The Rev. John Hagee wrote the foreword to your book. He assured people
last week that there would be no proselytizing or missionizing
associated with his organization, Christians United for Israel. Do you
believe he is sincere?
David Brog: I
do believe that he is sincere. He has believed as a core principle for
over 25 years that his work should not lead to any efforts at
converting Jews. When he first tried to organize Christians for support
of Israel 25 years ago, he met with uniform resistance from Christian
pastors on this issue. When he spoke recently to several hundred
Christian pastors in San Antonio Texas in an effort to enlist their
support for Israel, all of them agreed to refrain from using these
activities as a means of converting Jews.
work now for Hagee as the executive director of Christians United for
Israel. It’s interesting that a nice Jewish kid like me would take such
a position. But that is because I do believe he and his people are
When I speak to groups within our
organization I review with them 2,000 years of anti-Semitism. I want
them to understand why Jews are suspicious of their motives. Most Jews
don’t realize that these people that I deal with have no heritage of
anti-Semitism. Christians are hearing the message. The people I work
with are the least likely to try to convert Jews.
JS: You write that Christians who follow the dispensationalist theology are most likely to support Zionism. Why is that?
The best way to explain this is to look at how Christians interpret the
biblical concept of "Israel." Traditionally the church preached that it
was true "Israel," that it replaced the Jews. Dispensationalists on the
other hand believe that "Israel" is still the Jews.
their worldview, the biblical book of Genesis remains a Zionist
document. The Bible is a philo-Semitic document. The verse in Genesis
12:3 is central to this thinking. God says he will bless those who
bless Israel and curse those who curse them. This is a constant refrain
in the faith systems of the Christian Zionists.
You say that some powerful world leaders such as Balfour, Wilson, and
Truman supported Israel as a matter of faith. Do you have solid
evidence for that?
I’m sure their faith was a contributing factor. Take the case of
Truman, who immediately recognized the State of Israel when it was
declared. Conventional wisdom has it that he did this for political
reasons — for the Jewish vote. Clark Clifford, however, describes how
Truman kept a famous memo in his top drawer. It declared that
supporting Zionism was a neutral factor in attracting the Jewish vote.
Hence it said that Truman should play down ethnic appeals and focus on
social issues in general. In the election, Truman lost the three
biggest Jewish states.
of State [George] Marshall advised Truman not to recognize Israel, yet
he went ahead. Truman cried several times in public when speaking about
his recognition of Israel. So yes, it was close to his faith.
Abe Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League,
disagrees with you. He is suspicious of the Christian Zionists. What
makes you think he is wrong?
The greatest threats to the Jews today are related to the existential
dangers to the State of Israel and to the dangers associated with the
war on terror. I sense that Foxman’s rhetoric exaggerates Christian
aims. He is too rigid on what the First Amendment means. Supreme Court
decisions on this are all over the map, not as simple as Foxman
Many Jews have a knee-jerk reaction against anything that is supported
by the likes of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. Yet you say they are
staunch Christian Zionists. How do you rationalize that liberals ought
to work with them?
I spent seven and a half years on Capitol Hill and saw coalitions come
and go. We need to agree and work with them on one issue. We can
disagree with them on other issues. If you ask me whether there are
some coalition partners that are not acceptable, I would say sure there
are. But these folks are acceptable and we ought to have respect for
them. We ought to have open minds. Christian conservatives are
thoughtful people of good faith. We should partner with them in support
of our aims.
Do you find that the Christian Zionists understand the dramatic impact
of the suffering of the Holocaust and the salvation of modern Israel?
No people understand the cosmic implications of the Holocaust better
than the Christians who support Israel. To them the Holocaust
represents the evil that humans are capable of. If you ask me, they are
the most sensitive about such attacks as the recent threats made by the
Iranian leader to wipe Israel off the map. They understand it best and
reject it most clearly.
JS: Is the Rev. Hagee in this fight for the long haul?
Yes. Hagee has a burning mission. He works 24 by 7 for Israel. In a way
it reminds me of the kind of dedication that people attributed to
Herzl. After the Dreyfus trial he was utterly dedicated to his mission
— so much so that he literally worked himself to death. Hagee is in
this struggle to build a sustained constituency for a broad agenda of
JS: Is George Bush a Christian Zionist?
Bush is a Christian Zionist in the same way that Truman and Balfour
were. He does not overtly phrase his support of Israel in Zionist
terms. He does resort to a kind of biblical rhetoric about the powers
of good and of evil. You can see from his decisions that his faith is a
factor in his policy-making. As our Christian members say, when they
push the White House on their agendas, it is like pushing on an
JS: In light of recent events in Israel, what kind of impact do you expect Christian Zionists to have on public policy?
At our recent D.C. summit on July 18 and 19, we filled the D.C. Hilton
with 3,500 attendees. We achieved this level of support after six
months of organized activity. Remember that it took the AIPAC
organization 50 years to reach their current level — and they draw just
2,000 attendees at their summits.
the critical juncture of the beginning of the Lebanon conflict, which
coincided with our summit, we sent our members up the hill to talk to
Congress. They told their representatives that the U.S. should let
Israel fight. Let Israel defend itself. I believe this lobbying by
Christians on behalf of Israel had a real impact. In the future this
support can help to influence and sway debates on key issues.
activities also influence the rhetoric of public issues. Rick Santorum
and others spoke at our summit about the evils of Islamo-fascism. A few
days later President Bush started talking forcefully using these terms.
I am sure there is an influence.