Sen. Joe Lieberman will speak tonight at a conference hosted by the controversial pastor John Hagee.
Hagee was spurned by presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain for his claim that God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land.
A Lieberman spokesman on Monday confirmed that the independent Connecticut senator plans to speak at Hagee's “Christians United for Israel” summit in Washington.
Lieberman's planned appearance has sparked criticism, particularly among some liberal advocacy groups who have urged him to cancel his speech.
Democracy for America called on Lieberman to cut his ties to the Texas evangelical preacher and his extremist views.
”Joe Lieberman still has a chance to do the right thing,” Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, said in a statement Monday. “Pastor Hagee is a bigot and a sexist. If Joe Lieberman speaks at his conference, he is giving a seal of approval to a man who thinks it's fine to use fear and hatred to demonize Americans.”
Democracy for America and J Street, which describes itself as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace movement” group, said Monday that they had jointly collected more than 42,000 signatures for a “Don't Go Joe” online petition urging Lieberman to cancel his appearance and to sever his ties to Hagee.
”The purportedly pro-Israel views of Rev. Hagee and his supporters bear little to no resemblance to the consensus of the vast majority of American Jews, who strongly support a negotiated, two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and active engagement by the United States to facilitate it,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, in a statement.
Lieberman, a strong backer of McCain's presidential bid, has praised Hagee's support for Israel and the war against terrorism.
McCain in May rejected Hagee's months-old endorsement after an audio recording of a sermon surfaced in which the preacher said God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land. McCain at the time called the comment “crazy and unacceptable.”
McCain had actively courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television audience. (MORE)