Christians United for Israel
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is an American pro-Israel Christian organization that defines itself as "a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel." It is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States.
CUFI says it draws support from the Christian Bible. Operating under the leadership of John Hagee, it provides a national association through which churches, parachurch organizations, ministries, and individuals in America promote support for Israel financially and politically.
In February 2006, John Hagee revived a movement focused on the support of Israel. He called upon Christian leaders in America to join him in launching his new initiative. Over 400 leaders, each representing a denomination, mega-church, media ministry, publishing company, or Christian university voiced support and Christians United for Israel was created.
Legally incorporated on February 7, 2006, and operated out of Hagee's hometown of San Antonio, Texas, CUFI is focused on communicating the perceived need for closer links between Christian ministries in America and the state of Israel.
The first college chapter of Christians United for Israel was established at California State University, Bakersfield, with more "CUFI on Campus" chapters planned. At the 2011 CUFI Washington Summit, it was reported that "CUFI on Campus" chapters had been formed or were in the process of being formed on over 75 college campuses and CUFI was reported to have a presence on 225 campuses.
"Christians United for Israel" was originally formed in 1992 by David Lewis. After a period of inactivity, Hagee sought and received permission from Lewis to use the title for his own organization.
In March 2012, the organization celebrated its membership passing the one-million mark, a milestone that cements CUFI's place as the largest US-based pro-Israel organization.
- "To educate and build Christian support for Israel throughout America": CUFI seeks to rally evangelical Christians in support of Israel for biblical and moral reasons. CUFI pursues this goal through the distribution of literature, DVDs, Middle East Briefings, and holding annual Nights to Honor Israel in communities throughout the country.
A Night to Honor Israel
CUFI host "Nights to Honor Israel" events in cities across the United States. The events have the stated aim of expressing "Christian solidarity with the State of Israel and the Jewish people". Such "Night to Honor Israel" events have often sought to include members of local Jewish communities. In fact, any funds raised are often given to the local Jewish federations to assist with efforts in Israel. One such "Night to Honor Israel" event was covered by Minnesota magazine TC Jewfolk in 2010.
CUFI holds an annual summit to enable delegates to personally speak with their representatives on behalf of Israel. In response to particular current events, CUFI also mobilizes its members through Rapid Response Alerts to raise popular support for Israel and lobby the U.S. Congress in support of Israel.
National Night to Honor Israel 2008, 2009, 2010
On July 22 CUFI held their 2008 National Night to Honor Israel. Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Pastor John Hagee and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) spoke with live music interludes. Senator Lieberman opened his speech by saying "I am your brother Joseph." In his speech Lieberman re-affirmed his support for CUFI, Israel and Pastor Hagee. In addition Hagee cleared up some myths regarding his beliefs on Israel. The attendance, which many thought would be down from previous years, exceeded all expectations. With the Washington DC Convention Center packed from front to back without an open seat in sight attendees waved American and Israeli flags in support for CUFI, America and the State of Israel. For the first time CUFI hosted several prominent Catholic leaders in a show of unity between Pastor Hagee and the Catholic Church. Father Roger Hunter-Hall spoke and praised CUFI and Pastor Hagee. Pastor Hagee said when the fabricated statements regarding his beliefs on the Catholic Church surfaced he did something that the media wasn't expecting, they acted like Christians. Hagee and the head of the Catholic League met and quickly realized they were being pitted against each other by their enemies for political gain. CUFI held an annual Washington Summit July 20–23, 2009. The most recent CUFI annual Washington Summit took place on July 20–22, 2010. Israeli PM Netanyahu addressed the gathering by videoconference.
Support for Jewish People
CUFI states that during the Holocaust, too many Christians were silent and that today's Christians have an obligation to help protect Israel's 6 million Jews from a second Holocaust, concluding that: "We must get it right this time. Our faith demands it. The times require it. Silence is not an option."
At CUFI's 4th annual convention, CUFI Florida state director Scott Thomas, who is senior pastor at Without Walls Central in Lakeland, Florida, states that CUFI's support of Israel is not related to Christian eschatology (one of the features of dispensationalism, which holds that the modern state of Israel has a central role in bringing about the second coming of Jesus Christ) since Christians believe that there is nothing they can do to speed up that process. Thomas also cited Chapter 12 of Book of Genesis, which states that God will bless those who bless the Jews and curses those who curse the Jews, and said that his Christian faith couldn't exist without the foundation of Judaism.
