Paul R. Pillar
Current events are exhibiting not only a corruption of policy by injecting religion but also a corruption of religion, or of religious values, by subordinating those values to certain policy objectives.
The most jarring takeaway from the ceremony redesignating a U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem as an embassy was the juxtaposition of the self-congratulatory speech making with the killing on the same day, by Israeli forces forty miles away, of sixty people and the injuring of 2,400 more as Palestinian Arabs protested their confinement to the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip. Also jarring, however, was participation in the ceremony by two American preachers. The first was Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor from Dallas, has said that Jewish people who remain Jews and do not convert to Christianity will go to hell. Jeffress is an equal opportunity bigot who does not pick only on Jews. He has said that “religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism…lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” The other Texas preacher who was given a speaking role in the ceremony—televangelist John Hagee—has said that according to the Bible, Hitler and the Holocaust were part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel.
The ceremony was at a U.S. diplomatic installation, and presumably the Trump administration put together the program. Perhaps many Israelis are unaware of what Jeffress and Hagee have preached apart from the prayers they were permitted to offer at the ceremony. But other Jewish Israelis surely were aware; one wonders what they were thinking when Hagee and Jeffress appeared at the podium.