JOHN HAGEE AND MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: FEARFUL SYMMETRY
by Bill Weinberg, Israel e-News
John McCain's decision to reject the endorsement of Rev. John Hagee is a glimmer of hope, though it is disturbing that he sought his support in the first place. It is more disturbing still that he continues to maintain some Beltway credibility. David Brog, director of Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUFI), spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington June 4. (Hagee himself spoke to the 2007 AIPAC meet.) Sen. Joe Lieberman, while saying Hagee's comments on the Holocaust were "hurtful," also told Fox News after the controversy: "He represents a lot of people in this country, particularly Christians who care about the state of Israel."
Not all in Israel are happy about this kind of support. Colette Avital, commenting on the Hagee affair for the daily Haaretz, wrote: "Do we still need to point out that Jesus can return only after Armageddon, and to this end it is best if Israel continues to be at war?"
But most disturbing—especially in the event McCain gains the Oval Office—is how Hagee closely mirrors the leader of Iran that he and candidate McCain both profligately condemn. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005 declaring his intention to "hasten the emergence" of the Mahdi—the Twelfth Imam, or successor to the Prophet Muhammed, who the Shi'ite faithful believe will return from a millennium of "occultation" to redeem the world. The New York Times reported May 20 that Ahmadinejad said in a nationally broadcast speech that the Mahdi "supported the day-to-day workings of his government and was helping him in the face of international pressure." He has even established a "well-financed foundation" to prepare his nation for the imam's return.
When Ahmadinejad came under criticism from some clerics for too closely mingling religion and politics, he defended himself at a news conference: "To deny the help of the imam is very bad It is very bad to say that the imam will not emerge for another few hundred years; who are you to say that?"
Hagee's book Jerusalem Countdown similarly calls for speeding along worldly events to prepare for the End Times—and (now notoriously) says the Holocaust was God's retribution on the Jews for rebelling against Him, as well as His way of driving them to re-establish the state of Israel, a prerequisite for Armageddon.
Hagee has also got his own "well-funded foundation" to prepare for Christ's return, CUFI. Its website warns: "There is a new Hitler in the Middle East—President Ahmadinejad of Iran."
We can only be encouraged by any falling-out between Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs—even if it is a case of real zealots and ideologues breaking with what they see as cynical political exploitation of the apocalyptic faith.
But there needs to be a clear-cut break between Washington power and apocalyptic evangelicalism in the United States. A US-Iran confrontation fueled on both sides by eschatological fervor is a threat which will persist.
Iraq could be a likely flashpoint. In the profusion of Shi'ite militias in the Iraq conflict, one, known as the Jund al-Samaa—"Soldiers of Heaven"—took up arms in Najaf last year with the apparent intention of hastening the return of the Mahdi. Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army also hopes for an imminent return of the Twelfth Imam. Iran's links to these factions is unclear, and possibly overstated by the White House. But the nightmarish violence in Iraq will continue to fuel such movements.
Hagee's counterparts in Israel are also gaining ground, and are a growing presence at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, site of the last Jewish temple—which today houses the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and al-Aksa Mosque, or Dome of the Rock, Islam's third holiest site.
The Jewish fundamentalist group "Ateret Cohanim" and the Muslim Waqf that administers the Haram al-Sharif accuse each other of carrying out illegal excavations at the Temple Mount. At issue is the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, whose re-emergence is held by the Jewish fundamentalists as signaling the coming of the messiah. One fundamentalist group, the Temple Mount Faithful, openly seeks to build a new Jewish temple at the site—which would, of course, mean demolishing the Dome of the Rock, adding to fears about the Israeli-approved excavations.
"Temple Movements" sacrificed goats at the site before Israel's courts issued a ruling barring the ritual. But the self-proclaimed "New Sanhedrin Council"—conceived by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz as a revival of the ancient Hebrew supreme religious body, the Sanhedrin Court—refuse to recognize Israel's secular courts. In February 2007, six children were shot and wounded in a Hebron protest against the Jewish archeological work at the Temple Mount. Tisha b'Av, the Jewish holiday commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE, generally falling in August, always sees security beefed up at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.
Ironically, the Jewish fundamentalists arguably have more of an ear in Washington's corridors of power than Tel Aviv's. The mutual enmity between Hagee and Ahmadinejad reflects their fundamental unity. A clear repudiation of such politics in post-Bush America would go a long way towards staving off unparalleled disaster. Unfortunately, that still hasn't quite happened.
Bill Weinberg is the editor of World War 4 Report.
This story first appeared June 20 on Israel e-News.
After McCain Ditches Hagee, He Gets a Warm Reception at AIPAC
The American Prospect, via Israel e-News, June 12, 2008
CUFI: They only appear to be supporters
by Colette Avital, Ha'aretz, via Israel e-News, June 4, 2008
Lieberman defends radical McCain ally John Hagee
Israel e-News, May 21, 2008
Christians United for Israel
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by Michael I. Niman
World War 4 Report, April 2008
BEHIND THE "SOLDIERS OF HEAVEN"
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by Sarkis Pogossian
World War 4 Report, February 2007
From our Daily Report:
John Hagee and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: fearful symmetry
WW4 Report, May 22, 2008
Reprinted by World War 4 Report, July 1, 2008
Reprinting permissible with attribution