Opposition to Hamas
In November 2012, the group filed a petition calling for Twitter and the US government to "ban Hamas from Twitter." CUFI makes the point that the Palestinian group currently in charge of the Gaza Strip is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States' government, and federal law prohibits providing "material support to such groups. The group says that "when it comes to Israel's military campaign, there is little that we here in America can do to help. But when it comes to this second conflict - the so-called 'twitter war' - there is something important we can do."
Support for Israel against Iran
On its website, CUFI states that:
- There is a new Hitler in the Middle East -- President Ahmadinejad of Iran -- who has threatened to wipe out Israel and America and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear technology to make good on his threat. If we learned anything from the Holocaust, it is that when a madman threatens genocide we must take him seriously.
Criticism of Obama
At a CUFI gathering in Washington, Hagee said, "President Obama is not pro-Israel."
"Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban," Hagee said.
Criticism from Jews
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who has publicly disagreed with Hagee, wanted Jews to stop cooperating with CUFI, because Yoffie felt CUFI had an unacceptable political agenda. Hagee replied that his support for Israel was not conditioned on Israel's policies, and he would support the Israeli government unconditionally.
- Pastor John C. Hagee, Founder and National Chairman, CUFI
- Gary Bauer, President, American Values
- David Brog, Executive Director, CUFI
- Shari Dollinger Magnus, Associate Director, CUFI
- Bishop Keith A Butler, Founder and Pastor, Word of Faith International Christian Center
- Pastors Mac & Lynne Hammond, Senior Pastors, Living Word Christian Center
- Michael Little, President and Chief Operating Officer, The Christian Broadcasting Network
- Pastor George Morrison, Senior Pastor, Faith Bible Chapel
Prior to his death in 2007, Rev. Jerry Falwell sat on the Executive Board. In early 2008, he was replaced in his seat by his son, Jonathan Falwell.
- Christian Zionism
- Anglican Friends of Israel
- Israel lobby in the United States
- John Hagee
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- "Christians United for Israel, "Advocacy,"". Retrieved 23 May 2008.
- "Onward, Christian Zionists", Jennifer Rubin, August 2, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 43, Weekly Standard.
- "The Bible commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), to speak out for Zion’s sake (Isaiah 62:1), to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6) and to bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3). These and so many other verses of the Bible have one overriding message: as Christians we have a Biblical obligation to defend Israel and the Jewish people." "Christians United for Israel (main page)". Retrieved 23 March 2008.
- Christians United for Israel: Christians United for Israel
- Michael Lando (May 14, 2007). "Christians to train in Israel advocacy,". Jerusalem Post,. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
- Winchester, John (7-17-11). Establishing A CUFI Chapter on Your Campus (Speech). CUFI on Campus Student Advocacy Day. Washington, D.C..
- E-mail conversation with Roy Casanova, Staff Assistant, CUFI, April 24, 2008: "Greetings in Christ Jesus, Dear Mr. xxxxxx, You are correct. There was a similar group of the same name started in further back than 1992. Pastor Hagee conferred with Pastor David Lewis who held the original name. Pastor Lewis did not further his efforts using the name Christians United For Israel and allowed Pastor Hagee to take the name and supports the current CUFI. Thank you for your interest in Christians United For Israel. Blessings, Roy Casanova, Staff Assistant, Christians United For Israel, P.O. Box 1307, San Antonio, Texas 78295, www.cufi.org
- Hillary Zaken (18 March 2012). "Evangelical group to welcome millionth Israel supporter". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- "Christians United for Israel has hundreds of Nights to Honor Israel in cities across America". Christians United for Israel. 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- Jenna Mitelman. "A Jewish Girl Walks Into a Church -- a Jewish view of a "Night to Honor Israel"". TC Jewfolk. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- Ibid. 2
- Christian Zionist parley: Don’t pressure Israel by Eric Fingerhut, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), July 23, 2009.
- http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/11/20121124104049698281.html Calls mount to ban Hamas from Twitter
- Ibid. 2
- Hagee’s Christians United for Israel CUFI) reaches One Million Members, By SHMUEL ROSNER, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Reprinted in CUFI in Action, March 2012
- Bibi: Christian Zionists our top friends, Etgar Lefkovits, Jerusalem Post, 26/11/2012
- CUFI official website http://www.cufi.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_executive_board