Christians United for Israel (CUFI) announced in Jerusalem Sunday that the organization has reached one million members. Just six years after the its founding, CUFI has become the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, much larger in number of members than the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the lobby group.
CUFI was founded in 2006 at the initiative and leadership of Pastor John Hagee, with the objective of consolidating the political power of scores of millions of American Evangelists who support Israel. The organization, which is growing very quickly, conducts dozens of meetings every month throughout the United States and founded an annual convention in Washington. Its influence on members of Congress, mainly Republicans, is growing.
CUFI’s statement of purpose says that “the purpose of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues.” It is, in effect, a lobby that mobilized support in Congress to aggravate the sanctions against Iran; to avert American support for any attempt to declare a Palestinian state in the United Nations; and to constrain Barack Obama’s government from putting pressure on Israel. Pastor Hagee, head of the organization, announced in a speech a few months ago that Obama “is not pro-Israeli.” Hagee appeared Sunday in an event in Jerusalem in which the organization announced the registration of its millionth member; next to him stood Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who delivered a speech to the several hundreds of new members who came to visit Israel.
Hagee is a controversial figure in the US, and his public statements have gotten him into trouble in the past even among heads of the Republican party. Presidential candidate John McCain even renounced Hagee’s support due to certain comments he made about Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, that seemed to imply that Hitler was an emissary of God. At the time, Hagee claimed that his words were distorted and misinterpreted. Hagee was invited to lecture at AIPAC a few years ago, a decision that aroused a storm of sharp dispute among the Jewish leadership, but Hagee was greeted with a storm of applause.
However, the State of Israel has never hesitated to ally itself closely to Hagee and his organization. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, spoke last summer at the CUFI convention in Washington. In his office, Hagee proudly hands photographs of his many meetings with Israeli prime ministers from Menachem Begin through Netanyahu.