ALDEN FILMS BLOG
I spent my 70th birthday this year in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, where I visited my son, Ed — who has been living there for almost four years. We toured Vietnam, with a side trip to Cambodia, and to mark my special day, Ed gave me a surprise birthday party. I didn’t count the number of lit candles on my cake, but there was quite a blaze!
Seventy is a particularly special year for Jews: Psalm 90:10 notes that “The span of our life is seventy years.” In Numbers (Bamidbar) 11:16, G-d says to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of Israel’s elders and officers of the People, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting (the Mishkan); The captivity of Jews in Babylon lasted seventy years, and seventy sages translated the Torah into Greek (The Septuagint) for Ptolemy II (Greek King of Egypt), in 132 B.C.E.
There is a famous Aggadah (saying) in The Ethics of the Fathers (Pirke Avot) by Rabbi Tarfon: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but you are not free to desist from it either.” Thus I begin this blog, because I feel that it is my responsibility.
Seventy years ago Christians such as Pastor John Grauel* and Pier Van Passen** supported Israel as individual clergymen. However, there was no organized group of Christians that supported Israel. In contrast, today the largest pro-Israel group, Christians United For Israel (CUFI), has a membership of more than 2.2 million people.
Founded in 2006, CUFI has become the largest pro-Israel organization in the world. It has created an almost millennial occurrence in world history, with its pro-Israel, pro-Jewish stance — all from a religious Christian standpoint. This is the first time in history that the primary supporters of Jews and Israel are not Jews. This is a miraculous event.
CUFI holds its annual conference in Washington, DC, with attendance and presentations by distinguished Christian and Jewish leaders, political commentators of the first rank, and members of Congress. This year marks the tenth annual conference of CUFI. The following are notes I took during this powerful and spiritually uplifting conference.
Pastor John Hagee, Founder and National Chairman of CUFI, began the summit by discussing the Iran deal, which if passed will free up 150 billion dollars of currently frozen funds, for use by terrorists. Hamas and Hezbollah are the first two divisions of the Iran army. This is the time to have a Bonhoeffer*** moment for Christians. Israel has the right to exist, the right to secure borders, and the right to self-defense.
David Brog, Executive Director of CUFI, pointed out the absolute cynicism of the administration’s support of Iran. Pastor Hagee ended his address by quoting Winston Churchill, who stated in 1938 after Munich, “You have the choice between Dishonor and War. You have chosen Dishonor but you will have War.” Bishop Keith Butler, an overseer of hundreds of black churches, spoke up for Israel. Pastor George Morrison of Denver gave an inspiring speech, quoting Isaiah 52:8, about the Watchmen for Israel.
Today CUFI is the Watchman. The Church must work on God’s agenda to protect Israel. Pastor Mac Hammond said that collectively Christians can make a difference for Israel. “This is not just a mark of the flesh. This is about the family tree of God, bringing God’s purpose for mankind.”
CUFI is the first centerpiece of this Family Tree of God. Michael Little, President of Christian Broadcasting Network, described CUFI as an orchestra/symphony, which uses its unity of purpose in its support of Israel.
Dr. Massad Barhoum, Director the Western Galilee Medical Center, spoke about the fact that as an Arab Christian he is fortunate to live in Israel. The hospital has saved over 600 Syrian casualties of the Syrian civil war. And who are these wounded? Most are enemies of Israel, but we must welcome and aid the stranger. “We are not treating the enemy, we are treating a human being.” This is a story of Israel that eludes the mainstream media, particularly The New York Times, NPR and MSNBC.
Major Elliot Chodoff of the IDF spoke about the 50 Jihadi groups fighting in Syria. He explained that Hezbollah has more than 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel, and is getting valuable combat experience in Syria. Iran is supporting both Shiite and Sunni organizations. There needs to be an active response to Iran.
There are many books on politics, but there is only one book to follow, The Bible, which states that during the Exodus the Jews followed “The Pillar of Smoke during the day and during the night they followed the Pillar of Fire.” But at the crossing of the Red Sea the Pillar of Smoke and the Pillar of Fire were both behind them. (One can infer from this statement that people and nations need to choose the righteous path.)
Pastor Steven Khoury of the Calvary Baptist Church in Jerusalem spoke about Arab Christians omitting the Old Testament in their learning. Israel today is based on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of the Past, Present and Future.
Lynn Hammond, head of Daughters of Zion, which began with 500 members and now has 20,000 members, spoke briefly about her organization.
