A boost for U.S.-Is­raeli ties

Trump’s Washington ap­plauds the Chris­tian com­mit­ment to the Jewish state

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Paul Miller Paul Miller is pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the news and pub­lic policy group Haym Salomon Cen­ter.

“An uniden­ti­fied guest uses a Trump Ho­tel branded um­brella as she walks into the West Wing of the White House,” read the cap­tion of an As­so­ci­ated Press photo in the Washington Ex­am­iner pic­tur­ing an at­trac­tive young woman whose face is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly fa­mil­iar in Washington po­lit­i­cal cir­cles.

Sandy Hagee Parker is the chair­woman of Christians United for Is­rael Ac­tion Fund (CUFI), the lob­by­ing arm of the largest pro-Is­rael or­ga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. An ac­com­plished at­tor­ney, she is also the daugh­ter of Pas­tor John Hagee, founder and chair­man of the in­flu­en­tial Is­rael ad­vo­cacy group.

Ac­cord­ing to a CUFI source close to the sit­u­a­tion, Ms. Parker came to the White House with her fa­ther, as well as her mother Diana Hagee, CUFI di­rec­tor David Brog and CUFI Ac­tion Fund Washington di­rec­tor Gary Bauer.

“As part of our growing re­la­tion­ship with the ad­min­is­tra­tion, CUFI lead­er­ship met with Vice Pres­i­dent Pence and vis­ited with the pres­i­dent,” the source told the Haym Salomon Cen­ter. “The meet­ing with the vice pres­i­dent was off the record, but the prin­ci­pals dis­cussed work­ing to­gether to strengthen the U.S.-Is­rael re­la­tion­ship, and CUFI lead­er­ship re­it­er­ated the cen­tral im­por­tance of this is­sue to our near 3.5 mil­lion mem­bers.”

And it’s pre­cisely that rapidly growing mem­ber­ship that makes CUFI a unique ad­vo­cate for Is­rael that pol­i­cy­mak­ers can­not af­ford to ig­nore.

Prior to In­au­gu­ra­tion Day, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s per­spec­tive was con­sid­ered ide­al­is­tic and even ir­ra­tional. But a tec­tonic shift oc­curred on Jan. 20, and ide­al­is­tic be­came re­al­is­tic.

Un­like typ­i­cal K Street lobby groups, CUFI wields a unique brand of in­flu­ence on cam­paigns and elec­tions. In ad­di­tion to its nearly 3.5 mil­lion mem­bers, Pas­tor Hagee reaches more than 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple ev­ery week from his pul­pit and tele­vi­sion cam­eras — vot­ers who are en­er­gized, in­deed pas­sion­ate ac­tivists who be­lieve their sup­port for Is­rael is not only a moral im­per­a­tive but a re­li­gious obli­ga­tion as well.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion flexed its de­vel­op­ing mus­cle even be­fore Don­ald Trump took the oath of of­fice.

Upon re­turn­ing from Christ­mas break, the word around Washington was that Pres­i­dent Obama had one last move against Is­rael at the U.N.

With lit­er­ally only a few days’ no­tice, CUFI or­ga­nized over 250 Chris­tian lead­ers from across the coun­try to come to Washington where they met with se­na­tors from 49 states (Ver­mont the ex­cep­tion) to ex­press their alarm over the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s be­trayal of Is­rael and to pro­mote the fol­low­ing agenda:

• Use U.S. lever­age to end Is­rael-bash­ing at the U.N.

• Sup­port mov­ing the Amer­i­can em­bassy to Jerusalem.

• Con­firm David Fried­man, Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s choice to be U.S. am­bas­sador to Is­rael.

Here we are, a few months later, and Mr. Fried­man is am­bas­sador to Is­rael; U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley has chan­neled her in­ner Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han and at­tacked anti-Is­rael bias at the world body with vigor; and for the first time ever, there is se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion be­ing given to mov­ing the em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has also taken its ef­forts to state capi­tols, com­bat­ing the anti-Is­rael Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment by ad­vo­cat­ing for leg­is­la­tion that pro­hibits states from do­ing busi­ness with or in­vest­ing in or­ga­ni­za­tions that dis­crim­i­nate against the Jewish state. By the end of 2017, ex­pect over half the union to have adopted anti-BDS leg­is­la­tion.

In what can be de­scribed as a Holy Week mir­a­cle, CUFI Ac­tion Fund sup­ported an amicus brief ask­ing the Supreme Court to re­view Sokolow v. Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Eleven fam­i­lies of Pales­tinian ter­ror­ism vic­tims won their law­suit, which was sub­se­quently thrown out by the 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals. The friend-of-the-court re­quest was signed by a bi­par­ti­san group of se­na­tors that in­cluded El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, Ted Cruz, Texas Repub­li­can, Richard Blu­men­thal, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, Or­rin Hatch, Utah Repub­li­can, Chuck Schumer, New York Demo­crat, and Marco Ru­bio, Florida Repub­li­can.

As a Chris­tian or­ga­ni­za­tion, CUFI’s per­spec­tive sets it apart from other pro-Is­rael groups. Ja­son Stverak, CUFI Ac­tion Fund’s leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor, is a for­mer head of the North Dakota Repub­li­can Party. Mr. Stverak’s po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence cou­pled with his Chris­tian per­spec­tive is a com­bi­na­tion that most mem­bers of Congress can re­late to.

Un­like the sta­tus quo in Washington, CUFI doesn’t con­cern it­self with Is­rael’s in­ter­nal politics. Pas­tor Hagee told the Haym Salomon Cen­ter in Oc­to­ber 2015, “We will sup­port who­ever the Is­raeli peo­ple elect to be their prime min­is­ter. We are be­hind Is­rael and the Jewish peo­ple. We also don’t live in Is­rael, we don’t have to deal with rock­ets rain­ing down from Gaza or at­tacks from the West Bank. Amer­ica can­not dic­tate how Is­rael pro­tects it­self.”

Un­der dis­cus­sion on Capi­tol Hill is the call for the United States to cut fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the Pales­tinian Author­ity (PA) if it con­tin­ues to en­cour­age ter­ror­ism and pro­vide stipends to ter­ror­ists and their fam­i­lies. The Tay­lor Force Act is leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing that the PA “take cred­i­ble steps to end acts of vi­o­lence against United States and Is­raeli cit­i­zens” and “pub­licly con­demn such acts of vi­o­lence.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion scoffed at the leg­is­la­tion. But with CUFI’s in­flu­ence on Capi­tol Hill and at the bal­lot box only growing stronger, I ex­pect de­cency to pre­vail and Mr. Trump to sign the Tay­lor Force Act by the end of the year.

Un­der dis­cus­sion on Capi­tol Hill is the call for the United States to cut fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the Pales­tinian Author­ity (PA) if it con­tin­ues to en­cour­age ter­ror­ism.


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