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On Nov. 14, 2023, as thousands of protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., to express their support for Israel amidst the Israel-Hamas war, the selection of speakers at the rally prompted criticism. Many online noted that Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, and other politicians would be sharing the stage with a pastor who's made antisemitic remarks in the past.
One post noted, “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are attending a rally with John Hagee? Better check who that is .... Oh god he said that Hitler was a Jew and the Holocaust was ordained by God.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are attending a rally with John Hagee? Better check who that is.... Oh god he said that Hitler was a Jew and the Holocaust was ordained by God
Moreover, ICE must be destroyedhttps://t.co/GLgD0MASxC
— ICE must be destroyed 🏴🏳️⚧️ (@Itmechr3) November 15, 2023
sticking my head into the howling whirlwind of current events just long enough to hear that Chuck Schumer and *John Hagee* are gonna share a stage, & having to step away because I'm coughing laughing
— Danielle May B. Here (@Builtahouse) November 14, 2023
The above claim about Schumer and Pastor John Hagee is true. Based on photographs and video evidence of the rally, Schumer and Hagee spoke on the same stage but at different points. We have reached out to Hagee to learn more about why he attended the march and will update this story if we get more information.
Recordings of the speeches can be found at the USA Today livestream and the Jewish Federations of North America's videos from Nov. 14, 2023, the latter of which also was one of the organizers of the event. Schumer can be seen speaking at the 2:14:42 mark; Hagee was introduced around the 3:24:06 minute mark:
In his speech at the "March for Israel," Hagee repeatedly chanted, “Israel! You are not alone!” He also said, “Israel has shown the world that it overcame the tragedy of the Holocaust through the power of hope. Israel has demonstrated the courage to make peace with its neighbors. Israel has always proved that it has the courage to wage war against its enemies — from the five Arab armies that tried to destroy the newly reborn state in 1948, to Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy armies.”
Hagee repeated that Christians and Jews are “one,” as well, calling Israel “the shining city on the hill” and Jerusalem "the eternal capital of Israel.”
However, his past comments that resurfaced appeared to contradict those sentiments. Hagee has long faced criticism for expressing views that many consider antisemitic, which can be tied to his specific Christian beliefs. Hagee was the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a far-right movement that has long been described as an evangelical and Christian Zionist movement. Many Christian Zionists believe that the establishment of the state of Israel after World War II is the fulfillment of a divine prophecy. According to Foreign Policy, for many evangelical Christians, the return of Jews to their homeland signals the beginning of the End Times, “a biblical final chapter of life on Earth, when nonbelievers will be destroyed in an apocalypse while God whisks true believers to an eternal life before the second coming of Christ.” However, evangelical Christians also believe that for Jews to enter that kingdom of God, they must convert to Christianity.
In the 2007 edition of his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” Hagee wrote that Adolf Hitler was the descendant of “half-breed Jews” who persecuted and murdered Jews throughout history. Earlier in the same chapter he described how God's "election concerning Israel" began with Abraham and his progeny. He said that God had chosen Jacob to be the good son over Esau, though both were sons of Isaac, who was in turn the son of Abraham:
God promised to be at war with the descendants of Esau and Amalek forever [...]
Esau's descendants would also produce a lineage that would attack and slaughter the Jews for centuries. Esau's descendants included Haman, whose diabolical mind conceived the "final solution" of the Old Testament -- the extermination of all Jews living in Persia. It was Esau's descendants who produced the half-breed Jews of history who have persecuted and murdered the Jews beyond human comprehension.
Adolf Hitler was a distant descendant of Esau.
A 2008 New York Times story reported that when U.S. Sen. John McCain was the Republican presidential candidate, he had to repudiate Hagee after a watchdog group released an old sermon recording in which Hagee claimed Hitler and the Holocaust had been part of God’s plan to chase the Jews from Europe, and drive them to Palestine.
Hagee made that statement in the late 1990s, when he claimed the Bible prophesied Hitler’s brutality, according to The New York Times: “How is God going to bring them [the Jews] back to the land? The answer is fishers and hunters. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and forces you. Hitler was a hunter. [...]That will be offensive to some people. Well, dear heart, be offended: I didn’t write it. Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, ‘My top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.’” Democracy Now shared a section of that clip in a Nov. 15, 2023, report.
In response to the news about the sermon, McCain said, “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”
Hagee later said his remarks were “mischaracterized,” and that he had dedicated his life to combating antisemitism. He added that he had always condemned the Holocaust in the strongest terms.
According to HuffPost, in a 2003 sermon "The Final Dictator,” Hagee also described the Antichrist as a “blasphemer and a homosexual” who “is at least going to be partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler, as was Karl Marx." The Antichrist, he argued, would "slaughter one-third of the Earth's population" and "make Adolph Hitler look like a choirboy." We searched for footage of this sermon that was reportedly broadcast on Christian networks around the world. The video was uploaded 14 years ago on a Vimeo account under the username “Bruce Wilson,” where it is still available.
Jews on First — a Jewish group launched in 2005 in opposition to the growing power of the Christian right wing — uploaded clips of Hagee repeating what they called “anti-semitic canards.” Created by left-leaning Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak and Co-Director of Jews on First, Jane Hunter, they compiled Hagee’s statements in a short 2008 documentary titled, “Pastor John Hagee: A Preoccupation With the Jews.” The documentary was narrated by actor Ed Asner:
The above clips also show Hagee in 1997 repeating the antisemitic trope that Jews control the financial systems of the United States, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Reporter Sarah Posner, who covers Christian Zionism, told Democracy Now on Nov. 15, 2023:
Hagee has long walked this line between seeming like he — or pretending to a Jewish audience like he — is really only interested in policy and what’s happening in the present. He walks this line, but then, when he goes into a church to preach about his theology, what he says is really quite different. He didn’t say on Tuesday that he expects, according to biblical prophecy, that one day Jesus will return and fight a very bloody battle, which, as the rabbi said, will result in Jews either converting or dying — and Muslims, too, by the way. He didn’t say that. He didn’t say that he believes that at the end of that, Jesus will rule the world from his throne on the Temple Mount. He didn’t say that everything is playing out according to biblical prophecy. And so he has basically hoodwinked many Jews into believing that he actually supports Israel, but what he really supports is his claim that ... Israel is just a pawn, really, in this Bible prophecy, which ... at the end of which, Jesus will rule the world as basically a theocrat.
A number of prominent Jewish activists criticized Hagee’s participation at the rally, including Hadar Susskind, founder of Americans for Peace Now, and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Susskind wrote on X, "I am horrified that he was given this platform. His history of hateful comments should disqualify him from decent company, much less from speaking on stage. He is not welcome and should not speak."
Hagee had joined a roster of speakers who were billed as "Voices of Allies." He was joined by Rochelle Ford, president of Dillard University, a historically Black college in New Orleans; and Anila Ali, a Pakistani American Muslim activist. Organizers said, according to The New York Times, that speakers were chosen in order to reach across divisions and strike a bipartisan tone.