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Elie Wiesel to Keynote CUFI Conference Sunday

9:03 AM, Oct 23, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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wiesel.jpgElie Wiesel chooses CUFI.

Last year, the supposedly pro-Israel J Street spearheaded a campaign against the indisputably pro-Israel group Christians United for Israel. In July of 2008, J Street circulated a petition urging Senator Joe Lieberman not to speak at CUFI's annual conference, focusing attention on controversial statements made by CUFI founder and director Pastor John Hagee. The campaign was unsuccessful -- Lieberman compared Hagee to Moses in his remarks -- but months earlier Hagee had withdrawn his endorsement of Senator John McCain under intense pressure from J Street and its partisanl allies.

J Street specifically questioned Hagee's pro-Israel bona fides. His views "have nothing to do with Israel's best interests," the group said in a statement deriding Hagee's "supposed support for Israel." And J Street still keeps an opposition research file on Hagee posted on its website.

Apparently J Street's view of Hagee's is not shared by Elie Wiesel, who will be the keynote speaker at CUFI's "Night to Honor Israel" this Sunday in San Antonio at the same time that J Street will be kicking off its own conference in Washington. CUFI will honor Wiesel and, according to a CUFI official, Hagee will announce that his ministry has raised $9 million to be distributed to various Israeli charities. This is the group whose support for Israel J Street deemed illegitimate.

J Street's conference was to have featured a "poetry slam" and panel that was later cut from the program after this blog posted video of one of the speakers making statements that J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami subsequently condemned as an "abuse of Holocaust imagery." Still speaking at the conference is Salam Al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In 1994 Al-Maryati wrote that "just as Hitler forged a conflict between Judaism and Christianity, apologists for Israel crave for Islam to be at odds with both Judaism and Christianity." On September 11, 2001, just hours after the World Trade Center fell, Al-Maryati pointed the finger at Israel in a radio interview. "If we're going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list," Al-Maryati said. A year later at the campus of California State University-Northridge, Al-Maryati's Muslim Public Affairs Council put on an exhibit that contained a photograph carrying the slogan "Zionism is Nazism."

On the one hand we have a Holocaust survivor and rightful Nobel Peace Prize winner addressing an organization whose pro-Israel credentials J Street has repeatedly attacked. And on the other we have a paranoid, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist addressing an organization that the Israeli ambassador refuses to engage on the grounds that the policies it supports could "impair Israel's interests."

Ben-Ami said of Hagee's remarks last spring that they were "offensive not just to Jewish people who suffered at the hands of Adolf Hitler but to all Americans, their parents and grandparents who fought and sacrificed to defeat Nazi Germany." So then why is Elie Wiesel speaking at Hagee's conference and Salam Al-Maryati speaking at Ben-Ami's?