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Stranger than fiction

Robertson, Olmert pray for victory

By Etgar Lefkovits and AP

08/10/06 "The Jerusalem Post" -- -- Israel's war against Hizbullah in Lebanon is the free world's "struggle for freedom" against Islamic-Fascism, which will soon imperil the security of the same European countries that are now criticizing Israel's war in Lebanon, prominent American Evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson said Wednesday.

"I am here to say I love Israel and that Christian Evangelicals in America stand with Israel in its struggle for freedom against Islamo-fascism, which is directed against Israel and all civilized nations of the world" Robertson said at a Jerusalem press conference during his 96-hour lightning solidarity trip.

He called Israel's four-week battle with the Iranian-backed and Syrian-supported Shi'ite terror group "the front line" for all free-loving people around the world.

"For all of our sake, Israel cannot lose," he added.

The 76-year-old American Evangelical broadcaster, who visited bomb shelters in northern Israel and dodged Katyusha rockets before heading south to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, predicted that European countries would soon face the same threat of Islamic Fundamentalism that Israel was now fighting, adding that he was "dismayed" by the "growing amount of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe."

He heaped praise on the premier, who he prayed with after his security cabinet had just authorized broadening Israel's land offensive in Lebanon, as a "man of courage" and of "indomitable leadership" for his willingness to take on "one of the most serious challenges" Israel has ever faced.

Robertson said he joined hands Wednesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to pray for victory in Lebanon.

Olmert's 15-minute meeting with Robertson came on an intense day of political activity, and could be seen as implicit recognition of the importance of the Christian right in US politics.

During his brief remarks, Robertson cautioned that while the majority of Americans clearly understand that Israel has been attacked by terrorists in the same way the US was attacked by terrorists, a drawn-out war could see public opinion shifting away from Israel as a result of the press focus on Lebanese civilians casualties of the war.

His unplanned visit comes at a time of burgeoning ties between Israel and the predominantly pro-Israel Evangelical Christian community around the world.

Robertson's war-time solidarity visit - his 17th trip to Israel - was also seen by some as an attempt to smooth over any remaining ill-will for remarks he made last year in which he said that former Prime Minister's Ariel Sharon's stroke was "divine retribution" for having evacuated the Gaza Strip, comments which he later apologized for and retracted amidst fierce criticism.

Many Evangelical Christians saw the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a retreat from a biblical prophecy of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land, and similarily view any further Israeli pullout from the West Bank as an anathema.

Separately, Robertson also noted that US Senator's Joe Lieberman's loss in the Democratic primaries Tuesday was like "God's answer" to a Republican strategists' prayers to split the party.

Copyright 1995-2006 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/

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