They call the only elected member of the Connecticut for Lieberman party "Holy Joe." Sen. Joe Lieberman is well-known for his faith -- specifically, his Jewish faith. After all, it was Sen. Joe who tried to out-holy Dubya in 2000, with a speech calling on Americans to "reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purposes." Atheists like myself or Buddhists who's gods aren't real (they're karmic illusions) apparently have no place in American life -- although, I suppose we could pretend to pray, just to be polite. It wasn't quite the Orwellian nightmare that Mitt Romney's "Freedom Requires Religion" speech was, but it was scary enough in its own right.
Sen. Joe's faith is a deep, deep river, flowing straight into the heart of Israel. Holy Joe is wholly Zionist. His defection from the Democratic party comes largely from his dedication to fulfilling the neocon prophecy of Israel-friendly democracies sprouting like mushrooms in the middle east. In fact, if the spores of those mushrooms have to be sown with mushroom clouds, it'd be hard to believe that Lieberman wouldn't be proud to push the big red button himself. After all, it was Joe who suggested that we attack Iran. Like most neocons, Lieberman has gotten a little ahead of himself -- there's no real evidence that Iran's enriching uranium to weaponize it and, obviously, this means that Iran doesn't actually have nuclear weapons. But I guess a stitch in time saves nine.
All of which, to the casual observer at least, makes the following story from Max Blumenthal a little hard to figure.
Senator Joseph Lieberman is scheduled to headline Pastor John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel Washington-Israel Summit this July 22. In accepting Hagee's invitation, Lieberman became the most senior elected representative confirmed to appear at the annual gala. Last year, when Lieberman spoke at Hagee's summit, he compared the Texas televangelist to the biblical prophet Moses, dubbing him "an Ish Elochim," or "a man of God." Unless he rescinds his pledge to appear at this year's summit, Lieberman can be expected to deliver another soul-stirring tribute.
He may very well rescind his pledge. Hagee, as you may remember, is the end times nutbag who had endorsed John McCain until it was revealed that Hagee thought Hitler had been sent by God and that the Holocaust was part of God's plan for the Jews.
But the weird thing is that if Joe drops the Hagee event, it'll be because of what it would look like for McCain -- who Lieberman supports -- not because Hagee's a freak. It's extremely likely that Lieberman knows all about Hagee's crazy-assed belief system. In fact, it's extremely likely that McCain has Holy Joe to thank for bringing him to Hagee. Lieberman and the end times nut are tight. John Hagee is a pro-Israel Hitler enthusiast. That may seem contradictory, but with faith, all things are possible.
If that seems a little weird to you, it is. But it's also extremely pragmatic from a Zionist viewpoint. As a Christian fundamentalist, Hagee has some pretty crazy ideas about Jews and the future of Israel. But, as a Jewish fundamentalist, Lieberman doesn't believe that crap any more than I do. Like me, Lieberman knows the "rapture" is never going to happen and, like me, he doesn't lose a lot of sleep worrying about his status as one of the "unsaved."
If it still seems weird to you that Lieberman would be so supportive of someone whose beliefs are as offensive as the Pastor's, let me boil it down to six words -- he's playing Hagee for a chump.
Hagee subscribes to a branch of Protestant theology known as "Premillenial dispensationalism," AKA among the sane as the "rapture right." These are the people who think that Tim LaHaye's Left Behind novels are practically newly discovered books of the Gospels. All of this end times stuff predicts a bunch of stuff about the Jews and Israel. Without Israel, Jesus' glorious return can't happen -- at least, not as prophesied. And God, despite being all-powerful, can't deviate from a plan one bit. I'm not really sure how you explain that one, but there ya go.
So Hagee's the leader of Christians United for Israel -- an evangelical organization that sends aid to Israel and lobbies the US on Israel's behalf. Zionists get a lot out of dispensationalists like Hagee and dispensationalists like Hagee don't want a whole lot in return. If Hagee wants to believe insane BS about Jews, Israel, Hitler, the Holocaust, etc., what does it matter? None of this rapture stuff is ever going to happen, so Hagee's just a nut who shows up on your doorstep with an armload of money and political support. Why turn him away? As far as Zionists are concerned, Hagee and American rapture nuts are useful pigeons, ripe for the plucking.
