HARDLINE PASTOR GETS PRIME AIPAC SPOT
Growing ties between pro-Israel forces and a controversial, hardline "Christian Zionist" movement will move into the national spotlight at next week's policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby.
One keynoter at the event, which annually draws hundreds of lawmakers, administration officials, diplomats and political hopefuls, will be Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), author of several books about biblical prophecy and an opponent of new territorial concessions to the Palestinians on biblical grounds.
Rev. Hagee, who will speak at a Sunday plenary, was also a leading backer of a controversial Christian broadcast venture in Israel that critics charge sought to convert Jews.
And a time when pro-Israel forces are being accused of beating the drums for war with Iran, Rev. Hagee seems to believe such a conflict is both inevitable and necessary. In his apocalypse-oriented book "Jerusalem Countdown," he predicted a nuclear showdown with Iran and said, "The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching ... rejoice and be exceedingly glad, the best is yet to be," according to a Wall Street Journal report posted on the CUFI Web site.
Last year, Rev. Hagee told the Jerusalem Post that "I would hope the United States would join Israel in a military pre-emptive strike to take out the nuclear capability of Iran for the salvation of Western civilization."