Last night, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held their ninth annual Night to Honor Israel gala. This was the kickoff event for the Christian Zionist group’s Washington Summit held at the DC convention Center. More than 5,000 were in the audience, composed of CUFI delegates, honored speakers and guests. Having attended andwritten about the first CUFI Washington Summit, held in the midst of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, interspersed with Israeli music, dancing in the aisles and waving of American and Israel flags. That inaugural CUFI event was held at the convention center of the Washington Hilton.
This year I watched it on-line at GETV reminiscing mentally about the inaugural event I attended. The remarks conveyed by speakers at the CUFI gala were punctuated by references to the war raging in Gaza. A war with IDF ground forces pitted against the fortified terrorist army of Hamas supported by Turkey and Qatar with rockets and engineering experts provided by Iran’s Quds Force and proxy Hezbollah.
Watch this YouTube video of Ambassador Dermer’s speech at last night’s CUFI Night to Honor Israel:
Last night, hecklers from Code Pink somehow entered the Convention Center heckling Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer’s stem winding speech near the close of the two hour event. They shouted “war Criminal!” Dermer, not missing a beat, referred to the hecklers as “moral Idiots.” That led to loud cheers of “Israel, Israel” by the CUFI audience.
Code Pink has perennially protested both AIPAC Washington Policy Conferences and CUFI Summit events. Code Pink representatives were involved with the aborted Free Gaza flotillas. Most notorious of which occurred in 2010 involving the Israeli navy commando raid on the Turkish ferry, the Mavi Marmara owned by Turkish Islamist charity and Hamas backer, IHH.
The CUFI Night to honor Israel last was an emotional gathering keyed to uplifting spirits and girding for battle citizens lobbying on Capitol Hill the following day. The CUFI delegate audience at the DC Convention Center traveled from across the US to hear rousing speakers led off by Pastor Hagee. The speeches were directed at energizing the delegates to charge up Capitol Hill the next day buttonholing Congressional Representatives and Senators endeavoring to stop funding of the Palestinian Authority and support funds for Israel’s Iron Dome system that has spared mass casualties in Israeli population centers. When cameras panned the audience I noticed Erick Stakelbeck, CBN’s noted terrorism commentator. Rabbi Jonathan Hausman was also in the audience.
The CUFI Night to Honor Israel began with an invocation by Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg of orthodox Rodei Sholom Synagogue of San Antonio, Texas. That was followed by an introductory speech by his friend Pastor Hagee supportive of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. An Operation necessitated by Hamas’ rocket war covering 80 percent of Israel and sending its citizens scrambling for shelter triggered by wailing red alert sirens or pings on their cell phones from a downloaded app. His message conveyed the hope that Israel’s ground incursion into Gaza world crush Hamas. Five days into ground operations, the IDF is faced with a daunting, tough slog with significant casualties deployed to destroy a network of tunnels crossing the frontier threatening Israeli Kibbutzim and towns in the western Negev. The creation of those expertly built tunnels with tons of concrete and steel appear to be taken from the playbook of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy, who fortified Southern Lebanon after Israel left in 2000.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam were honored at last night’s CUFI event. They spoke of their appreciation for this flagship Christian Zionist organization founded by Pastor John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. US Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke about his first trip to Israel in 1996 with the Adelsons. He drew attention to the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons project and the necessity of picking up the cudgel of tougher sanctions given the extension this past weekend of P5+1 talks with Iran. CUFI’s Executive Director David Brog spoke of the rise of CUFI student chapters combating campus Israeli Apartheid Awareness Weeks and BDS campaigns. He noted the disruption of former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech in February 2010 at UCIrvine. Brog was followed by a speech by one of the 1,000 CUFI college chapter delegates from Mississippi chronicling his path towards his campus leadership advocating support Israel and Jews.
Near the close of the two hour CUFI gala came Amb. Dermer’s speech. He drew attention to the sobering loss of more than 27 fallen IDF soldiers in the ground incursion, among them two Americans, Max Steinberg of Woodland Hills, California, and Sean Carmeli from South Padre Island, Texas. 20,000 attended Carmeli’s funeral in Israel signifying solidarity and recognition of his commitment and those of his Golani Brigade mates to defeat Hamas. Dermer drew attention to Hamas’ strategy of purposefully placing human shields in front of launching sites and the extensive network of tunnels in Gaza, many with entrances in homes and apartment complexes. Tunnels designed to infiltrate suicide commandos inflicting casualties on IDF troops across the frontier and seeking to kill and kidnap Israel service personnel and civilians.
In response to hecklers from pro-Palestinian Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink, Amb. Dermer drew a comparison to the London blitz of WWII and the Nazi V -1 and 2 flying bombs and rockets that took the lives of tens of thousands of brave British civilians. Jacob Kornbluh in his JP- Jewish Politics News and Updates report captured Dermer’s remarks:
During his speech, which was interrupted several times by code pink hecklers, Ambassador Dermer emphasized that no military in history has taken greater care than the IDF to protect the innocents of the other side.
“Does anyone believe that America would use less force? Does anyone believe that Britain would use less force?” he asked.
Dermer drew a distinction between the responses Israel has shown for rockets being fired at its cities to Churchill’s response when bombarded by missiles fired by the Nazis on Britain during WWII. “I won’t accept criticism of Israel for not exercising restraint that would not be shown by any nation on earth.” “Israeli Defense Forces should be given a Nobel Peace prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint,” Dermer proclaimed.
Dermer referenced the “evil” of Hamas placing Palestinian civilians as human shields. He said it was part of a deliberate strategy directed at cultivating leftist groups of Jewish fellow travelers like the hecklers of his speech and the media with graphic pictures of injured or dead children and women aimed squarely at placing the blame on Israel. He said “it is time for the UN and the world to find a moral compass and backbone.” He drew attention to the rise of radical Islam, whether Shia Iran and proxy Hezbollah, Sunni ISIS and Hamas denying rights for women and no tolerance for Jews and Christian. He noted the 35,000 Assyrian Chaldean Christians who fled Mosul conquered by the Islamic State for the security of Kurdistan in Iraq.
What occurred at CUFI’s Washington Gala was “a night to remember.” A night that honored Israel.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.