This year Christians United For Christ (CUFI) focused on the following three items at their 2013 annual conference: Iran; The ongoing persecutions of Christians; and The strategic alliance between the U.S. and Israel.
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is 1.3 million strong and we were honored to be in their company as together we purposed to take a visible stand for Israel today! This year CUFI focused on the following three items at their 2013 annual conference:
Each of these items is currently represented in bills on the floors of both the House and the Senate and are in the process of being ratified, and signed or vetoed by President Obama. I would like to focus on the three bills that are currently being debated on Capitol Hill. On the final day of the CUFI conference, we went to the Hill to meet with our respective state congressmen and senators. We were part of the Idaho delegation, so our meetings were with Senator James Risch and Congressman Raul Labrador. Two others from Idaho met with Senator Crapo, who is a well-known supporter of Israel.
1) H.R. 850 - The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013
Background: Last June, the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani as their new president. Many in the media are already praising Rouhani as a “moderate,” and many public figures are calling for a new, softer approach to Iran, seeking to ease some of our current sanctions.
Rouhani may look and sound nicer than his predecessor, but he is a loyal supporter of Iran’s radical regime. Netanyahu paints the picture as follows: “Make no mistake about it: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing but Rouhani is the classical wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The bottom line, however, is that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the real power in Iran!
This bill, which is on the floor and awaiting a vote, has as its three points the following:
Point 1: Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism. It has already demonstrated that when it has the means to kill Israeli and American civilians, it will do so. The top terrorist nation must not be permitted to acquire the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
Point 2: Regardless of the current new president, we must take action now to strengthen our sanctions until Iran takes concrete steps to end its illegal nuclear activities.
Point 3: Enacting tougher sanctions now sends the right message to the entire world (to both our allies as well as to our enemies) at the right time that America remains committed to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
2) H.R. 301 and S.653 – Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2012
CUFI in the past has always been a one-task organization, but because of recent events the time to act is now regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East!
Background: In recent years, the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East have come under unprecedented assault. Church bombings, shootings and other persecutions are forcing Christians from their homes in record numbers. Since 2003, a majority of Iraq’s Christians have fled their homes. Since the Arab Spring, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled their homes in Egypt and Syria. You might be interested to know that there is only one place in the entire Middle East where the population of Christians has increased—the state of Israel!
The fact is that when we oppose those who persecute Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, we’re opposing the same agents of intolerance who make the region such a dangerous place for our ally, Israel.
Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate which calls for the appointment of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Near East and Central Asia. Such an envoy can help focus the attention of the President, the Secretary of State and the nation on this human rights crisis.
Point 1: One of the great human rights crises of our times is the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Yet this crisis is largely overlooked and underreported.
Point 2: The United States has traditionally protected persecuted religious minorities around the world. We must not forfeit this role when it comes to the persecuted Christians.
Point 3: A special envoy focused on this issue can ensure that it gets increased attention from policy makers and the press.
Special note: This subject was near and dear to the hearts of the Idahoan delegation due to the Boise pastor, Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, who remains jailed in Iran for his faith. Melissa Barnhart, CP Reporter, reported the following:
Franklin Graham issued a statement Thursday announcing that Sept. 26 will mark one year that Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran for being a believer in Jesus Christ. He said Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, continues to hear reports that her husband is being beaten and tortured and she feels abandoned by the U.S. government, as President Obama continues to remain silent on the issue.
The CUFI community believes the time is now to raise this issue and we cannot be silent anymore!
3) H.R. 938 and S. 462 – United States – Israel Strategic Partnership of 2013
Background: Israel is facing increasingly serious security challenges. The threats from Hezbollah, Hamas and now al-Qaeda have increased as each group continues to stockpile more and more sophisticated weapons and all have an eye on the chemical weapons stockpiled in Syria. And also noteworthy is the fact that Iran is now a year closer to building a nuclear weapon. Over the course of the past year, new and dire security threats have emerged. Since the ouster of President Hosni Murbarak, the once quiet Egypt-Israel border had turned into a staging ground for terrorist attacks. Since the Syrian civil war has escalated, the once quiet Syrian-Israel border has been infiltrated by al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and Israel by, among other things:
- Declaring Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States;
- Authorizing and encouraging assistance for the joint development of the David’s Sling Weapons System, the Arrow Weapons System, and the Iron Dome rocket defense system;
- Expanding the forward deployment of United States weapons stockpiled in Israel;
- Urging greater cooperation in cyber-security.
Point 1: Israel is our first line of defense against shared enemies. When Israel fights Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic terror out of Syria and Egypt, it’s fighting our enemies for us.
Point 2: It’s in our best interests to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge over any combination of these shared enemies. Israel’s failure to prevail over these enemies would result in greater security challenges for the United States. We must drown out the “Death to America” chants of our enemies as well as being targeted as the bigger Satan!
Point 3: Strategic cooperation with Israel is a win-win. The United States military benefits enormously from access to Israel’s latest innovations and extensive battlefield testing of jointly-developed systems.
Are We Friend or Foe?
All of these bills are currently on the floor being debated and we are asking for these items to progress to a vote and then to become the law of the Land. After meeting with our government leaders I came away with the understanding that Congress is lock stock behind Israel. The real question will come down to the White House because, for the first time since Israel became a State, we have a President in office who just may veto these bills and has demonstrated no firm position on the United States’ support of Israel.
As this article is being written, reports have surfaced that the White House has eased the bite of the sanctions against Iran, which just may lead to an Israeli strike. The question will be: where will America stand “the day after”?
The items listed above seem to this writer to be far more important than shuffling our Secretary of State off to the Middle East only to demand Israel makes more and more concessions for what will be another failed peace project between Israel and a group who still refuses Israel’s right to exist!