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and now running for President, spoke to the Press about his candidacy. He pointed out that “The Iranian deal is a bad deal.” Most Europeans have ignored the plight of the Christians in the Middle East. Most important, the President of Egypt has been at the forefront in speaking out about the plight of Christians. Mike Huckabee first went to Israel in 1973, and has gone many more times and has seen positive changes. The borders of Israel given to the Jewish people in the Book of Numbers should be the natural borders of Israel.
Pastor Hagee announced that over 5,000 people are attending this Summit.
Candidates Forum with Bret Stephens
The Summit proceeded with the Candidates for President Forum, chaired by Bret Stephens, Associate Editor of the Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal and former Editor of The Jerusalem Post. He interviewed the following people: Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina; Rick Santorum, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania; George Pataki, former governor of New York; Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida; Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Texas;
Brett Stephens: Why should America care about the Middle East now that we are energy free?
Mike Huckabee: The Middle East and Israel are extremely important to Christians and the U.S. The U.S. should export its energy resources to the rest of the world to change the power structure of the Middle East.
Stephens: For 22 years the U.S. has been pursuing a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians.
Huckabee: We should end this policy
Stephens: President Obama said that he is the best friend that Israel has ever had.
Huckabee: He is the most anti-Israel President in the history of the presidency.
Stephens: The “Freedom Agenda” has been at the forefront of U.S. policy. What should the U.S. policy to the Arab World be?
Huckabee: The U.S. cannot export our form of government to the rest of the world. The U.S. military should not be used to fight these battles.
Stephens: What are the options against the deal with Iran?
Graham: We need 13 democratic senators to stop the agreement.
Stephens: Is war an option against Iran?
Graham: We’re going to live in a dangerous time as long as Barak Obama is President.
Stephens: We have autocratic partners in the Middle East (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia). Should we continue to support these countries?
Graham: Radical Islam must be destroyed.
Stephens: What should we do with Assad in Syria?
Santorum: We should have supported the pro-democracy group in Syria.
Stephens: What is the Middle East policy of a Santorum administration?
Santorum: We must identify who the enemy is. We must stand by our friends.(Israel).
Stephens: What should our policy toward the Palestinians be?
Santorum: We should support Israel in their negotiations.
Stephens: You were governor on 9/11. What lessons did you learn?
Pataki: We learned that Radical Islam is a threat to the U.S.
Stephens: If we get the deal, and you are the president, what do you do?
Pataki: Action must be taken. BDS (Boycott Delegitimization Sanctions) is an antisemitic movement.
Stephens: What is our special alliance with Israel?
Bush: It’s a source of stability in the Middle East, our Judeo-Christian heritage.
Stephens: What about the Oslo Peace Process?
Bush: Until there is stability, there is no chance of a treaty.
Stephens: What is your view of the settlements in the West Bank?
Bush: They should continue to build settlements in areas where settlements already exist.
Stephens: Is there any deal that would prevent Iran from reaching their nuclear goals?
Bush: This deal will legitimize Iran and destabilize the Middle East.
Stephens: Is the only alternative war?
Bush: There is a middle way. Sanctions would have had a devastating impact on Iran.
Stephens: What about the Oslo Peace Process? Should the U.S. continue to pursue a two-state solution?
Cruz: This is a decision for Israel to make. There has been arrogance in this administration toward Israel.
Stephens: Is there any kind of deal that could work with Iran?
Cruz: The single greatest danger to Israel today is Al Quds Day, Jew hatred day in Iran, where Iranians celebrate the destruction of Israel and the U.S.
This deal guarantees war. “The Obama administration advisor proudly calls this agreement ‘The Obamacare of Foreign Policy.’”
The Middle East Briefing
Israel is a sea of freedom in a region of repression. The forces of militant Islam are converging on the Middle East. The paramount issue today is preventing a nuclear Iran.
- Tzur Goldin – His brother was kidnapped and murdered in an ambush by Hamas after Hamas accepted a ceasefire.
Gary Bauer introduces Bret Stephens
Bret Stephens – clarified three issues:
1). Satirical Magazine – Charlie Hebdo: 10 of its employees were murdered by Muslims. The debate is why do they hate us? Answer: We are hated because of our support of Israel. The other view is that we are hated because of our civilization. Irreverence is a right. After the assault in Paris, we should settle that question once and for all. This is a clash of civilizations.
2). Elections in Israel: We ought to respect the results of elections. The Obama administration fabricated a lie against Israel after the election.
