John Hagee, a controversial pastor with a history of anti-LGBTQ comments, was a featured speaker at the March for Israel rally on Tuesday, Nov. 14, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The rally was a demonstration of solidarity with Israel amid the current Israel-Hamas War. The rally also doubled as a response to a slew of smaller pro-Palestinian rallies and protests demanding a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Addressing the March for Israel crowd of about 290,000, Hagee rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that Israel alone has the right to “determine how this war is going to be conducted and concluded.”
He also criticized those people who have sympathized with Palestinians in the conflict.
“There is no middle ground in this conflict,” Hagee said. “You’re either for the Jewish people or you’re not.”
The leader of Christians United For Israel, Hagee’s inclusion in the event raised some eyebrows, considering his past anti-LGBTQ, often controversial statements.
In 1999, Hagee claimed that God had “sent Hitler to help Jews reach the Promised Land” — a reference to how the events of the Holocaust set in motion other events that eventually led to the creation of the state of Israel.
Although the televangelist later apologized for that comment, he has become known for other controversial comments, particularly those disparaging members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women who are not subservient to men, and Catholics.
Hagee’s statements expressing disapproval of homosexuality and LGBTQ people are numerous, as noted by The Messenger.
In 2006, he blamed Hurricane Katrina and the resulting destruction and chaos “the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” for hosting the LGBTQ event Southern Decadence, which included a pride parade. He later apologized for that comment.
In 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage by striking down state-level bans on the practice, he said that the court had made the United States “the new Sodom and Gomorrah.”
He has frequently railed against same-sex marriage, saying it opens the door to incest, polygamy, and alternative marriage arrangements that are against the will of God.
More recently, he claimed that teachers’ unions are “brainwashing” children into identifying as transgender, rejecting the idea of gender identity that does not match one’s assigned sex at birth, and saying that such a concept is “demonized madness.”
Though Hagee received cheers from the crowd, his presence drew not a peep from other high-profile rally attendees, including former CNN commentators Van Jones, actress Debra Messing, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
March for Israel organizers largely remained silent when asked for comment on Hagee’s participation.
Some left-wing Jewish groups condemned Hagee’s participation, with Amy Spitalnick, the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, tweeting, “We can build broad coalitions against antisemitism and in support of the Israeli people without platforming bigots like Pastor Hagee — who promotes an apocalyptic, antisemitic worldview rooted in hate against LGBTQ, Muslim, and other communities.”
The progressive pro-Israel group J Street also blasted Hagee’s presence at the rally, calling him a “dangerous bigot” who “should not be welcomed anywhere in our community. Period.”
Freshman Congresswoman Summer Lee (D-Pa.) lamented the right-wing pastor’s inclusion, writing on X, “I’m deeply concerned that members of both parties shared a stage yesterday with noted antisemitic bigot John Hagee. This must be condemned.”
I’m deeply concerned that members of both parties shared a stage yesterday with noted antisemitic bigot John Hagee. This must be condemned. https://t.co/fUyDFmJ0hF
— Congresswoman Summer Lee (@RepSummerLee) November 15, 2023
But Lee received pushback from pro-Israel commenters.
“You aren’t a spokeswoman for the Jewish community. We will host whomever we decide to host,” wrote one X user in response to Lee.
You aren't a spokeswoman for the Jewish community. We will host whomever we decide to host.
— Yosef H (@yossy770) November 15, 2023
“You voted against Iron Dome funding for Israel. If you had won on that, it would have endangered millions of Jews in Israel by depriving Israel of a purely defensive weapon against terrorist missiles. So STFU about antisemitism,” wrote another.
You voted against Iron Dome funding for Israel. If you had won on that, it would have endangered millions of Jews in Israel by depriving Israel of a purely defensive weapon against terrorist missiles. So STFU about antisemitism.
— David Bernstein (@ProfDBernstein) November 15, 2023
“Considering you’re using his presence as a cudgel against the overwhelmingly vast majority of Jews who believe in what that rally stood for, I don’t think you’re in a position to be lecturing anyone about antisemitism,” wrote a third user. “In summation: Fuck off.”
Considering you’re using his presence as a cudgel against the overwhelmingly vast majority of Jews who believe in what that rally stood for, I don’t think you’re in a position to be lecturing anyone about antisemitism. In summation: Fuck off.
— Benjy 🇮🇱 (@schajowicz) November 15, 2023
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