Professor of religion and Middle Eastern studies at North Park University in Chicago Donald Wagner explains dispensationalism and the phenomenon of "Christian Zionism" this way:
Briefly stated, Christian Zionism is a movement within Protestant fundamentalism that sees the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Christian Zionists work closely with the Israeli government, religious and secular Jewish Zionist organizations, and are particularly empowered during periods when the more conservative Likud Party is in control of the Knesset. Both the secular and religious media place Christian Zionism in the Protestant evangelical movement, which claims upward of 100-125 million members in the US. However, one would more accurately categorize it as part of the fundamentalist wing of Protestant Christianity, since the evangelical movement is far larger and more diverse in its theology and historical development.
Joe doesn't care about all that dispensationalist crap -- it's all the product of the southbound end of a northbound horse anyway -- all he cares about is the "political, financial and religious support" for Israel.
I suppose at this point you're wondering, "What's all this have to do with me?" To answer that, we have to dig into the very craziest ideas of the rapture happy. Timothy P. Weber, author of On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend, explains:
There is a downside to the dispensationalist/Israeli friendship. In their commitment to keep Israel strong and moving in directions prophesied by the Bible, dispensationalists are supporting some of the most dangerous elements in Israeli society. They do so because such political and religious elements seem to conform to dispensationalist beliefs about what is coming next for Israel. By lending their support -- both financial and spiritual -- to such groups, dispensationalists are helping the future they envision come to pass.
Throughout their history, dispensationalists have predicted that before the final events of the End Times can take place, the Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. According to their scenario, half way through the Great Tribulation, Antichrist will enter the restored Temple and declare himself to be God. To outsiders, such predictions always seemed farfetched. But in the Six-Day War Israel gained control of the entire city of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. Suddenly all things seemed possible, at least to some people.
The problem is that there's already something where the Temple once stood -- the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. This is one of the key holy sites in Islam. And Christian Zionists want to see it destroyed. Not surprisingly, this doesn't make Muslims real happy. The alliance between Christian Zionists like Hagee and Jewish Zionists like Lieberman is something that's making enemies of both Israel and the US in the Muslim world.
Not that either group cares. For Christian Zionists, it would clear the way for the Antichrist and, The Omen to the contrary, that'd be a good thing. Jesus doesn't show up until the AC does it first. Remember, for some reason this all-powerful deity can't reschedule things.
Dispensationalists could care less what Muslims think. After all, what they have in mind is the end of the damned world anyway. The unsaved -- Muslim, Jew, Atheist, or whomever -- are all going to burn in the end. It doesn't matter what we want or what's sane, they've got some completely unbiblical rapture to get rolling.
In fact, this explains the Evangelical hatred toward Islam. It's not about terrorism or 9/11, it's all about the Dome of the Rock. Fellow former McCain endorser Rod Parsley called Islam an "anti-christ religion" and made the jawdroppingly insane claim that the US was "founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed." After all, if the only real obstacle to tearing down the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are Muslims, then Muslims are standing in the way of the re-Jesusing of the world. Following this insane logic, Muslims are anti-christ -- despite the fact that Jesus is a prophet in Islam. Islam must be destroyed, prophesy demands it. That hard right Zionists wouldn't mind seeing this happen either is a happy coincidence.
So John McCain may disown Hagee and Parsley. Holy Joe may do what the Almighty cannot -- change his schedule and not appear at Hagee's big "Yay for Israel" event. But as much as things change on the surface, there will be no changes below it. Relations between Israel and the US are informed, in part at least, by completely mad stories of magic horsemen and trumpets played by angels.
McCain may push these guys aside on the public stage, but people like Holy Joe will see to it that they always have a place at the table in private.
Technorati tags: politics; Iran; Iraq; neocon; John McCain; elections; 2008; Republican; Rod Parsley ;Islam; religion; religious right; Zionism; Israel; Joe Lieberman and John Hagee -- BFF