3). Iran: There’s going to be a deal. How to respond to it? The Obama administration argues that new leadership will be more liberal. Prove to us that the new regime will be more liberal.
Transactional argument: An agreement of mutual convenience. A transaction needs some sort of trust. Iran has been caught cheating even during negotiations. This deal is the ultimate hostage situation (Iran doing our bidding against ISIS).
Obama says that this is the best deal. But a regime that will stone a woman to death should not have nuclear weapons.
Dr. Yoram Hazony, President, Herzl Institute:
There is a long history of Christian support for the reestablishment of the Jewish state in the Holy Land: Lord Palmerston in 1840; David Lloyd George, 1903; Arthur Balfour, 1917, and Woodrow Wilson, 1919.
The Christian friends of Israel have Israel’s back. This is Israel’s strategic depth. In the Church today, many mainstream Christian Churches are questioning the Old Testament as not being politically correct. From this stance it’s a small step to being anti-Israel and supporting BDS.
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
CUFI is the best of America. I hate the term “It is what it is.” It should be “It is what you make of it.” We need to be rooted in our Bible. The miracle of the ingathering of Jews to Israel is predicted in the Bible. Jerusalem est perdit (Jerusalem is no more), has been changed to Jerusalem is reunited, in spite of UNESCO resolutions.
Erick Stakelbeck, CBN correspondent, host and analyst:
This is literally life and death. Everything CUFI has worked against in the past ten years (a nuclear Iran) has come to a forefront (Iran and ISIS).
Here in America it does affect us. ISIS now has 36,000 square miles (with 8 million people) in Syria and Iraq. The FBI has disclosed that in all 50 states we have a network of ISIS supporters and members. The strategy of ISIS is to turn America into a battleground of guerilla warfare.
The Iran deal is an abomination. Iran has now become our ally against ISIS. Iran is also developing ICBMs. ICBMs are a threat to the United States.
Re Israel: Everything good (Israel) is considered evil.
Re Iran: Everything evil (Iran) is considered good.
Rely on God’s promises. “I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Pastor Jay Bailey: Georgia has 1000 members in the Solid Rock Congregation.
Dr. Fernando Cabrera (Bronx, N.Y.) has worked to counteract antisemitic feeling in the Latino community. New York has legislation under review to have police protection in all religious institutions. New York City has almost 7,000 churches.
Pastor Baily: You feel that everything is unraveling.
Pastor Lyndon is CUFI head of region.
Cabrera: I was shocked at a protest against a resolution for a remembrance of Auschwitz in the New York City Council. This reflects an anti-Israel attitude that has invaded the U.S.
Pastor Bailey sees a great increase in antisemitism on college campuses.
Pastor Lyndon sees BDS as antisemitic. He quotes Abraham Lincoln: “What’s taught in the classrooms is later quoted in the halls of Congress.”
Pope Francis is doing an end run around Benjamin Netanyahu. There seems to be a change in the Vatican’s attitude to Israel, and possibly to Jews.
Pastors have to communicate truth unequivocally about the prophetic nature of Israel. Historically Black colleges invited many European Jewish refugees to join their faculties in the l930s and 1940s.
Blood Moons and Shmittah —How does this affect the attitudes of Christians to Israel?
Pastor Lyndon – These moons fall only on Jewish feast days.
A Night to Honor Israel:
Before the speakers appeared there was a celebration of Israel in a large hall, with music, dancing and the waving of Israeli and American flags. On the wall there is a triptych of Jerusalem in all its glory, the old and the new.
Pastor Hagee welcomed the 6,000 attendees, television audience and distinguished guests. After an inspiring singing of The Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah, Rabbi Schindler of San Antonio gave a moving invocation. “From the depths of the Holocaust to the restoration of the Jews to the holy land, Israel is the miracle of our time. This 10th Summit is very special. CUFI is the friend of all Jews.”
Rabbi Schindler declared that Pastor Hagee has brought Light instead of Darkness to humanity.”
Pastor George Morrison of Faith Bible Chapel of Lakewood, Colorado introduced a musical interlude praising Israel.
Pastor Happy Caldwell of Little Rock, Arkansas introduced Pastor John Hagee.
Pastor Hagee began by describing how CUFI was started. In 2006, he invited 400 Evangelical leaders to a meeting at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Today CUFI has a permanent representative, Gary Bauer, in Washington, DC. CUFI now has an office in the United Kingdom as well.
