Tuesday, May 20, 2008

History as analogy: a slippery slope

from the Huffington Post: Sarah Posner: Hagee's Lesson Plan for Bush's Appeasement Speech

For the past two years, John Hagee, the televangelist and head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has been laying out the lesson plan for Bush's speech in the Knesset this week, in which he accused Barack Obama of appeasing terrorists like Neville Chamberlain appeased the Nazis. Since Hagee founded CUFI in early 2006, he has been beating the drums for war with Iran, and rejecting diplomacy as Chamberlain-esque appeasement.

Hagee, who endorsed Bush in 2000 with a book, God's Candidate for America, said in 2003 said that "God raised up George Bush for this time in history to crush Saddam Hussein." After he met with McCain in early 2007, Hagee declared McCain's views on Israel "on target." In other words, McCain's no weak-kneed appeaser of terrorists. If God raised up Bush, and, as Hagee has maintained, the threat from Iraq was nothing compared to the threat from Iran, then his endorsement of McCain suggests that he views the Republican nominee, once again, as God's puppet for his deranged obsession with a bloody, war-ending war.

Since the 2006 publication of his incendiary, conspiracy and fear-mongering book, Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee has been comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Hitler and accusing those favoring diplomacy of appeasing him. Ahmadinejad is not just like Hitler, though, he's like Haman, and he's like Pharaoh, too, and all those biblical stories prove, in Hagee's mind, that confronting him is essential for the survival of the Jews -- nothing short of a military strike will do. His reference to "God raising up" Bush for "this time in history" is a direct reference to Queen Esther's confrontation of Haman. And when Joe Lieberman compared Hagee to Moses last year, he no doubt was validating the Pharaoh comparison. But was he imagining Hagee leading the Jews to the promised land of a boiling lake of brimstone?

Hagee claims in Jerusalem Countdown that an Israeli government insider came to him in April 2005 with "warning to the world" that the President of Iran "will prove to be the new Hitler of the Middle East." This information compelled him, he says, to write the book and launch CUFI. His standard talking point since CUFI's launch has been "It's 1938, and Iran is Germany, and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler of the Middle East."

In the summer of 2006, when war raged between Israel and Hezbollah, and McCain took to the airwaves to suggest we had entered into World War III, one of Hagee's friends in the Knesset, Benny Elon, said McCain got that idea straight from Hagee.

In his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2007, and again to CUFI in July that year, Hagee said:

As you know, Iran poses a threat to the State of Israel that promises nothing less than a nuclear holocaust. I have been saying on national television, in churches and auditoriums across America it is 1938; Iran is Germany and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler... In the Bible when Pharaoh threatened the Jewish people of Egypt he became fish food in the Red Sea. When Haman threatened the Jews in Persia in modern-day Iran he and his sons hung from the gallows that he built for the Jews.

But the appeasers, Hagee goes on, don't just want to appease Iran:

Beyond that threat from Iran there's another more subtle threat that concerns me. I am concerned that in the coming months yet another attempt will be made to parcel out parts of Israel in a futile effort to appease Israel's enemies in the Middle East. I believe that misguided souls in Europe, I believe that the misguided souls in the political brothel that is now the United Nations and sadly -- and sadly even our own State Department will try once again to turn Israel into crocodile food. Winston Churchill said and I quote an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile in the futile hope that it will eat him last -- end of quote. In 1938 Czechoslovakia -- Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland land was turned into crocodile food for Nazi Germany. The Nazi beast smelled the weakness in the appeasers, ate the food and marched and devoured most of Europe and systematically slaughtered 6,000,000 Jewish people. We are again hearing calls to appease the enemies of Israel.

McCain compared himself to Churchill -- although without, as Bush did, explicitly comparing his opponents to Chamberlain -- in a creepy March 2008 ad. For Hagee, he's right on target, and there's no secret about who's in his crosshairs.

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