in many ways a pinnacle for the ideology — which welcomes the bloodshed in Gaza. [Continue reading…]