“Israel will prevail.” The UN is the new Tower of Babel. “Boycotting Israel is about antisemitism.” CUFI will press legislation to boycott the boycotters (BDS supporters) by states. The CUFI ActionN Fund speaks the truth about Israel every day in Washington, DC. Illinois and South Carolina have already passed anti-BDS legislation.
Pastor Mac Hammond introduced Dennis Prager:
“There is so much evil in the world. Evil is normal, being good is abnormal. CUFI is like an island of goodness. Every Jew of my generation wonders when meeting a Gentile, Would he hide me if there was a new Holocaust?”
“The Pope gives an encyclical on carbon emissions while Christians are being killed in the Middle East. The Pope accepts a crucifix made from a hammer and sickle from the dictator of Bolivia. Under the Hammer and Sickle/Communism over 100 million human beings were murdered. The Pope recognizes Palestine; CUFI is really Christians United for Christians. You are also Christians United for America. Those who love God hate evil.”
Pastor Lyndon from Nashville, TN introduced David Brog:
“The BDS movement is antisemitic. The freest Muslims and Christians in the Middle East are the Muslims and Christians of Israel. The college campus is the most hostile place for Israel in America. God Bless You, CUFI on campus. There are now 140 CUFI chapters on college campuses.
Yvonnette Lewis, chapter chairperson at The University of Georgia gave a rousing talk about CUFI and its impact on campuses.
Bishop Keith Butler stated that CUFI was created for this time, like Queen Esther.
Michael Little, President of CBN introduced Ambassador Ron Dermer.
“Thank you, Pastor Hagee and CUFI. Thank you CUFI on Campus. Today Israel needs its Christian friends more than ever. The Iran deal will lead to more terror. It will further nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It is prophetic that this Summit is taking place during the three-week mourning period leading up to Tish B’Av. In Ecclesiastes, this is the time to speak up.”
Pastor Hagee introduced Pastor Charles Stanley.
“CUFI continues to affirm Israel’s right to exist.”
A VIEW FROM THE HILL (Members of Congress):
David Brog introduced members of Congress. “There’s Peace In Our Time” (Neville Chamberlain’s statement after ceding Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in 1938 at Munich.) Prime Minister Netanyahu has said this deal is an historic mistake.”
Senator Tom Cotton (Republican of Arkansas):
“I stand against BDS and the delegitimization of Israel.” Does the agreement stop Iran’s nuclear program? “Dismantling the program must be the policy of this administration. This agreement should be rejected, and sanctions should be restored.’For Zion’s sake, I will not be quiet’” (Isaiah).
Congressman Louie Gohmert (Republican of Texas):
“You den of vipers, you snakes to the UN, the international community, the State Department. In 2010 we supported Israel’s enemies. Obama has betrayed Israel many times.”
Senator John Cornyn (Republican of Texas):
Violence against Jews has increased in recent weeks during Ramadan. Israel is surrounded by enemies. It is not the time to turn our back on Israel. We need 67 votes in the Senate to overturn this agreement. I will never apologize to standing with Israel.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat of Hawaii):
“’Aloha’ has a deeper meaning . Alo = to share. The late Senator Daniel Inouye was a great supporter of Israel. Israel named a missile facility after Senator Inouye. Radical Islam is the real enemy.”
Congressman Trent Franks (Republican of Arizona) and member of the Armed Forces Committee:
“Benjamin Netanyahu is the leading voice for freedom in the world. Barak Obama is the leading apologist for Iran.”
Senator Tim Scott (Republican of South Carolina):
Like a revival preacher, Senator Scott roused the audience. He was very funny and made excellent points. Even though he failed English and Spanish in high school, he says he can still read a bad deal. “We are on the side of the Lord.”
Personal meetings with the staff of Senators Menendez and Booker.
I met with the staff of both Senators, and wrote letters to both praising their support of Israel and requesting that they reject the Iran Nuclear Treaty as a mortal threat to Israel and to the Jewish People. I was heartened by the large number of CUFI members I saw in the Senate buildings.
Pastor Mac Hammond introduced Rabbi Shlomo Riskin:
“President Obama has decreed that Iran will be a nuclear power, with the blessings of the international community. We are not alone, because CUFI stands with Israel. One of the greatest miracles of this period is this organization, where Jews and Christians come together, united in their support of Israel.”
Pastor Hagee presented The Defender of Israel Award to Elie Wiesel. Irving Roth accepted the award.
