The Liberty Counsel has announced the lineup of speakers for next year’s national conference, and it’s a marquee of far-right luminaries. Prominent figures of the anti-Muslim movement will rub shoulders with the anti-gay religious right. Christian dominionists will hang out with hard-line constitutionalists. And, of course, the prime minister of Israel will speak, too.
That’s right. The website for The Awakening 2012 lists Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as one of the confirmed speakers for the event scheduled for next April in Orlando, Fla. “As our nation’s honor is deteriorating, now is the time to take a stand and restore our country’s strength and dignity,” one conference flyer proclaims.
The Liberty Counsel did not return a telephone call from Hatewatch to confirm Netanyahu’s appearance via video linkup. But if it is true that Netanyahu has agreed to speak to the group, it just may be that he has agreed to lie down with the American radical right so long as they are united in common purpose. (Most of the figures associated with the conference are passionate supporters of Israel.)
Or maybe he just isn’t aware of the varied “passions” represented by participants at The Awakening.
Founded by Matthew Staver, the Liberty Counsel is affiliated with the Liberty University Law School on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Annually, the conference brings together economic conservatives, national security hawks and stars of the anti-gay – and increasingly anti-Muslim – religious right to address the future of America.
At last year’s conference, for example, Frank Gaffney, who helms the Center for Security Policy, warned that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the government at all levels – a common refrain heard from a hard right convinced that Islam is systematically subverting the West. “They are doing it through influence operations,” Gaffney warned, and no federal department was outside the Brotherhood’s insidious reach.
Gaffney is scheduled to speak at this year’s conference, as is Lou Engle, a Christian right mainstay who has said Muslims are “fueling the demonic realm” in the thrall of “spiritual dark powers.” More recently, during a 24-hour prayer and fasting event held last weekend in Detroit, Engle prayed that Muslims in Dearborn, Mich., would have “dreams of Jesus.”
The Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., also did not return calls to confirm Netanyahu’s participation. But if Netanyahu’s staff doesn’t know the nature of the group he’s agreed to address, maybe they should give the Liberty Counsel and all it’s friends a hard look.
They may not like what they find.