Former Democratic vice presidential candidate turned Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman is listed as a headline speaker at an upcoming event sponsored by John Hagee, a preacher from San Antonio, Texas, whose controversial views recently caused Republican presidential candidate John McCain to reject his endorsement.
Lieberman is listed as keynote speaker for a Night to Honor Israel banquet at the third annual summit of Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, scheduled July 21-24 in Washington.
It will be a repeat performance for Lieberman, who is supporting McCain for president. Lieberman spoke at the event last year. So did McCain, who showed up billed as a surprise guest to declare himself a Christian and “proudly pro-Israel.”
McCain recently distanced himself from Hagee, after a series of controversial statements by the pastor culminated with airing of a sermon from the 1990s that God used Hitler and the Holocaust to deliver Jews to the Promised Land.
After first welcoming Hagee’s endorsement, McCain repudiated the Texas pastor’s remarks as “deeply offensive and indefensible.” Moments later Hagee withdrew his endorsement of McCain. McCain later distanced himself from another controversial preacher, Ohio mega-church pastor Rod Parsley, for remarks critical of Islam.
Unlike McCain, Lieberman defended Hagee as recently as May 13 on Fox News as someone who “represents a lot of people in this country, particularly Christians who care about the state of Israel,” journalist Max Blumenthal reported on Web sites including Talk2Action and The Huffinington Post.
Blumenthal, who covered last year’s CUFI gathering until he was asked to leave for asking adversarial questions of Hagee during a press conference, said Lieberman compared Hagee to the biblical prophet Moses and dubbed him a “man of God” in remarks to the 2007 summit.
Lieberman issued a statement Wednesday saying he will honor his commitment to speak to the CUFI gathering.
“I believe that Pastor Hagee has made comments that are deeply unacceptable and hurtful. I also believe that a person should be judged on the entire span of his or her life’s works,” Lieberman said. “Pastor Hagee has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews. The organization that he has helped build, Christians United for Israel, is a vital force in supporting the war against terrorism and defending our ally, Israel.”
Progressive groups including the Jewish organization J Street and People For the American Way launched petitions urging Lieberman to cancel his appearance at the July conference. The J Street petition described Hagee’s preaching as “outside the mainstream of American politics,” while the PFAW accused the senator of helping to legitimize “a dangerous demagogue.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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