Symbolic Terrorism Revisited: Hagee's CUFI 'Wipes' Islam's 3rd Holiest Site From Logo
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:41:50 AM EST
Since the founding of John Hagee's Christians United For Israel, Hagee has built up a major national profile and, at the AIPAC 2007 annual conference, addressed a significant fraction of both houses of the US Congress. Few observers paid attention to the political extremity of Hagee's new group but CUFI's original logo, featured at its events, on its printed material and on CUFI's website broadcast CUFI's apocalyptic aspirations with unmistakable symbolic force. The logo featured a picture from which the Dome of The Rock, considered the 3rd holiest site to Islam, had been airbrushed out. In symbolic terms, CUFI's logo depicted what Israel's internal security force Shin Bet views as a potentially catastrophic act of religious terrorism. [image, upper right: old "wiped" and new "unwiped" CUFI logo images]
One of the key events necessary to trigger the end-of-days scenario expected in the Christian end-time theology, known as apocalyptic premillennial dispensationalism, that is held by Pastor John Hagee, much of his CUFI membership and tens of millions of Americans, is the rebuilding of a third Jewish temple on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a spot considered one of the most highly charged possible flash points of conflict on Earth. Thus, one of the central organizational responsibilities of Israel's domestic security force, Shin Bet, is to prevent possible attacks, on the Islamic structures on and around Jerusalem's Temple Mount, by Jewish or Christian, or even Islamic, terrorist groups.

In his 2002 book The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount Israeli Journalist Gershom Gorenberg analyzes the volatile religious significance of the Temple Mount. As the Oxford University Press summarizes, "Members of the world's three major monotheistic faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--hold this spot to be the key to salvation as they await the end of the world", and as a Publisher's Weekly review describes Gorenberg's work, "Jewish messianists and Christian millennialists insist that building the Third Temple on the site where both Solomon's and Herod's temples stood is essential for the advent of the Messiah, while Muslim apocalyptic believers fear that efforts to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for the Third Temple will prevent fulfillment of the prophecy about Islam's Meccan shrine migrating to Jerusalem at the end of time... Gorenberg's prescience is manifest by his calling Temple Mount "a sacred blasting cap" and by stating that "any incident at the site can spin out of control."

But maintaining the peace in the volatile Mideast region does not appear to be high on the agenda of pastor John Hagee and other evangelical leaders now under CUFI's aegis.

As I wrote in an April 14, 2007 Talk To Action story entitled Christians United For Israel "Wipes" Dome Of The Rock From Website Logo

CUFI logo detail shows missing Dome Of RockAs the JTA news service reports today, "Christians United For Israel, a pro-Israel evangelical group, features on its website a photo of Jerusalem with the city's holiest mosques wiped out."

The JTA story actually misses the nub of the controversy ; the Dome of The Rock, considered the 3rd holiest Islamic site in the world, has been removed from the image of the Wailing Wall and environs featured in CUFI's website logo. The symbolism inherent in the logo casts a disturbing light on the tactical alliance between American Jews and CUFI founder John Hagee's new political lobbying group. The possibly incendiary nature of such symbolism to the Islamic world raises the question of why American Jewish groups and leading American politicians have associated with a leader such as John Hagee whose political views would be considered within Israeli society to be out on the extremist or even violent political fringe.

CUFI's first response, to the charge that  the Dome of The Rock had been airbrushed from the image used in its logo was to deny it and claim the Dome was missing simply because of a question of perspective.

In my April 14 piece though, I provided a number of pictures, of the same site- the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mt.,  which showed that claim was highly unlikely and even impossible.

In a followup story, CUFI's Odd Case Of the Dome That Vanished In The Night, I discussed the outcome, as a New York Jewish Telegraph Agency news story stated, unequivocally, that the image had indeed been wiped.

CUFI then changed its story and stated that the image had indeed been altered but not under CUFI's direction - the image, the group said, had been airbrushed by the artist who took the photograph from which the image was derived. The suggestion was that CUFI's use of the wiped image was somehow "accidental" but in a Google image search of literally hundreds of different images, from a similar perspective, of the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, I was unable to fund even a single image from which the Dome of The Rock had been airbrushed. There were two likely conclusions: either CUFI had specifically searched for the airbrushed image or it had in fact commissioned the image in the first place.

Now, before you think I'm attacking, please let me preface with the fact that I agree with most of the stuff on this site. I think the Dominionists are a threat to civilized society, I think they have a twisted agenda filled with hate-mongering and false precepts, and I think they intentionally took a photo from an angle that made it look like the Dome was gone. However... The angle of that photo was taken such that they're looking straight at the Western Wall. The line of sight is perpendicular to the Wall face. If you look at an OVERHEAD map of the area, and extrapolate where the camera probably was, then it's easy to see that the area you circled isn't the area where the dome should have been. The Dome is located at almost a 40 degree angle behind and away from the left corner of the Wall, and a fair distance behind. The line-of-sight lines that you drew didn't quite account for the actual changes in perspective. The edge of the Dome might have been airbrushed out, but if any part of the Dome would have been visible from that angle, it would have been a small part of it, and only on the very edge of the picture. The area you circled... just to the left of the trees... not where the Dome is. Please... do take a good analytical look at an overhead map and double-check your work. Google maps has a good one. The angles are easy to see, and from overhead, you don't get the strange mind-games that happen with on-the-ground perspectives. The reason that almost every picture of the Western Wall you found has the Dome in it is because most people consider the combination to be beautiful, tourist-worthy, and highly recognizable as the Jerusalem "skyline". It's like taking a picture of the basilica at Pisa, but not the leaning bell tower. While the basilica is a lovely piece of architecture in its own right, people always photograph them together. Very VERY few photos are taken of the Western Wall from straight-on angles. The one used in this clearly inflammatory logo was done intentionally, and was probably slightly photoshopped, but the dome was definitely not where you suggest it should have been in the photo. Gaaah, does this make me a twisted rendition of the devil's advocate?

by Mijan on Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 12:39:14 AM EST
...With pictures elaborating my perspective analysis. As you do, CUFI originally claimed this was an issue of "perspective".

But, CUFI has since admitted its logo picture was airbrushed.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 10:11:03 PM EST

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