Passion draws Evangelicals to pro-Israel event

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 25-Jun-2010

Hundreds of Oklahomans packed a pro-Israel rally and information seminar last Friday night, reinforcing the Sooner State’s traditional strong support for the Jewish nation that rests on the edge of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by hostile neighbors.

The event was organized by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a group founded by Pastor John Hagee, an Evangelical Christian minister based in Texas. Local organizers of CUFI are Jerry and Carolyn McCurry.

Several prominent representatives of the Jewish community also attended or participated in the event. Michael Barlow blew the “shofar” (ram’s horn) to begin the evening. The closing prayer by Chabad Rabbi Ovadia Goldman called God’s blessings upon organizers of the event. Rabbi Goldman’s prayer was read by Mr. McCurry. Goldman has spoken at previous CUFI events.

Also present was Edie Roodman, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, and Susan Robertson of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE).

Lending support to the event in support of close American ties to the nation of Israel were state Reps. Paul Wesselhoft and Mike Thompson, both Oklahoma City Republicans. Thompson is a candidate for the fifth district congressional seat being vacated by Mary Fallin, who is seeking to become Oklahoma’s governor. Thompson’s wife, Hayley, joined her husband at the event.

Also attending was former state Rep. Kevin Calvey, another leading candidate in the 5th C.D. contest. Neither of the congressional hopefuls spoke at the non-partisan event.

Many political analysts project Calvey and Thompson as the Republicans most likely to contend in a possible August runoff for the GOP nod. The first round primary is July 27. If no candidate gains an outright majority, a runoff will be held to determine the party nominee.

Rep. Wesselhoft distributed copies of House Concurrent Resolution 1048, a measure he shepherded through the Legislature this past session. The measure supported Israel’s right of self-defense and congratulated the modern nation of Israel on the occasion of its 62nd “birthday” on May 14.

With the help of Senate sponsor Tom Adelson of Tulsa, Wesselhoft gained co-sponsorship of the measure from every member of the state Legislature.

The measure lauded Israel’s role as the only democratic and representative government in the region, and declared the state legislative body “stands with Israel and the Jewish people in their right to live in freedom, free of terrorism in the safe and secure borders of their forefathers.”

The “seminar” aspects of the evening included the presentation by Rev. Sharon Daugherty of Tulsa’s Victory Christian Church, and a strategic overview of Middle East History by John Sommerville, central region coordinator for CUFI.

Daugherty reviewed a variety of Old Testament scriptures she affirms as supportive of the nation and people of Israel, drawing inspiration for her message from the books of Isaiah, Leviticus and Psalms.

Sommerville provided a soaring overview of Middle East history in the past 3,000 years, analyzing the origins of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli perspectives that dominate the policy and political agendas of nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

He lamented the recent shift of Turkey from comparatively cordial relations to Israel to new hostility, including anti-Israel “security” agreements with other nations in the region.

Sommerville reported on Turkey’s role in recent efforts to provision ships seeking to avoid security inspections before entering the Gaza strip adjacent to Israel. The area has been a staging ground for missile attacks on Israel in recent years.

A 30-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Sommerville spent 20 years in the infantry and 10 years working in intelligence. He encouraged Evangelicals and other supporters of Israel to attend a Washington, D.C. seminar next month at which CUFI members will be briefed on security issues and encouraged to meet with their representatives and senators. 

Two weeks ago, in an interview with News9 and CapitolBeatOK, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole strongly defended Israel’s right of self-defense.