Hagee-Brog Denver Postscript…
I have been called many things in my days here in Colorado, in large measure because of my criticisms of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people living under Occupation: `a self-hating Jew’, `a wild eyed radical’, `supporter of terrorists’, the usual blah, blah, blah.
But then once a local musician asked in all naivety `Are you some kind of rabbi?’ And now my status has been permanently marred by being labeled `a leader’ of Denver’s Jewish Community. Look to how far things have degenerated?
I’m not leading anyone anywhere. I’d get lost along the way anyhow. Still, I appreciate the kind words from Rabbi Haim Beliak of `Jews On First’, a website concerned with the growing Jewish ties to right wing Christian fundamentalist groups like Christians United For Israel.
Click on the above link to hear three half hour interviews — three different views of the events that transpired in Colorado after the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado invited Pastor John Hagee to keynote its annual `Men’s Dinner’ which was held last month. The Hagee invite did, as the title of the link above suggests, lead to an unprecedented rebuff and to an unanticipated crisis in the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado
Although it has been suggested that most of the opposition came from Colorado gays – Jewish or not – upset with Hagee’s anti-gay filth – the line of reasoning which suggests that somehow the anti-Hagee uproar was limited to the Gay Community is nonsense. It was much broader, almost pervasive from all quarters of Colorado’s Jewish Community and even beyond. So while acknowledging the key role of the Jewish gay group Mosaica, the opposition was on a grander scale.
Concerning the interviews…my own take, having listened to them…
They represent the views of three people whose experience in the Denver Community is quite different, which makes the three together all the more interesting. Nor do I believe our three `takes’ are unique. One could hear these views, or something close to them, expressed in any American city with a significant Jewish population.
Rabbi Field is clearly within the community itself. He tries to finesse his opposition to the Hagee visit. The main concern seems to be the proselytizing activities of Hagee’s ilk among Jews (although Hagee denies it), and how Hagee’s values clash with traditional Jewish values of social justice. Field places his concerns within the context of strong support for Israel as a Jewish state and support for the Allied Jewish Federation.
Melodye Feldman is someone with a long history of social activism, largely, but not entirely within Colorado’s Jewish Community. Founder and long time leader of `Seeking Common Ground‘, she has made e a lasting contribution to
dialogue and social justice. I don’t know that the Jewish Community of Colorado appreciates her accomplishments, indeed I doubt it. Her interview here suggests a deep malaise with the direction that mainstream Jewish organizations are headed (AIPAC, ADL, the state federations) as they lurch to the right, embracing fanatics like Hagee as their allies and dumping, rather unceremoniously their more liberal/left allies of the past. Of the three interviews, I believe hers is the most important, and speaks to deeper trends and concerns of American Jewry both in Colorado and nationwide
Rob Prince. I am satisfied with my remarks. They give an accurate, and not inflated, picture of the evolution of this mini-protest movement and here and there some insights worth considering.
Suggested order of listening…1. Melodye Feldman 2. Rabbi Brian Field 3. Rob Prince. And if an hour and half of interviews is too much, try at least to listen to Melodye’s remarks.
Three consequences seemed to have triggered `the revolt from below’.
- The choice of Hagee. He (and CUFI) represents an unacceptable alliance for many in Denver’s Jewish Community, out of bounds. Some invisible line had been crossed, taboo had been broken if not some kind of sacred bond: Again, while Hagee’s anti-gay prejudices tipped the balance – it was much more than that: it was his entire religious and political agemda , something approaching the seeds of a home grown American fascism which offended so many here in Colorado, and to which, it appears, the Allied Jewish Federation leadership was rather oblivious. My favorite reaction from those folks: `What’s wrong with John Hagee, he’s such a nice man?’ Please. For many of us, David Brog was little more than John Hagee with a yamulka.
- Almost as annoying was the Allied Jewish Federation’s attempt to defend Hagee and his record; the material the Federation sent out to counter the Hagee opposition was/is pretty pathetic, little more than an attempt to put make up on a corpse. It only add fuel to the fire. The leaflet I saw appeared to be canned stuff, likely intellectual ammunition that state federations have on hand just in case there were anti-Hagee concerns.
- Finally, the first two points led to another: the top down way that the keynote speakers are chosen for these dinners with little input for the various strains of the Colorado Jewish Community itself and what many think as the ever rightward tilt in the politics of those invited to address the dinner and that maybe those who underwrite the speakers, in the end, are more self-serving than generous
There is a broader concern: could all this be isolated to Denver or would the `revolt’ spread elsewhere. Afterall, it is not uncommon, unfortunately, for John Hagee to address state Jewish federation dinners these days.
Beyond the `who did what’…there are other, more important questions: what now for Colorado’s Jewish Community? Is there Jewish life beyond the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado? If so, what might that be? Now that he has been `disinvited’ to speak in Denver, will John Hagee’s speaking invites meet similar receptions in other US cities? Will the relations between Hagee’s Christians United For Israel and mainstream Jewish groups in the USA strengthen or weaken?
Dunno. Tune in from time to time to monitor the progress. RJP