Christians United For Israel jumps to the forefront of pro-Israel groups

Yet another tenuous cease-fire with Hamas is hanging on by a thread and may be broken by the time this is published. Through the plumes of smoke, Jerusalem now sees a very different political landscape. Virulent mass anti-Israel marches roil through the world's capitals — in some cases, with tens of thousands of angry protestors. War crime proceedings are now openly threatened by official bodies, even though they are based on confused conflations of international law uttered with the blindfold of Lady Justice pulled down over one eye only. The worldwide media establishment is now captive to its own inability to proffer balanced questions of Hamas's representatives even as Israeli spokesmen are continuously pressed for impossible answers. Even the White House has joined the chorus of those who find moral equivalency in the conflict, treating Hamas as though it were Lech Walesa's Polish Solidarity.

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Israel is looking high and low for friends, especially those with a connection to Congress. It has found them — not just in its traditional reservoir of support in the American Jewish community, but also in Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which has now been propelled to the front row of pro-Israel organizations.

The opening salvo of wartime support was seen at the group's Washington Summit, held late last month on July 21. At the very moment when the Jewish state was under the first of a series of crushing waves of global criticism for its involvement in Operation Protective Edge, CUFI roused its American heartland membership in loud, rollicking support of Israel. That night, firebrand evangelist Pastor John Hagee led some 4,800 foot-stomping, shofar-blowing Christian delegates, who had traveled from across the nation and from overseas, to witness a procession of grand podium speeches backed up by floor-to-ceiling video effects, syncopated Israeli music and incisive info sessions. Part tent revival and part political shout, CUFI's Washington Summit is patterned after the mega-gatherings staged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the very same hall. At a time when the fog and dust storms of war make it hard for some to discern the good guys from the bad guys, CUFI speakers brought clarity and context to its attendees.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time, via taped message, to thank the evangelical crowd for standing by Israel during its hourglass of need. He spoke from Israel, bunkered in a secure room. To thunderous applause, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) exhorted the Israelis in their Gaza strategy to "go as far as you need to go, and do what you've got to do."

The Convention Center conclave was more than lip service. The next day, CUFI's membership swarmed the halls of Congress to lobby their representatives from the heartland to stop funding the Palestinian National Authority until it ceases paying terrorist salaries and to stand with Israel in its fight against Hamas.

Days later, CUFI spent a small fortune in a national, multi-platform advertising campaign, purchasing full-page ads "about the true nature of Hamas." Aimed at constituents in key districts, the full-page ads ran in volleys that appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Denver Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Arizona Republic, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. Display ads were also purchased at top news, analysis and Christian websites, including Fox News, the Christian Post, Beliefnet, the Blaze and the Drudge Report. Email blasts to the group's 1.8 million members backed up the ad campaign.

Those ads, in large type, quoted from the Hamas Charter, starting with the document's first syllables that vow destruction of the Jewish state: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it."

CUFI declared that its campaign was launched to eliminate the moral confusion in the American media when it comes to the true nature and goals of Hamas. A dedicated CUFI Web page asked readers to email Secretary of State John Kerry: "Now is not the time to ease the legal and justified blockade of Gaza. Now is the time to destroy Hamas' terror tunnels, remove Hamas' missile stockpiles, and demilitarize Gaza."

Before the newsprint was dry, CUFI organized a tour of 51 leading pastors — one from each state and the District of Columbia — to travel to Israel for a four-day solidarity trip. Braving hundreds of rockets, the pastors donated blood to the Israel Defense Forces and visited the wounded. CUFI executive director David Brog declared, "We will tell everyone we meet that those shouting 'death to the Jews' on the streets of Berlin and Paris do not represent all of us. And, perhaps most importantly, we'll share what we see and learn with our members back home."

Brog followed that declaration with an essay in The Times of Israel that articulated, "When we Americans fought Al Qaeda, we understood the moral distinctions between terrorists and a democracy seeking to defend itself from them. This moral clarity should not blur at ocean's edge. Israel is a democracy defending itself — and us — from the Palestinian equivalent of Al Qaeda, Hamas. We must stand unequivocally with Israel."

At a time when Jews in Europe are noiselessly changing their names, when Jews in America are questioning their identity and their safety in hushed tones, CUFI will not go quietly.

While some major American Jewish organizations are still typing press releases, pondering position statements and scheduling conference calls, CUFI has rushed in from the aisles to shake things up, joining StandWithUs and others in the front row of the pro-Israel community.

Black is the award-winning author of the international bestseller IBM and the Holocaust. This article follows his just-released newsbook, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel.

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