Just days before Pesach, Jewish Israel posted a video of Pastor John Hagee hailing Jesus from the rooftop of Aish HaTorah’s World Center, overlooking the Kotel and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The video was filmed when Pastor Hagee was in Israel for his ministry's March 2012 tour.
We then published a follow-up report after we spoke to Aish administration staff members at their Jerusalem center. John Hagee Ministries has since removed that video from their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Jewish Israel was pleased to see Mark Paredes, a Gentile journalist for the Jewish Journal of LA, offer a response in his weekly column, "Jews and Mormons", which took Jewish sensibilities into consideration. Paredes felt that the video was "both insensitive and inappropriate".
In addition, Brad A. Greenberg of the Jewish Journal's "God Blog" seemed to feel the incident underscores "Hagee’s theological beliefs and his impetus for supporting Israel as a Jewish state".
Meanwhile, Yisrael Medad of My Right Word suggested that Jewish Israel had been "unfair" to Pastor Hagee. Dr. Mike Cohen, who serves as Rabbi Riskin's "traveling scholar" for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation’s (CJCUC), chimed in with an extensive talkback under Medad's blog post.
We've included Mike's comment in full on this page, followed by our response to him below:
Dr. Mike Cohen said...
Shavua Tov All,
I wish I had the time to write a complete and comprehensive response, fortunately or unfortunately, between miluim, hosting groups and preparing for chag I can only but say a few words in support of Reb Yisrael.
Having just returned from six intensive weeks of activity on behalf of Torah and Tzion among friend and foe alike I have never been more sure that activity among the nations by tried and true, strong Torah Jews who are part of the hityashvut is necessary at critical levels as never before. We met modern Amalek face on hand in hand and won the day for Israel. We met real evil masquerading as friend and even as false Jew hand in hand and because we were there - many, many, many good people were saved from being fooled and supporting darkness.
Rashi's brilliant explanation of the kfilut in "Vehabor rek ein bo mayim" never meant so much to me as it did during this trip. We have a decision to make my friends - we can be at the bor and warn against the nachashim and akrabim, we can be IN the bor and clean it out by killing them ourselves, or we can let people who are willing and able to be true friends of Israel, in their own way, word and deed fall into it and perish in agonizing ways.
I choose a combination of options one and two. If we don't work together to clear the bor - the snakes and scorpions will win the day. If we are there to warn and eradicate - Israel will go on to win in ways we have yet to imagine.
Let Christians be Christians - and help Jews be Jews. Let’s teach all to be ardent Zionists and supporters of G-d's Land and His people.
To Ellen and JI - there are REAL dangers lurking out there. There are REAL haters pretending to be lovers. Why not let alone those of us who know enough to be able to work hard to tell them apart from each other and take on a real challenge - join with us to learn about and fight against the real enemy not the perceived ones like Pastor Hagee or true Torah Jew like Reb Yisrael who is fighting for us all.
If only we had hundreds or even only dozens more true Jewish warriors for Torah and Yisrael like Reb Yisrael - our world would be a much better place.
Koach Lechai Reb Yisrael! Don't let the fear mongers keep you down!
Chag Kasher VeSameach,
Jewish Israel responds…
Pesach puts us all on a spiritual high, but we shouldn't lose our grounding. So please come down to earth.
You are currently working for a rabbi who has overturned his own renowned Rav's (Soloveitchik's) widely held halacha on interfaith matters. You have actively partnered and worked with those who have supported ventures and the development of tools which are used to dupe and convert Jews to Christianity. You publicized a video of yourself singing Jesus-centered hymns with leaders and members of a highly controversial church. You boast about how you, as a Cohen, regularly give the Aaronic Blessing to Christian pastors – a blessing which is meant for the Jewish nation. And you stood in front of a messianic congregation and declared that "the USA is really in the center of Jerusalem". BTW that video clip of you and other Torah observant activists is now being used to promote jesus as the messiah. You promoted a puppet show of CUFI Kids learning to say the Shema, but that's not very impressive (and perhaps misleading) Mike when you consider that those words are already in the new testament and that the very same pastor puppeteer teaches those same Cornerstone church children to, "raise your hands and surrender to jesus. Jesus is king and lord."
Jewish and Gentile supporters of Israel found pastor Hagee's actions on the rooftop of Aish to be highly inappropriate. In the words of Mormon columnist Mark Paredes of the Jewish Journal of LA:
"I think that the pastor’s video was both insensitive and inappropriate…I have also written in this space that Jews should accept Evangelical support for Israel even if they suspect their motives for doing so. Interfaith relations have to be based on common decency and fairness, and I think that in this case the good pastor abused the trust of his hosts…it was highly inappropriate for Pastor Hagee to preach of every knee bowing to Jesus while standing atop Aish’s building. I would of course feel differently if he had asked permission from Aish to make the video, but it’s highly unlikely that Aish would have approved such a request…"
There is not a member of the Jewish Israel board who does not actively work to ensure the spiritual and physical integrity of Eretz Yisrael. We are also working to unite Am Yisrael, and it seems that a demand for Jewish continuity, concerns about spiritual assimilation, and an aversion to idolatry remain common denominators which unite a wide spectrum of our people.
Yisrael Medad knows very well which side of the fence this writer and the rest of the Jewish Israel staff stands on. His personal endorsement is prominently featured on the back cover of this writer's book concerning the Oslo years, "…her insights are right on target and her prose is assuring in its commitment to truth, logic and rationality…". Yisrael may vehemently disagree with Jewish Israel's approach and direction vis a vis the evangelical-Israel relationship, but I think he knows that we remain guided by Jewish principles and foundations and committed to truth, logic and rationality.
Moadim l'Simcha to all.