(CNSNews.com) - Evangelical Christians from all 50 states gathered in Washington, D.C., this week to express their solidarity with the state of Israel in the face of mounting challenges to its security from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.
Christians United for Israel, a group formed by San Antonio mega-church Pastor John Hagee, is holding its second annual summit in the District of Columbia.
CUFI's main objectives are to "educate and build Christian support for Israel throughout America" by educating Christians on the "biblical and moral imperatives of supporting Israel" and "to convene in Washington" in order to "enable CUFI members to personally speak with their elected representatives on behalf of Israel."
CUFI will organize members through rapid response alerts to request action for Israel from the administration and Congress at "critical junctures" during the remainder of the year.
The executive board of CUFI features several leading figures in the evangelical Christian community - Hagee, American Values President Gary Bauer and Christian Broadcasting Network President Michael Little.
The goal of CUFI, according to Hagee, is to become the Christian version of the America Israel Political Action Committee, a powerful lobbying panel that also urges strong U.S. support for Israel.
Hagee may have had success in this regard. At their inaugural Washington summit last year, CUFI drew 3,500 attendants. David Brog, executive director for CUFI, reported that it took AIPAC 15 years to draw 2,000 attendants to an annual policy conference.
"With each passing day," CUFI notes, "the threats to Israel and the Jewish people are growing. Iran's president has called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' -- and he is rapidly acquiring the nuclear technology to carry out this threat.
"Hezbollah has retrenched and re-armed ... and the terrorist group Hamas - also committed to destroying Israel - has now taken over the Gaza Strip and is smuggling in arms daily in preparation for the next war with Israel," the group added.
In a February 2006 article for Charisma Magazine, the periodical of the Pentecostal movement, Hagee direly stated that ?if September 11 proved anything, it showed that America is not immune from attack by our enemies. It also proves beyond any reasonable doubt that our enemies are willing to use whatever weapons they have to kill as many of us as possible. In Islam, the highest honor is to die a martyr by killing Christians and Jews ?
"Several authorities have said Iran could have a nuclear bomb ready by April 2006. If Israel strikes beforehand, there doubtless will be a vast pan-Arabic Islamic army assembled to attack Israel. Once again, Jerusalem has become the target. We are standing on the brink of a nuclear Armageddon," Hagee added.
"The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. Israel and America must confront Iran's nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. For Israel to wait is to risk committing national suicide."
Critics, however, have argued that CUFI is taking a far more ambitious stance than simple lobbying. In their estimation, CUFI supports the establishment of an Israel far larger than its current size and the defeat of her enemies through American support.
According to Max Blumenthal, a writer for The Nation, "CUFI representatives [met with] White House officials [and pressed them] to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah."
Blumenthal also notes Hagee's unwavering belief that the scriptures of the Bible are true, and that Israel will be the site of the Rapture.
By supporting a strong Israel, Blumenthal believes that Hagee would be hastening the end times and the deliverance of the nation of Israel and Christians. He likened it to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's belief that by acquiring nuclear weapons and using them, he could hasten the return of Shia Islam's messiah figure, the hidden 12th Imam.
He cites Hagee's 1996 book, "The Beginning of the End," as saying that "Israel has a divine right to [the West Bank and Gaza], and to give it away [in the 1993 Oslo Accords] was an act of treason against Israel and an abomination against God." See Map
The Christians United for Israel 2007 summit magazine insists that God has granted for Israel lands that encompass much of the Levant. The "Royal Grant of Abraham" encompasses territory that spans from the city of Hamah in central Syria southward to Israel's current boundary with Egypt, eastward to the Euphrates River.
Were such land given to Israel today, much of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq would cease to be in their current forms.
Hagee wrote in that magazine that "Israel belongs to God Himself! As Creator of heaven and earth, God had the right of ownership to give the land to whomever He chose. God gave that title deed for the land of Israel to Abraham, Issac, Jacob and their descendents 'forever.' Therefore, modern-day Palestinians have no Biblical mandate to own the land."
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