John McCain is a practical man. When he realized he’d have to dump one problematic pastor – John Hagee – he didn’t hesitate to dump the other one too – that being Rod Parsley. It’s beyond dispute that rejecting these powerful evangelical endorsements was for McCain a political necessity. At the same time, McCain’s grounds for repudiating them are far from transparent.
Both Hagee and Parsley have made well-publicized Islamophobic declarations. That hasn’t seemed to trouble the McCain campaign. Hagee was already giving McCain trouble for defaming Catholics, but while the presidential candidate appeared willing to accommodate these extremes in that they did not force him to reject these endorsements, the final straw came with Hagee’s interpretation of chapter 16 of The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
McCain repudiated what Hagee had said by referring to it as “crazy,” but what neither McCain nor the press have any apparent interest in is wherein lay the craziness. Does McCain believe Hagee was giving a crazy interpretation to a passage in the Bible, or was he merely drawing attention to a crazy passage in the Bible? In other words, was McCain repudiating an aberration conceived by Pastor Hagee, or was he rejecting part of the Bible?
I make no claim to be a Biblical scholar and will be upfront in saying that I believe that God was created by human beings, but simply going on what the Jeremiah text says, Hagee’s interpretation does not seem particularly strange.
Even without the Christian Zionist Biblical gloss, the idea that Zionism and Nazism could operate in a complimentary fashion is not new. Indeed, it was the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who wrote, “The anti-Semites shall be our best friends.”
During World War Two in 1941 the Zionist terrorist organization, the Stern Gang, wrote to the German government and offered to “actively take part in the war on Germany’s side” in return for German support for “the establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich.” The Germans didn’t respond to the offer.
The irony in the current situation is that Hagee’s reference to Hitler carries with it an implicitly anti-Semitic undertone, whereas his vigorous support of Israel is being cited as evidence that he is not anti-Semitic. A bridge that is way too long to cross in the simplistic discourse of presidential politics is the idea that Zionism and Christian Zionism, in as much as they posit a necessity for Jews to live in Israel, are by that virtue, anti-Semitic. They suggest that being Jewish and choosing to live outside Israel is either bad for Judaism or bad for the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy.
Is there any possibility that there might be a serious debate about Zionism any time soon? Not a chance.