AIPAC: Standing ovation for Rev. Hagee and standing to sing Hatikvah

The interesting parts of this account from the Conservative Voice are (1) the standing ovation for Hagee and (2) the revival of the Hatikvah. We've reviewed and interviewed David Brog, author of Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support The Jewish State, who now works for the good reverend, and we have a positive view of Hagee's sincerity towards Israel and the Jewish people.

Repacking AIPAC

The date was almost two years ago, May, 2005, and the Washington, D.C. AIPAC Policy Conference had attracted some 5,000 participants from across the United States. Included among the attendees were about a thousand college students. AIPAC invited a large number of top ranking university student body presidents, many of whom were not Jewish and knew little or almost nothing about the State of Israel. Along with the above participants was a sizable delegation of European Jewish community leaders; many stunned by their own personal experiences of the European rise of Islam and the erupting anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism. It appeared that the European delegates came to America's AIPAC Conference looking to gain a revitalizing and energizing injection of Jewish and pro-Israel strength. Little did they know that weeks after their return, the London subway terrorist bombing would shock Europe and become a shaping force in future foreign policy.

Days following the London bombing, British leadership, instead of harshly criticizing terrorists and terrorism, declared that the resolution of the Israeli-Arab issue was to be even more directly addressed. Just a few weeks later the virtual overnight Israeli evacuation of the Gaza Strip occurred. The fact that a potential Palestinian state was in days going to be delivered on a silver platter to the Arabs, made no difference to the organizers and executers of the London terrorist bombing. The terrorists sent the world another message that the Gaza Disengagement would not change a thing and would not resolve "shamed" or damaged Islamic Arab honor.

But in the banquet halls and large meeting rooms of the 2005 AIPAC Conference, the mood was quite different. The Conference theme centered around the Gaza Disengagement count down and pre-event fanfare, building infectious and blinding excitement leading to Israel's "bold and courageous" move to "unilaterally initiate the peace process". This landmark disengagement was to be a sign to the Arabs and the World that the commonly reprimanded and frequently UN condemned Israel was ready and willing to make "bold and broad" concessions for peace. Along with the Gaza disengagement theme, AIPAC's second theme was to enthusiastically praise and kindly welcome the official replacement for the despised and intransigent Yassir Arafat. The new breath of fresh air was no other than Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. Somehow forgetting that Abbas was Yassir Arafat's right hand man for the past forty years, and forgetting that Abbas's academic studies focused on Holocaust denial, Mr. Abbas was now being touted as a wonderful modern leader, peace maker, and a responsible state builder for the Palestinian people. It was stressed that Mr. Abbas would rapidly accomplish that which his predecessor Arafat never did; he would be the messiah-like king who would lead his people into an era of peace, a homeland, and a non-hate filled recognition of Israel.

The 2005 AIPAC keynote speakers included Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and various Middle East experts as well as congressional leaders. They all mistakenly echoed the expectation and prediction that a new era of peace and reconciliation was about to dawn. The AIPAC thrust was so thoroughly convinced and intent on the Gaza Disengagement being a total success and Abbas being the Palestinian dream leader that no backup plan or "what if it doesn't work out" discussion was even scheduled or entertained at the conference.

At the same time of the 2005 conference two senior AIPAC staff members were being questioned for allegedly passing American information to Israel. This was another Pollard-like situation which now put the focus on AIPAC's positioning and respect in the Washington, D.C. beltway.

There is a normal standard operating procedure at American Jewish events which is to sing the American national anthem followed by the Israeli national anthem. However, due to the potential concern questioning AIPAC's values as being America first or Israel first, the decision was made to omit Israel's anthem, the Hatikvah, "The Hope". AIPAC?s deletion of the Hatikvah was a dramatic statement and reflected its fear that American public opinion could possibly shift if the Israel-American dual loyalty question should arise.

Now two years later, AIPAC's Washington Conference was the largest ever. Some 6,500 people filled the Washington Convention Center with pride and conviction, eager to hear the voices, views and projections of America's and Israel's top leadership. California alone brought some 1,200 representatives, four people came from Hawaii, and overall the conference was filled with rabbis, synagogue congregants, organizational leaders, and a strong crowd of mature and sophisticated high school and college students.