Irving Roth was a bunkmate with Elie Wiesel at Auschwitz. On April 11, 1945, at 3:00 p.m., they were liberated. Two American soldiers. one white, and one black, entered our barracks. This was our first indication that we were free. We had arrived in Auschwitz a year earlier.
“How do you create the Holocaust? The answer is demonization. The first step was a boycott of the Jews. It is now 70 years later and nothing has changed. Nobody cares. Don’t they (The State Department) understand that demonizing Israel is a repeat of the Nazi horrors? CUFI are the Righteous of the world.”
CUFI is a presence on 140 campuses, where they fight BDS. Regional boot camps are held to train students to respond to this movement.
Chelsea Andrews: “I went to Israel and met Syrian patients from the civil war. I also met Israelis and American Jews for the first time, celebrating a Shabbat and traveling around the country. As a student leader I helped pass an anti-BDS amendment at my college.” She is now an aid to Gary Bauer, CUFI’s representative in Washington.
Pastor Hagee has set up a CUFI office in the UK, to fight antisemitism. Des Starrit is the leader. Colonel Richard Kemp of the British Army spoke at CUFI UK. Diane Hagee spoke about supporting CUFI.
David Brog introduced Colonel Richard Kemp of the British Army.
“Orde Wingate taught the Jews of Palestine how to fight. Wingate is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.”
“The one simple reality is that the Palestinians want the destruction of the Jewish State. The Arabs realize that they can’t destroy Israel by military force, so they have begun the greatest smear campaign in the history of the world. Israel is accused by the UN Human Rights Council of committing war crimes in Gaza. But the reality of the conflict is that Hamas intentionally encouraged Arab casualties. The morality of the IDF is that they try to prevent civilian casualties. There is a similarity in Auschwitz and the tunnels of Hamas, in that they both were built to kill Jews.”
This is my second year at the CUFI Summit in Washington, DC. To quote Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chairman of The Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, “CUFI is where I go to reaffirm my belief and love of Israel.” It is especially heartening to see that Israel is no longer the exclusive purview only of the Jewish people. The Christian love and support of Israel points to a new period of history, hopefully a good one.
On the other hand, there are many Christians and Christian denominations which absolutely hate Israel, and present their views clouded in their so- called concern for the Palestinians. They utter the words in Church “Thy Will be done, Thy Kingdom Come.” However, they don’t believe a word of it. If they did, they would be pro-Israel and pro-Jewish, which they’re obviously not. Most mainstream Christian denominations say one thing and do the other. The one thing they all have in common is that in their religion/creed, the Jews and Israel have no place in history anymore. That is why the Pope has recognized Palestine (a non state community of hate designed to kill Jews) instead of Kurdistan, Tibet, the Tamils in Sri Lanka et al; and that is why the United Church of Christ recently embraced BDS.*****
The whole world is now rejoicing in the inevitable building of A bombs, and maybe H bombs by Iran which the Iranians themselves have said repeatedly will be built to destroy Israel. They have given it their total blessing. Our civilization has also embraced an antagonistic attitude toward the family, toward traditional morality and toward sexual practices. Our leaders no longer believe in Democracy with the recent book by former Supreme Court Justice Stevens calling for the elimination of the First, Second and Fifth Amendments. Our cities and towns are now populated by invaders who want to kill us. Our government refuses to protect us from this current onslaught.
I honestly think that with Israel alone —and it is alone— Judaism and the Jewish people are on trial for their survival once again. Without Israel the Jewish people will wither away. This is Purim updated; but with a difference. The whole world is supporting Haman. This is why I believe that we are entering a whole new branch of history. But in this history millions of devout Christians are on our side for the first time. We should welcome this with open arms, not with suspicion. It is time to realize that the old allies have either passed from the scene or have changed their views towards Israel and the Jewish People. We cannot dwell on the past. 2500 years ago the Persian King Cyrus came to our rescue. Today our new allies are devout Christians who believe fervently in Israel and the Jewish People.
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*Reverend John Stanley Grauel was a Methodist Minister and American Christian Zionist leader. He was a crew member of the famed refugee ship the SS Exodus–1947, and a secret Haganah operative.
**Pier Van Paassen was a Unitarian Minister who championed Zionism and spoke about the plight of European Jewry.
***Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor and a key founding member of the Confessing Church that stood in opposition to the Nazi regime. His most famous quote is “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil–Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
****Shmittah is the Seventh Year where the land lies fallow. It is the Sabbath of the Holy Land.
*****These recent events are a return to Replacement Theology, which the early Church Fathers created as an attack on Judaism and on the Jewish People’s place in history.