Last week, Pastor John Hagee used the rooftop of one of the most respected Torah institutions in the world, which overlooks the Kotel and Har Habayit, to declare that jesus is lord and king and to assert that "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess"that belief.
A video titled Pastor John Hagee at the Wailing Wall is being featured on Hagee Ministries' You Tube Channel and Facebook page. [UPDATE, 2012/03/29: The original video on the ministry's YouTube channel has recently been removed.]
Jewish Israel contacted the administration of the Aish HaTorah World Center at the Kotel and asked if they were aware that Pastor Hagee had visited their center and was filmed proclaiming the gospel from their roof. Shira Plotkin, Private Events Coordinator, spoke with me and confirmed that Hagee had indeed been at Aish. Jewish Israel remained on the phone as Ms. Plotkin and Mordechai David, Director of Operations for the Aish World Center, viewed the video. This writer was asked to give Aish some time to formulate a response before releasing a report.
About an hour after the initial phone conversation, Jewish Israel was called by Yossi Lapko, who introduced himself as the personal assistant to Rabbi Yehuda Weinberg, the COO of Aish Jerusalem. Mr. Lapko told Jewish Israelthat Aish can't take responsibility for what is said or done on their rooftop and that they have no control over tourists or guests. Lapko confirmed that he is fully aware of the fact that Hagee is a celebrated mega pastor and that he was aware of Hagee's visit to Aish last week. However, Mr. Lapko claims it was not a pre-planned visit with a film crew or entourage. Lapko reiterated that the Aish building is frequented by many visitors.
Mr. Lapko did feel that the content of the video was terrible and he said he would have stopped it had he known what was being said, but he clearly wanted to underplay the incident - referring to it as, "like spilt milk". Jewish Israelwas also told that Aish has no plans to change their visitation policy at this time or to caution guests to respect the nature and location of their site. Lapko also seemed opposed to having any type of supervision on the roof.
Taking liberties with religious freedom
One may wonder why Pastor John Hagee felt so emboldened to take such liberties at the site of a renowned Torah institution in Eretz Yisrael. Jewish Israel feels that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had a hand in offering Pastor Hagee a carte blancheopportunity to test his unlimited religious freedom in the Jewish State.
Just a day before the gospel went forth from the rooftop of Aish, Mayor Barkat held hands with Pastor Hagee and pledged to enable evangelicals to "come and practice your faith freely like never before here in the city of Jerusalem".
And just days before that, on March 18th, Prime Minister Netanyahu took a politically expedient moment to play the religious freedom card as he spoke to a CUFI crowd in Hagee's presence, saying that he was “proud that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith in complete freedom.”
It seems freedom to worship just isn't good enough anymore - it has to be "complete". And to the evangelical that means the right to shout the gospel from the rooftops of Jerusalem. It seems Hagee was testing the waters a bit and reveling in his new found freedom.
Brog has egg on his face
The Jerusalem Post interviewed CUFI's Executive Director David Brogthe night Netanyahu spoke and reported the following:
Brog also sought to dispel concerns about negative theological motivations attributed by some to the Evangelical movement. He labeled the claim that Evangelicals support Israel in order to herald the return of Jesus and the conversion of Jews as “complete and utter nonsense,” and said such claims were based on “ignorance.”
Brog may want to wipe the egg off of his face and come clean, because Hagee is no fiddler on the roof and it's now clear, for all to see and hear, that Israel's favorite pastor is zealously driven by his desire to see humanity "lining up down Ben Yehuda Street to bow before the carpenter's son." As Hagee states in his Aish rooftop video:
"On planet earth there is no more important piece of real estate than where I'm standing right now…there is no question that this is where the temple of the lord jesus christ will be when he rules and reigns the earth from the city of Jerusalem for a thousand years…and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that jesus is lord...".
There are a number of reasons why Christians support Israel, but to underestimate or dismiss Jewish concerns, or the importance of the evangelizing and eschatological agendas for Hagee, is simply misleading on Brog's part.
In the last month we have seen purported Christian friends of Israel involved in the repeated desecration of Torah scrolls, schedule a Passion Play at the Kotel's Davidson Center, and now crown their deity as king over Jerusalem, from the Old City rooftop of Aish HaTorah, overlooking the Temple Mount.
Jewish Israel has the greatest respect for Aish HaTorah and its institutions, but if this chillul Hashem is part of the cost involved when we Jews embolden evangelical designs by accepting vast amounts of their love and support, then perhaps it's time to say "no thank you"and for Jewish leaders to call for a complete reevaluation and reassessment of this relationship.
The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles posted on Jewish Israel's reportof Pastor Hagee's use of the AishHaTorah rooftop. You can read their two posts on the subject at the following links: