Justin Elliott of the MoJo Blog was miffed yesterday when Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, the American Jewish Committee’s director of interreligious affairs, declined to condemn the sermon in which the Rev. John Hagee called Hitler a “hunter” whose task was to drive Jews to Palestine. Elliott’s query began last week when he set out to see whether leading Jewish organizations would speak against Hagee, whose organization Christians United for Israel has a lot of political pull.
The short answer is no. I submitted requests for comment about Hagee and his sermon to three organizations: the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The first two groups closely monitor anti-Semitism and regularly issue statements decrying insensitivity to Jews by prominent figures like Hagee. As for AIPAC, Hagee had a prominent speaking role at its annual policy conference last year. And David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, the organization of which Hagee is founder and national chairman, is slated to speak at AIPAC’s 2008 policy conference next month.
Hagee’s various anti-Semitic statements have actually been known for several years, as Max Blumenthal has reported. But given that the pastor’s “Hitler was a hunter” tour de force is making national headlines and drawing criticism from a presumptive presidential nominee (and even some leaders in the Reform community), this seems like a perfect time for the ADL, AJC, and AIPAC to denounce Hagee, or, at the very least, his comments. The ADL and AIPAC, to my knowledge, have not commented on Hagee’s sermon and they didn’t respond to my requests.
Some Jewish organizations, in fact, have rushed to Hagee’s side. But he’s caused alarm before, and the entire community has not been quiet this time around. I received this open letter to Hagee last week from Rabbi David Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.