According to a report from Sarah Posner in Mother Jones, George W. Bush is scheduled to give the keynote address at an upcoming fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, an organization devoted to converting Jews to Christianity in order to bring about the second coming of Christ.
The Messianic Jewish Bible Institute has long been a controversial organization, especially among those in the Jewish community. When former Sen. Rick Santorum spoke at an event of theirs previously, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was quoted calling the decision "insensitive and offensive." When Posner asked Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, about Bush's upcoming appearance Saperstein said, "It's disappointing that [Bush] would give his stamp of approval to a group whose program is an express effort to convert Jews and not to accept the validity of the Jewish covenant."
Bush will follow last year's keynote speaker, Glenn Beck. According to promotional materials, Posner reports, Bush will speak on his experiences in the White House. Ticket packages will range from $100 to $100,000, the higher-end of which will include VIP passes to meet the former president as well as to receive signed copies of his book, "Decision Points."
Alisa Stephenson, MJBI director of events and partner relations, would not say whether Bush is receiving a speaking fee for his appearance. "We cannot have any outside advertising or any media whatsoever involved in this, so I most likely cannot answer any of your questions," she tells Mother Jones.
A spokesman for Bush and a spokeswoman for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum did not respond to requests for comment.
At last year’s MJBI fundraiser, Beck received a "Defender of Israel" award. During Beck's time as host of his Fox News program (which ended in 2011), hundreds of Jewish leadersdenounced his on-air rhetoric as anti-Semitic—particularly his repeated invocation of Nazis and the Holocaust to demonize political adversaries and his accusation that George Soros is a "puppet master" who collaborated with the Nazis. "One of the reasons why I love Israel so much is I'm a guy who's for the underdog," Beck told the audience. "I'm a Mormon, which is kind of the Jew of the Christian world."
Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, which Beck attends, introduced Beck as a "prophet" at the event. Morris told the crowd that his church has supported MJBI because "when we do this, the Bible tells us, it's going to change the whole world. That it's going to hasten the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's going to bring about worldwide revival."
When asked how the MJBI managed to secure Bush to keynote its fundraiser, Stephenson cited its track record of drawing influential speakers, pointing to the appearance by Beck.