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Washington, DC, May 21, 2008 – In response to reports that Pastor John Hagee has made statements suggesting that Jews are responsible for the Holocaust, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, sent the following open letter calling for an explanation:
Dear Pastor Hagee,
I have received questions from many of my members who have read recent articles (The Huffington Post, IsraelENews, Talk2Action) about themes in your speeches and writings. You have been quoted as suggesting that the Holocaust was part of God’s plan to force the Jews to go to Israel and that the Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by defying Herzl’s Zionist dream to have all Jews go to and settle in the land of Israel.
I am deeply troubled by these quotations. The Holocaust was the work of a deranged, bigoted, and anti-Semitic figure supported by a racist government. To suggest otherwise is surely an affront to the 11 million individuals, 6 million of whom were Jews, who lost their lives in the ashes of what is unquestionably the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. To blame the victims for the Holocaust and to suggest that they brought it on themselves is a desecration of their name and their memory, and an insult to the survivors and their descendents who thankfully remain in our midst today.
I am aware of the work that you have done on behalf of the State of Israel, and for that reason I find your remarks especially troubling. Please help me explain to the members of my movement the statements attributed to you. Are these sentiments representative of your current feelings and perceptions of the Jewish people and the people of Israel? Were they at one time representative? Have you in some way been grossly misquoted? Are these views which you have now repudiated?
As a Pastor to one of our nation’s largest churches, your influence is widely felt and your model of leadership is surely one that will influence many Americans. I hope that you agree with me that justifying the Holocaust or blaming it on the Jews is anathema to all who repudiate group defamation and cherish tolerance and respect. I look forward to your response.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie