Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Israel

Fredy Winkler

After Vice President Mike Pence’s initial trip to Israel was postponed—due to the harsh reactions against the American statement on Jerusalem—the visit is now considered to have been fully successful, in spite of predictions by the media critics, even in Israel, that the trip would be meaningless. The visit was directed toward the most important allies that America has in the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

A visit with Palestinian President Abbas was not possible, because Abbas won’t speak to the Americans until President Trump retracts his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Arab members of the Knesset also denounced the American position. Just as Pence’s speech before a special session of the Knesset was beginning, they voiced their opposition at full volume, which led to their being ejected from the meeting floor.

As the speech by Vice President Mike Pence went on, it was met with repeated standing ovations, demonstrating a multi-partisan unity that hasn’t been seen among the Jewish people since they became philosophically divided after the Oslo agreement.

An Israeli television critic, commenting immediately after the speech with a tone of disapproval, said, “It sounded like a sermon by an evangelical preacher.”

As a matter of fact, Pence made several statements that were grounded in Biblical values, and clarified the position of the current Trump administration. Among other things, he said, “We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.  We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country’s earliest days.”

He continued, “In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope. My country’s very first settlers also saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by Providence, to build a new Promised Land. The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day. And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance, and inspiration.”

In short, the Vice President’s speech was the impressive testimony of a statesman who stands for Biblical values. There was nothing in his speech that could have been considered offensive.

Ayman Odeh, however, leader of the (Arab) Joint List, stated before the speech even began that he wasn’t going to attend the special session, because he didn’t intend to listen to the speech of an extremist and racist with an apocalyptic, messianic agenda. This predisposed bias and prejudiced stance that was represented for the Palestinians has, unfortunately, always been the reason that the so-called “Peace Process” is stalled.

After Pence’s departure, Mahmoud Abbas looked for support from the EU. One commentator wrote, “Snubbing the Americans is like the reaction of a child who slams his door to punish his parents. His boycott of the Vice President was a childish reaction. It was also self-defeating, because there’s no one else to whom the Palestinians can turn, to help their cause. The EU can’t really help them. China, Russia and the Arab world won’t help them. The only country that could actually help them is the United States. The Palestinians just made another tactical error.”

If they had thought it through, they would have realized that Pence could have helped them, too. If he had been invited to speak at Ramallah, surely his words would have been just as promising as they were in the Knesset. He would have emphasized America’s commitment to finding a solution that would have required concessions from the Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

Thankful for a statesman who dares to stand for Biblical values.

News from Israel - 03/2018

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