Televangelist Pat Robertson said Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon–fighting for his life following a stroke–is being punished by God.
Sharon, 77, suffered brain damage from a stroke and ensuing cerebral hemorrhage, Ha’aretz reported Thursday afternoon. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Sharon’s doctors planned a CT scan on the premier’s brain on Friday, but won’t know the effects of his illness until they try to awaken him from a drug-induced coma on Sunday.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Robertson, host of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club,” on Thursday’s program blamed Sharon’s incapacitation on policies he said “divide God’s land.”
“I have said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous period of its entire existence as a nation,” Robertson said. “That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon.”
Saying Sharon is a likeable person and he is sorry to see him in this condition, Robertson accused the Israeli leader of ignoring warnings in the Old Testament Book of Joel that God has enmity against those who “divide my land.”
“God considers this land to be his,” Robertson said. “You read the Bible, he says, ‘This is my land.’ And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he going carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No. This is mine.'”
A CBN news article said Sharon’s plan to evict Jews from Gaza, a step toward creating an independent Palestinian state, for many Jews and Christians put both Israel and the United States on the wrong side of the Bible.
On Thursday’s broadcast Robertson said the same thing happened with the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose role in the Oslo Accords earned him the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize–along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Perez–but polarized Israeli society between those who viewed him as a hero for the cause of peace and a traitor for giving away Israeli land.
“I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974,” Robertson said. “He was tragically assassinated, and it was terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless, he was dead.”
“And now Ariel Sharon–who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with–I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God’s land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America,” Robertson continued. “God says, ‘This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone.'”
Robertson has a long history of controversial remarks. In August he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Robertson agreed with preacher Jerry Falwell saying feminists, gays and secularists were responsible.
In the 2004 elections he said God had ordained President Bush’s election to a second term. He has also said “activist” judges appointed by Democrats pose a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorists.
Other religious leaders quickly condemned Robertson’s latest remarks.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called them “un-Christian and a perversion of religion.”
Stan Hastey, executive director of the Alliance of Baptists, said in an interview that Robertson has “a long and established history of assuming to speak for God and of selective prooftexting.”
The Alliance of Baptists is a member body of Churches for Middle East Peace, a Christian lobbying and educational group that seeks to counter influence of the religious right by advocating both a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state as the best solution for securing peace.
Hastey said Robertson would do well to read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “I would simply remind Pat Robertson that Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called children of God,” he said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.