The Prime Minister of Israel took time out of his busy schedule this week bombing civilians in Lebanon to meet with former U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Religious Right icon Pat Robertson. Robertson, who was shunned by Israel for suggesting that former Prime Minister Sharon's stroke was God's vengeance for Sharon's modest peace efforts, has bought forgiveness from the Israeli government because of his financial investments there and for his strong support of Israel's military campaigns. Robertson conducted a long interview yesterday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about his views on prophecy and how the events occurring today were foretold in the Bible. Conservative evangelical Christians hold enormous sway over American foreign policy in the Bush Administration and it is simply frightening that the president of the United States is being advised by people willing to quickly justify the death of so many civilians with a desire that war in Israel will usher in the end times.
Here's the interview:
BLITZER: Reverend Robertson, thanks very much for spending a few moments with us.
PAT ROBERTSON, RELIGIOUS BROADCASTER: Sure, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's unusual meeting you here in Jerusalem.
ROBERTSON: It is.
BLITZER: But why did you decide to come at this very sensitive moment to Israel?
ROBERTSON: Wolf, I love Israel. And I wanted to let the Jewish people and people of Israel know that I stood with them.
And I wasn't afraid. I did my show from Metulla. I was up where the Katyushas were falling. And I wanted to let them know that the evangelicals of America love them and we're supporting in this struggle.
BLITZER: I know you've had a chance to meet with the prime minister of Israel...
BLITZER: ... on this, a day when the Israeli cabinet has made a major decision.
Give our viewers a sense of how your meeting with the prime minister went, what he said to you.
ROBERTSON: Well, I said -- I quoted from Shakespeare. I said, "Some men are born great and others have greatness thrust upon them, and you have come out great. I am so proud of you," of the strength that he's shown.
And he was so calm and relaxed. I said, "You decided now to go fully engaged into this?" He said, "We're going to do it. We're going to move."
And then he also spoke about Nasrallah. He doesn't particularly like him. He said, "He wants to find 72 virgins and we're going to help him."
I said, "Do you know where he is?" He said, "If I know where he was within a few seconds he wouldn't be there."
So he said, basically, he's -- this man is evil and he's going to target him.
BLITZER: Were you impressed by the determination -- this is now entering the second month of this war and clearly things have not necessarily gone as well for the Israelis as they would have hoped for.
PAT ROBERTSON, RELIGIOUS BROADCASTER: Wolf, I was so impressed with the calm nature of the prime minister. You know he showed me a picture of Auschwitz that gate going in and three Israeli jets flying overhead. It was so moving.
We talked about the Oslo Accords and really what a mistake it was to deal with Yasser Arafat. I think he gets it. But he gets it in such a calm fashion. He wasn't rattled, he wasn't frantic. He had this calm peace about him and the determination that he was going to see this thing through to victory.
BLITZER: Now this is a man, Ehud Olmert that you've met with on many earlier occasions.
BLITZER: A lot of people out there don't understand the relationship between the evangelical community in the United States, religious Christians and Israel. Talk a little bit about the religious aspect of what motivated you to come here now.
ROBERTSON: Well, this is what is so deep. It isn't that this is one more democracy, this isn't some floating battle, I mean permanent battleship in the Mediterranean and all of that thing. We believe firmly that the Jewish people are the people of God. We believe that this nation is the nation of destiny and that somehow we are inextricably linked with the destiny of Israel.
I was taught when I was a little child by my mother the words of God of Abraham, blessed are those that bless you and cursed are those that curse you. And she always said you must bless the Jewish people. And from a little boy I learned that. So this is deep in the DNA if you will of the evangelicals of America.
BLITZER: But is there the whole apocalypse, the whole issue of that, the second coming of Christ. How does Israel and the destruction of Israel fit into that, because you've spoken about that over the years?
ROBERTSON: Well, my feeling is, is that God is going to defend this country and maybe the next thing down the road, if you read the Prophet Ezekiel, the 38th chapter, it is very amazing where he foretells of time when Israel will be under attack by Russia, Iran, Libya and Sudan. And he leaves out Saudi Arabia, he leaves out Jordan. It's remarkable, he leaves out Egypt.
But yet it's down there, when Israel has been gathered together from the nations of the earth and are living at peace in the land of Israel. But this talks of a great victory against the forces who would come against Israel. And the bible is full, the Old Testament, not the new, the old testament is full of references to God's protection for Israel and that's what we feel. We feel that God will fight for the Jewish people.
BLITZER: What about the innocent civilians who are dying in this war in Lebanon?
ROBERTSON: It always grieves me and grieves all of us to see war. But you know, in order to take Omaha Beach, the United States lost 8,000 men to take down Adolph Hitler. It costs to fight terrorism. It costs to fight for freedom. This is one of those thing and unfortunately, we're dealing with an enemy here that hides itself among the civilians, hides these Katyushas rockets in innocent villages, sometimes does not permit the villagers to leave their villages and makes them stay so they're targets.
That kind of thing is barbaric but that's what's being done and regrettably, if a civilian government like the government of Lebanon allows it to happen, then there will be collateral damage. But Israel I think is trying its best to restrain the amount of damage and to target strikes only on military targets.
BLITZER: You remember you caused quite a stir a few months ago when the former prime minister of Israel Ariel Sharon had a stroke. He remains in a coma even as we speak right now. And you suggested, but correct me if I'm wrong, that perhaps God was punishing Sharon for giving up Gaza.
ROBERTSON: You know I was misquoted on that Wolf. It happens and you don't have a chance to call it all back. If you read the tape, the transcript of what I actually said, I talked about my love of this man. I prayed with him, I met with him on a number of occasions. He had a luncheon here for me in my honor.
And I was just pointing out what the Prophet Joel had to say about this being God's land and God looks at it very seriously. And I said woe unto those who would under the pressure of the United States of the United Nations give up God's land. But I didn't say this was God's judgment on this man that I was very fond of. I was misquoted.
BLITZER: Did you raise the issue today with the prime minister additional Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank? Because as you know, he has in the past, in fact he ran on this notion that Israel should return, at least a big chunk of the West Bank to the Palestinians?
ROBERTSON: I drove down from Metula to Tel Aviv last night past the power stations and the other installations and I realized that if the West Bank was given over to Hamas, that there would be no place in Israel safe for any Israeli to live. They would be under the range of rockets, even short range rockets, it would be absolute hell on earth for Israel.
When the prime minister was talking to me, he said what a flawed treaty the Oslo Accords were. Well the Oslo Accords are what gave up a large portion of the territory to Yasser Arafat. And having said that, I didn't think it was necessary for me to guild the lily and get into this other. Because it seemed like he understands that he must protect these people and that's my belief. But did I get into it specifically? No, I didn't.
BLITZER: Do you return to the United States with, what is your major impression based on the days that you've been here?
ROBERTSON: Most of these people are resolute, they are steadfast in the midst of terror, a million refugees. I traveled around and you never know when death will rein on you out of the skies. I was in two instances where I had to seek shelter in an air raid shelter, a bomb shelter, because these Katyusha rockets were coming in.
Nobody knows where they're safe any place in northern Israel. So the fact that they're saying, go to victory, don't quit, don't stop, it's a resolution that I wish we could see a little of that in the United States of America. I'm very proud of Israel in this time of crisis.
BLITZER: Reverend Robertson, thanks very much.
ROBERTSON: Thank you.