Robertson Roils Israel

Not content with mucking up American politics, TV evangelist Pat Robertson has created a stir in Israel. On his 40th visit to the country, Robertson used a 40-minute speech to encourage Jews to accept Jesus as their messiah.

Robertson declared that Jews need to begin to cry out for their messiah. "I've met wonderful Jews in Siberia, Brazil, the United States, here in Jerusalem, who are all saying 'Yes, Jesus, you are our messiah," he said.

The speech stole the spotlight from a march organized by Christian Zionist groups to express their support for Israel. In recent years, the Religious Right has reached out to Israel in support of its policies. His speech reinforces fears in the Jewish community that fundamentalist Christian support for Israel is merely an evangelistic effort to convert Jews.

Although Robertson denies sharing his controversial views with Israeli politicians, his public declaration offended both Israeli and American Jewry. Shortly after the tirade, several Israeli lawmakers expressed their dismay at Robertson's remarks.

The Forward reported that the co-chair of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, Yuri Shtern of the right-wing National Union Party, said he was "very upset" with Robertson. "I had hoped a leader of [Robertson's] standing accepted the continuing existence of the Jewish people as part of God's plan," said Shtern, who appeared with Robertson at a different speech.