Rabbi Yoffie Exposes and Confronts America's Christian Extremists

I read with interest the press release issued by the Union for Reform Judaism regarding the comments of their President Rabbi Eric Yoffie on April 2, 2008. Reasonable people say reasonable things and make peace possible.
See below the press release. No need for comment from me.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie confronts extremist Christian Zionist: Reform Jews should not engage in alliances with Hagee’s Christians United for Israel
CINCINNATI, OH – April 2, 2008 –The president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tonight made clear his disagreement with those in the American Jewish community who have embraced Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United for Israel (CUFI), saying that the views of Pastor Hagee and many other Christian Zionists “may advance their theology but they do so at the expense of Israel’s security and well-being.”
Rabbi Eric Yoffie , who over the past two years made headlines when he spoke at the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America, drew a sharp distinction between dialogue and political alliances which he said “demand of us a higher standard and which require both common values and common interests.” Yoffie made his comments during a panel discussion before the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) meeting here this week.
Hagee founded CUFI two years ago and has, since then, run “Night to Honor for Israel” events across the country, where he has been warmly received by Federation audiences. In his address tonight, Yoffie focused on the problems with Hagee’s form of Christian Zionism and why the Jewish community needs to reject it.
Yoffie gave two primary reasons not to engage in alliances with Hagee. The first is Hagee’s vitriolic attacks on other religious traditions, particularly Muslims and Catholics. But even more important, Yoffie said, is Hagee’s stance on Israel.
“What [Hagee and his allies] mean by support of Israel and what we mean by support of Israel are two very different things,” Yoffie said. Their vision of Israel rejects a two-state solution, rejects the possibility of a democratic Israel, and supports the permanent occupation of all Arab lands now controlled by Israel,” he continued. “If implemented, in fact, these views would mean disaster for Israel, and would lead to diplomatic isolation, increased violence, and the loss of Israel’s Jewish majority.”
Rabbi Yoffie noted that some of his rabbinic colleagues claim that relationships with CUFI are necessary in a time where Israel needs all the friends she can gather. “The concerns expressed here are reasonable,” said Yoffie, “but I would draw precisely the opposite conclusion.”
Throughout the history of Israel, the central principle of pro-Israel advocacy in America is that it must be moderate and bi-partisan, he said. Additionally Yoffie noted that the majority of the American Evangelical community is beginning to move away from the likes of Pastor Hagee’s politics and theology. “All the evidence that we have indicates that Evangelicals are tired of stridence and desire more pluralism and moderation…they see their future far more with Rick Warren than they do with John Hagee,” he said.
“On Israeli-Palestinian politics, John Hagee and the CUFI are extremists,” Rabbi Yoffie argued. “They do not represent most Evangelicals, do not represent most Republicans, and do not represent the American heartland. In expressing contempt for other religions and rejecting territorial compromise under any and all circumstances, their views run against the American grain. Those who advocate embracing them now are misreading in a monumental way the American political and religious landscape.”
Although Rabbi Yoffie made clear that he is not planning on launching a campaign against Hagee or CUFI, he called for Reform congregations to not participate in CUFI’s events and to continue to call for public condemnation of inflammatory and bigoted statements from Christian Zionist leadership.
“We should refrain from participating in ‘Night to Honor Israel’ road shows that Pastor Hagee sponsors, Yoffie told the rabbis. “I have listened to my colleagues who have chosen to do otherwise and have tried to understand. But my view is that most of the time, these evenings will not increase our political clout. They will reduce our political clout and drive away our allies. And I cannot accept the argument from Jewish leaders that they can endorse CUFI events, appear as speakers at these events, accept CUFI money, and still distance themselves from the positions that CUFI embraces.
This issue is at its core about support of Israel, he explained. “And it is important to remember that Israel’s greatest friends and most important defenders are not the fundamentalists and extremists and those who take their orders directly from God, but those who work for an end to this terrible conflict, and who pray for peace for all who live in the land that we all call holy,” Rabbi Yoffie said as he finished his speech.
The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.


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