Lieberman Re-Hearts Hagee

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CUFILieber.jpgNo surprise, of course. Joe Lieberman showed up at Christian United for Israel’s annual Night to Honor Israel banquet, despite the 42,000-signature “Don’t Go, Joe” petition presented to him by J Street. The Hartford Courant led the paper with Jesse Hamilton’s story, and posted the senator’s prepared remarks. Therein the junior senator from Connecticut acknowledges that his host, Pastor John Hagee, said some things that got peoples’ noses out of joint and with which even he, Lieberman, could not go along. But he hastens to say that Hagee “has expressed his regrets about each of the most controversial statements he has made.” Whereupon the senator continues in his former vein of associating Hagee with Moses:

The political controversy that has swirled around Pastor Hagee reminds me of one of the unique lessons in the Bible about leadership. In Greek mythology, the leaders were flawless and virtual demi-gods. It was impossible for mere mortals to try to emulate them. The heroes of the Bible, however, are humans, great humans, but with human failings.
Even Moses fell short of God’s expectations. He made a mistake and hit the rock rather than speaking to it as God commanded. His sister, the prophetess Miriam, sinned too when she spoke badly about Moses. But this didn’t make Moses and Miriam bad people or failed leaders. Their shortcomings were only part of the larger fabric of their remarkable lives of faith and service. And that’s the way the Bible and those who read it view them.
And that’s why I would say Moses and Miriam were fortunate that they did not live in the merciless attack-counterattack political culture of our time which would undoubtedly have stressed their shortcomings and ignored their great deeds. I can only imagine what the bloggers of their day would have had to say about Moses and Miriam.

Not to get all professorial, but if Joe doesn’t think the leaders in the Greek myths were all too human, he ought to take a look at what Homer has to say about Achilles, Agamemnon, Nestor, et al. And actually we have pretty good evidence of what those biblical bloggers would have said about Moses and his family–exactly what Korah, Dathan, and Abiram said when, ignoring their great deeds, they mounted their democratic revolt against Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership:

Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?

That was the merciless attack political culture of their time. With respect to the counterattack, the Lord took care of Korah et al. in ways that Joe probably wouldn’t mind Him visiting on J Street and its 42,000 signatories. OK, I take that back.
Anyway, Lieberman has done the CUFI thing, demonstrating that however attached he is to John McCain, he’s more attached to Israel. The best line of the night, reported in the Washington Post, belonged to the man whose dabbling in endorsement politics brought down on his head his own personal holocaust of unfriendly fire. “What will I say when I’m asked to endorse a presidential candidate?” asked the good pastor rhetorically. “Never again!”

  • Ronald Kiener

    As a Connecticut resident who signed the “Don’t Go, Joe” petition, as a Connecticut voter who voted for Lieberman in 2006 (oops!), and as a Jew who belongs to an Orthodox synagogue, I finally stumbled upon some understanding in the last 72 hours as to Sen. Lieberman’s likely motivations. In general, it has been my observation that Orthodox Jews are far more willing to cozy up to the Christian evangelical pro-Israel Right (and Hagee) than their more religiously flaccid Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and secular co-religionists. (I note that both NYT columnist William Kristol and “scholar” Daniel Pipes also spoke at the CUFI event.) Orthodox Jews aren’t all that troubled by fanciful & incredible things that evangelical Christians believe about the End-time. “So what if they believe that Jews will perish after the Rapture? Rature, Shmapture. Wrong about the Messiah; wrong about the Messianic Age. Let them believe whatever they want! But at least they support Israel. So who cares what narishkeit they believe concerning the world to come, as long as they support Israel in this world right now.” But the “other” Jews don’t have the doctrinal certitude of the Orthodox, partciularly about the Messiah and the Messianic Age. What Hagee believes means something for the “other” Jews. Orthodox Jews know that Hagee is wrong, and let it slide. Liberal Jews care what Hagee believes, and can’t let it go. I’ll bet that very few of the 40,000+ petition signers were Orthodox Jews.

  • Mark Silk

    I’m inclined to agree with you, Ron. The Orthodox have their own theological barricades, so they don’t object those belonging to others. I’d only point out that Pipes is anything but Orthodox (unless he’s become a major baal tschuvah during the past decade. Kristol I’m not sure about, but certainly he doesn’t come out of Orthodoxy (cf. Kristol, Irving).