John Hagee, a leading Christian evangelist who heads the Christian United for Israel movement, told 4,000 followers in Washington Wednesday night that, "The chief obstacle to peace in the Middle East is not Israelis living on the West Bank but the regime in Tehran." He charged that U.S. President Barack Obama is “singling out Israel" for concessions towards the establishment of a new Arab state within Israel's current borders.
Speaking at “A Night to Honor Israel" conference, Hagee declared, "Hello, Congress. We are putting pressure on the wrong people here. You want to get tough, get tough with the terrorists, not the the only democracy in the Middle East."
Hear Hagee's speech to AIPAC in 2007:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, trying to garner support against the pressures of the Obama administration, spoke to the group on Wednesday via satellite after a conversation earlier in the day with leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He told the Christians for Israel, "For centuries, the relationship between Christians and Jews was marked by conflict rather than partnership and friendship. But this is changing…. Today millions of Christians stand with Israel because they stand for freedom; millions of Christians stand with Israel because they stand for truth; and millions of Christians stand with Israel because they want to see a genuine peace in the Holy Land.”
Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, Israel Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and singer Dudi Fisher attended the Christian conference. Hagee told the delegates that Israel has the sovereign right to grow and develop the settlements of Israel as you see fit and not yield to the pressure of the United States government."
President Obama has railed out against construction for Jews in eastern Jerusalem as well as in Judea and Samaria, lumping all of them together as “settlements.” In his “reaching out to the Muslim world” speech in Cairo in early June, he applied the label “illegitimate” to “settlements,” referring to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Virginia Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, speaking at the conference earlier in the week, said that American polices in the Middle East must “be firmly grounded in the beliefs of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which this country was founded.”
Rejecting the Obama claim that a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace, Rep. Cantor told the Christian delegates, "We all know the real stumbling block to peace is posed by those who vehemently deny the nation of Israel's historical right to the land of Zion."
Hagee has been out of the limelight since Republican presidential candidate John McCain rejected his endorsement in the 2008 campaign because of remarks that many were thought were anti-Catholic and insensitive to Jews.
He told US News & World Report this week his group is trying to repair ties and build contacts on university campuses to educate Christians to stand with Israel. Hagee’s organization this summer is bringing 40 campus leaders to Poland to study the Holocaust before visiting Israel.
Commenting on criticism that the Christian for Israel group is seen as rightwing and partisan, Hagee stated, “Our membership is broad and diverse. We are a big tent for Christians who support certain fundamental propositions about Israel, namely that Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend herself from attack like any other nation.
“We are always working to broaden our base. We are reaching out to Catholics and the Protestant denominations. We are reaching out to Hispanic and African-American churches.”