Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson has shunned US evangelical leader Pat Robertson shortly before the two were to sign a major funding deal for the Galilee Christian Heritage Center after Robertson suggested that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was a punishment from God for the Gaza withdrawal, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
“The minister has very strong views on this and cannot accept what was said,” Tourism Ministry spokesman Ido Hartuv said. “We reconsidered the deal and realized that we cannot sign with Robertson or anyone who supports his views.”
Hartuv stressed that this was an attack on Robertson and his comments rather than a rejection of the evangelical community as a whole, which has become a target group for Israeli tourism in 2006.
Robertson lost favor with the ministry when he said on his popular 700 Club TV show that “God considers the land to be his… For any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away he says, ‘No this is mine.'”
The charismatic broadcaster led a group of evangelical Christians who have agreed to raise over $50 million to build the Heritage Center on a 14 hectare plot of land on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Hirchson, who has been a close ally of Sharon through the disengagement period and was amongst the first Likud members to defect with the Prime Minister to form Kadima, was scheduled to sign the agreement with Robertson committing the government to provide the land and infrastructure for the project and the evangelicals to the funding.
Three-and-a-half years and a disengagement from Gaza later, Robertson’s honor stands as vivid evidence of why Jews ought to treat Christian Zionism with equal measures of gratitude and wariness. As an axiom I learned from a community organizer puts it, “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.”
By now, most sensate Jews have heard of Robertson’s comments last week on his television show, The 700 Club. […] The statement is as illuminating as it is repugnant, and what it illuminates is the contingency of Christian Zionist support. By its very theological absolutism, Christian Zionism amounts to a very unreliable partner. As long as Israeli Jews play their ordained role in the eschatological plan, resettling the entire Land as a precondition for the Second Coming – when, by the way, they presumably will either become Christians or die as heathens – the Pat Robertsons will remain steadfast. Should the actually existing Israel make compromises on territory in order to preserve a Jewish majority and create a more secure border, enter the avenging hand of the Almighty.
We call those fair-weather friends. And as any mom worth her weight in clichés could tell you, “Sweety, they’re not really your friends!”