American Evangelical pastor John Hagee — who heads the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the United States — half jokingly compared Benjamin Netanyahu to the Messiah on Sunday night, as he waited for the delayed prime minister to arrive at a Jerusalem hotel to address the crowd.
“There’s a saying in Judaism about the Messiah — I know that even if he tarries, he’ll come,” Hagee told hundreds of members of Christians United for Israel. “I know that the prime minister will come, and even if he tarries, he’ll come.”
The crowd laughed, and so did Hagee. But as Hagee introduced Netanyahu when he finally arrived half an hour later, the comparison with the Messiah no longer seemed so far-fetched.
“He was a fighter in an elite unit and helped free the hostages on the Sabena, and fought in the Yom Kippur War,” Hagee began. “As finance minister, he brought Israel from welfare to work [applause]. He strengthened the private sector and cut down the public sector. He’s married to Sara, and his son Jonathan [sic] is a national Bible champion [applause]. He gets up every morning at six to study the Bible with his son [wild applause]…
“He also changed the path of Christianity in America, when he asked me in 2006 if he thought American Christians could unite for Israel,” Hagee continued. “Ancient Israel had Moses who led them in the desert; during the golden era they had King David, who conquered Jerusalem, and today, when there are existential threats, Israel has a champion who can confront the challenge; please welcome the prime minister…[more wild applause, whistles, and the sound of a shofar from somewhere].”
Netanyahu immediately corrected two of Hagee’s errors; his son the Bible champion’s name is Avner, and he reads the Bible on Shabbat, after lunch. He then segued into the story of the sin of King David, when he sent Uriah the Hittite off to war so he could have his wife, Batsheva. The allegory of the poor man and his lamb, delivered as a reprimand to David, is cited by Netanyahu as an example of how all people are equal before the law, including Israel’s Arab population.