A prominent American televangelist and outspoken supporter of Israel publicly apologized Friday for remarking that the Holocaust was the work of divine providence, and that "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land."
"In a sermon in 1999, I grappled with the vexing question of why a loving God would allow the evil of the Holocaust to occur," John Hagee, the Texas-based preacher wrote in a letter to Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman. "I know how sensitive the issue of the Holocaust is and should be to the Jewish community and I regret if my Jewish friends felt any pain as a result."
Last month, audio of Hagee's remarks surfaced on the internet, prompting Republican presidential hopeful John McCain to disavow the pastor's prior endorsement of his candidacy.
Foxman issued a statement welcoming the pastor's apology. "Pastor Hagee has devoted his life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel," Foxman said. "We are grateful for his efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism and to rally so many in the Christian community to stand with Israel."
Labor Party MK Colette Avital, a former consul general in Israel's mission in New York, penned an op-ed piece for Haaretz earlier this month in which she called on the Israeli government to follow McCain's example and disassociate itself from Hagee.
"As someone familiar with the evangelicals' views and beliefs on the second coming of Jesus, there is nothing surprising to me about his statements," Avital wrote. "It only causes me to sigh in relief because the truth is coming out."