Christians United for Israel (CUFI) hosted their 12th annual Christians United for Israel Washington Summit July 17-18. With 3.6 million members, CUFI is the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization — about 10 times larger than AIPAC.
CUFI is a focused, single-issue entity dedicated to supporting Israel. The fundamental underlying principle of the organization is Genesis 12:3: “And I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you I will curse.” Though CUFI is only 12 years old, it has gained high enough stature to attract speakers such as Vice President Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (both via live-streaming video), along with many foreign affairs and security experts.
At this year’s Summit, Vice President Pence said President Donald Trump will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem — it is just a question of when. Pence also said “the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a usable nuclear weapon” under President Trump.
“We are at war, and President Trump wants to win,” said Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s deputy assistant and an authority on national security and terrorism.
Summit participants went to Capitol Hill to lobby representatives and senators on several important issues. Participants sought congressional support for passing the Taylor Force Act, which would prevent U.S. taxpayer money from going to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as long as the PA continues the practice of paying terrorists and their families for killing Jews. The United States gave the PA approximately $300 million in 2016, about the same amount the PA paid terrorists and their families. Taylor Force, for whom the legislation was named, served as an American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist while on vacation in Israel.
The second lobbying effort was for passing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The United States already has a law forbidding companies from complying with any foreign government-sponsored boycott, unless our government authorized that boycott. This legislation is needed to expand that law to include boycotts organized by nongovernmental organizations like the United Nations (U.N.) and the European Union (E.U.). Maryland Senator Ben Cardin is the lead sponsor of the Senate bill.
Over the many years I have attended CUFI Washington Summits, I never experienced any proselytizing, despite being a Jew among many thousands of primarily evangelical Christians. As CUFI’s founder, Pastor John Hagee, put it to the crowd: “Judaism does not need Christianity — Christianity needs Judaism. Jesus was a Jew.” The Summit even began with a rabbinic invocation, and the banquet began with the traditional washing of hands and hamotzi (blessing over bread).
This year, as in past years, special registration rates were organized by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive director emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel, including a kosher-upon-request limited attendance dinner.
CUFI’s next Washington Summit will be on July 23-24, 2018. The annual gathering is a unique opportunity to experience outspoken, unashamed love for Israel and to learn about political situations directly from experts, representatives, and senators.
In the interim, ongoing CUFI programming include pastor pilgrimages to Israel (first-hand experiences and meetings with government officials to enable participants to better inform and lead their congregations in supporting Israel and combating BDS), CUFI on Campus, and lobbying efforts on the Hill. Visit www.CUFI.org to learn more about CUFI’s many initiatives.
By Ronald Sheinson