The annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference this weekend may have taken us a step closer to war with Iran. One featured speaker was John Hagee. Hagee is a powerful evangelical leader who founded the Christians United for Israel lobby last year. Hagee is a staunch supporter of Israel; that much is clear. But he is a literal reader of the Bible who thinks Armageddon in the Middle East is a good thing, and conveniently misinterprets most of Judaism to make it a helpmate for Christianity.
Even so, AIPAC delegates may be right to conclude that Hagee is good for the Jews, but The American Prospect's Sarah Posner argues:
Whether Hagee is good for Israel is beside the point. The real problem is that he represents a catastrophe for the United States and its standing in the world -- not because he might love the Jews too much, or might in fact secretly hate them, but because the notion that Hagee -- whose status is only elevated by invitations like AIPAC's -- is leading a political movement based on nothing more than a supposedly literal reading of his Bible only reinforces the view that the United States is being led by messianic forces at odds with world peace and stability.
Hagee's speech, which compared Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Pharaoh and Hitler, went over big.
Nancy Pelosi also spoke at the AIPAC meeting, but she didn't make quite as big a splash. In fact, she was booed when she called the war in Iraq a failure. She was using a much more pragmatic rubric: "whether it makes the U.S. safer, the U.S. military stronger and the region more stable." Just moments before, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had received a standing ovation when he said that the U.S. had no choice but to win in Iraq. (By the way, Stephen Cohen has a powerful take-down of that argument in The Nation today.)
So why does this pro-Israel group need us to stay in the war in Iraq? It wants to turn up the heat on Iran. One of its priorities is to push Congress to approve tougher sanctions on Iran, which is hostile to Israel. For a rundown of the ears most primed to receive reasons to attack Iran, read this.
(AIPAC is also skeptical about candidate Barack Obama because he once told the Des Moines Register that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.")