This year, the 2007 theme of AIPAC was to focus on preventing Iran from reaching nuclear success as well as to insure that Hamas would not receive American and international funding prior to recognizing Israel's right to exist. The AIPAC speakers had moved away from speaking in the dream-filled terms of 2005. Now, the Gaza Disengagement was recognized for not fulfilling even one of the promises imagined by the Sharon government. The "bold and courageous" steps for peace led to thousands of missiles being shot into pre-1967 Israel, kidnapped Israeli soldiers, a destroyed Gaza farming industry, and hundreds of execution styled murders between Hamas and Fatah as well as between feuding Arab family factions. Gaza was now under endless lawlessness, endless weapon smuggling, uncontrollable contraband and explosive tunneling, and Gaza had become the safe and fear-free headquarters for the leading terror organizations as well as a new Al Quaeda office. The Hamas landslide election victory, children's camps for terrorist training, the ludicrous missile-firing cease fire agreement, and the recent Mecca Summit which emphasized that Hamas is in control and no recognition of Israel would be discussed are additional results of the Gaza disengagement. The PA Unity Government, siding with Hamas, further challenged those who tried to preach that Abbas and his Fatah party ever desired to recognize and work with Israel.

Only Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh stated that even if Hamas won't recognize Israel's existence, Israel must still make every effort to negotiate and therefore trust the Hamas government. The AIPAC audience gave very few applauds to Mr. Sneh's political position.

The most memorable event of the 2007 AIPAC conference was a dynamic twenty minute speech delivered by Pastor John Hagee. His speech received no fewer than 14 major ovations and many of them were standing ovations. This was a first for AIPAC to invite a Christian pastor to be the keynote speaker for their opening session. Pastor Hagee's impassioned speech will most likely go down in history as being the most memorable, emotional, and eye-opening event at an AIPAC conference. With his clear and succinct evangelical preacher vocal style, Pastor Hagee introduced to the national and international Jewish leadership attendees that the Jews are not alone in their support for Israel, and that at least 50 million Christians are fervently standing with them. He boldly called for a stop to appeasement and he fearlessly called for a united and undivided Jerusalem. Both statements received ovations that climaxed in a lengthy final standing ovation leaving few of the 6,500 participants choosing to remain in their seats.

Most Jews have never heard a Christian pastor speak with such conviction for the Jewish people without a hidden agenda for conversion. Most Jews have never heard a Christian speak with such passion for the cause to build and maintain a healthy Jewish state. Upon witnessing this Christian-Zionist speech, many AIPAC participants were left in shock as well as filled with pride, happiness, and amazement.

The strongly upheld 2005 AIPAC euphoria believed wholeheartedly in the "disengagement" solution and that Mahmoud Abbas would become a messianic-like leader. Within several months, the euphoria crashed as the Gaza Strip turned into something much worse than the lawless "wild wild West". Even though Abbas turned out to be basically powerless, highly disrespected among Palestinians, and a two-faced political disaster, sadly today, significant political leaders as well as Jewish leaders continue to redesign Abbas, justify his duplicitous behavior, believe in him, and even call him a ?moderate?.

Now, Christians are being taught to recognize that terrorism is evil and that the terrorists not only desire to destroy Israel and the Jewish People, but America as well as all non-Islamic believers. In light of the Holocaust and the failed Christian performance to actively care and protect the Jewish People, Christians are now aware that the terrorist organizations and Iran's nuclear developments will not stop with Israel's destruction. They know that the Iranian nuclear crosshairs are also focused on America.

The 2007 AIPAC Conference demonstrated that there is a significant number of Christians throughout the world who will stand by Israel, protect Israel, and bless Israel for all its good and glory. In that light, there was a return of "hope" to AIPAC. The Hatikvah, "The Hope", Israel's national anthem, was back on the AIPAC program.

Following the singing of America's national anthem, the pride-filled 6,000 plus AIPAC voices dramatically sang Hatikvah. In spite of the long list of worldwide bleakness, tragedies, horrors, and failures, for 2007, there was a repackaged and repacked AIPAC. There was a new "tikvah", hope, and a renewed strength to face the coming reality without the blinders of the past, but with clear convictions which can once again be widely felt, strongly articulated, and powerfully heard.

Daryl Temkin is the founder and director of the Israel Institute. He writes the weekly contemporary issues column titled, "Pivotal Thought".

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