by Sherwood Brooks, program director, www.ConservativeNationRadio.org
Christians United For Israel is an organization whose name speaks for itself, and with which I was not familiar until this spring. I was invited to a presentation at a church in Georgetown by a fellow conservative in May, and I was glad to go. I was invited to attend C.U.F.I’s Washington Summit on Tuesday, and I was glad to go then, too.
At the outset, let me say this as plainly as possible: I support Israel, and I support the State of Israel‘s absolute right to exist, to defend itself and to determine its own future. Moreover, I believe Israel is a reliable ally to the United States and that our alliance should remain in effect.
I also understand fully why Israel exists in the first place, and that is simply the horrors endured by Jews at the hands of the Nazis (the ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party” which doesn’t sound very right-wing to me, but, I digress) in World War Two. The Allies (who were called “The United Nations” by FDR and Churchill) wanted to make sure that Jews would never again be subject to such atrocities; the only real way to ensure that was for the Jewish people to have their own nation-state with its own defense, trade, borders, culture…in short, an actual country of their own, one whose identity, unique in the modern world, is formed of the most ancient faith on earth and exists to fulfill a promise made by almighty God to the Twelve Tribes. This Biblical promise is one of the central defining tenets of Judaism and, as a Christian living in the foremost Western industrialized democracy, I’m glad it has been fulfilled, and I’m glad my nation played, and still plays, a central role in its fulfillment.
Now, I’m not all that glad that I went to the Washington Summit of C.U.F.I. on Tuesday, though.
I’ve worked in broadcasting and communications for over 40 years and I’ve never seen anything even remotely as awful as the “press relations” conducted at C.U.F.I. at the Washington Convention Center that day. When we arrived, I noted no network vans, no satellite trucks, no local news crews, no cable outfits…nobody. Around 4,000 people each paid at least $150. to attend this meeting, and, oddly, no mainstream journalists were in evidence. I found out why a few minutes after we got there.
Never mind that the Western press has done a 180-deg. turn in its collective outlook on the Jewish state in the last 20 years. Never mind that the “cheering section” for Israel in 1967 and in 1973 now trashes it every chance they get, and is openly rooting for a terrorist victory against Israel. Never mind that Europe is a hotbed of antisemitism now almost as much as it was in the 1930s. Never mind that any Israeli, or any Jew, who trusts the media is as foolish as one who would have trusted Hitler. Never mind that the Israelis, and any group in any other nation that supports the State of Israel, have every reason imaginable to be mistrustful, and even openly hostile, to the media, which is openly hostile to them. Never mind that stuff.
Never mind that I was required to remain in the “press room” and could not go to any part of the Summit without a C.U.F.I. escort. I was willing to understand that, to an extent. And I write here as a citizen journalist, and not as spokesman for the Sussex Republican Committee, nor on behalf of Kevin Wade, the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware last year, with whom I went to the C.U.F.I. summit. Kevin secured our media credentials, and, during a live video feed from Jerusalem by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was approached by Sergeant Benjamin Anthony, a Jewish Briton who emigrated to Israel and serves as a heavy machine gunner in the IDF reserves. Kevin and Ben are old friends, and the sergeant invited Kevin to attend an off-the-record briefing at 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, featuring three uniformed members of the IDF. When we approached the briefing, Ben greeted Kevin, bade him to sit down as the shofar played a veritable call to arms, and then things started to get weird.
Since Kevin and I were wearing ‘press’ lanyards, a C.U.F.I. ‘minder’ came over and told us we had to leave the briefing. Kevin explained that Ben had invited him; the sergeant came over and confirmed his personal invitation to Kevin. The minder seemed to accept that, then spoke into his cuff microphone. Two minutes later, just as the briefing started, three C.U.F.I. ‘escorts’ arrived to tell Kevin and me that we had to leave the briefing. These guys weren’t particularly polite; one reminded me of an NFL middle-linebacker. They literally ran us out of the building. I didn’t feel safe until I was on the Metro heading back to Union Station. Some thugs wear neckties, I suppose.
Besides some excellent brownies, coffee, tea and such in the press room, I noticed a girl who was stringing for HotAir.com, a guy who was hoping to get his piece published on the Daily Caller, a guy who had a church somewhere and wrote a newsletter, a woman who said she had just gone for a swim (I am NOT making this up.)…and Kevin and me. I saw a few others with orange ‘press’ credentials here and there, and those guys were all wearing yarmulkes. The security presence was creepy, intimidating and pretty much paranoid. Maybe C.U.F.I. thinks there’s nothing they can do to get the press back on Israel’s side; maybe they think it’s a lost cause, so why bother trying. If that’s the case, nobody from the media should have been credentialed in the first place.
That the C.U.F.I. people sent actual “muscle” to run Kevin and me out of the building didn’t make their summit any more ‘secure,’ but it did send a message that C.U.F.I. trusts no-one…even two people who work for organizations with the word “conservative’ in their names. Don’t get me wrong: The C.U.F.I. display highlighting antisemitic bigotry on U.S. college campuses was disgusting, and reinforced the institutionalized pro-Palestinian, left-wing bias of academe in America. The Star of David = Swastika graffiti illustrated in the display was enough to make any adult’s blood boil. I am now, and always have been, on Israel’s side. After all, it’s a democracy like America is. But C.U.F.I. is different from the State of Israel, and America is different from the West Bank. Israel didn’t lose a friend on Tuesday, but C.U.F.I. did, and rightly so.