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Letter to the Editor: We Need to Work with CUFI

For the past few years, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and other members of the Jewish Community of Louisville have participated as invited speakers and honored guests of the “Night to Honor Israel,” an annual program put together and sponsored by the group Christians United for Israel, otherwise known as CUFI.

Every year, the members of the JCRC debate over whether it is appropriate to promote the event sponsored by CUFI due to its association with Pastor John Hagee, and the evangelical movement.  Every year, the arguments in favor of our continued association win, as we discuss why it is appropriate for the Jewish Community of Louisville, and the JCRC, to participate in the event as spectators and speakers.

First, we address the fact that the JCRC’s purpose is to interact with the non-Jewish community and present the Jewish voice. To that end the JCRC reaches out to many organizations that are not Zionist, and some of which may even be anti-Zionist, because we find that there is generally at least some shared interest on some local social action issue, whether it is pay day loans, religion in the public schools, or other matters, too many to list.

In all of our interactions with other organizations we strive to explain our positions and try to understand theirs.

We even sit at the table with organizations that actively advocate divestiture from Israel. Thus to cut off one organization because some part of its message or one or more of its messengers do not match our mission, would not be in keeping with this effort. (However, we do distance ourselves from single message organizations, where the message is against our mission.)

Second, we are reminded that CUFI does not represent the entire evangelical movement. It is but a small segment of the evangelical church, and it is not appropriate for us to link all evangelicals together and condemn them all.

In our interactions with CUFI, CUFI reminds us, as well as their own constituents, and the rest of the world that CUFI is not interested in converting Jews. CUFI acknowledges a faith-based love of Jews and the State of Israel.
Many CUFI pastors and members travel to Israel and invest in Israel. They have stood by Israel while many others have not.

CUFI is a one mission only organization: Support Israel and let its democratically elected government decide for all Israelis what is in Israel’s own best interest … without any interference from any foreign governments including the United States.

Third, in regard to concerns about the association with Pastor Hagee, it must be noted that John Hagee Ministries has given many millions to Israel, including more than $8.5 million to bring Soviet Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel.

In regard to his remarks that have been taken as anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-Arab, etc., Pastor Hagee has issued numerous apologies, including the apology to the Catholic League in 2008, to which the Catholic League’s President stated, “Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology.”

“What Hagee has done takes courage, and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns. But he has done just that. Now Catholics, along with Jews, can work with Pastor Hagee in making interfaith relations stronger than ever. Whatever problems we had before are now history.”

Finally, our parent national organizations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) continue to work with CUFI and support its mission. The JCRC and the JCL will continue to monitor its association with CUFI as it monitors its association with any other organization.

However, we anticipate that in the future we will continue to participate in the very worthily titled CUFI sponsored annual event “A Night to Honor Israel,” and we hope that more members of our community feel comfortable joining in.

Leon Wahba, Chair
Ayala Golding, Chair-Elect
Jewish Community Relations Council
Jewish Community of Louisville

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