Vice President Mike Pence addresses the annual summit of Christians United for Israel on July 17, 2017. Photo courtesy of Christians United for Israel

Pence roots administration’s support for Israel in faith

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Vice President Mike Pence told evangelical supporters of Israel that God had a hand in creating the state of Israel and that his support for the country is rooted in his faith.

He also promised that the Trump administration will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Indeed, though Israel was built by human hands it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history lies the hand of heaven,” Pence told the annual summit of Christians United for Israel on Monday (July 17).

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The group, founded by San Antonio pastor John Hagee, bills itself as the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S. It is composed largely of evangelicals and met in Washington this week in part to celebrate a new administration its members consider far friendlier toward Israel than its predecessor.

Many evangelicals look upon the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 and the “ingathering” of the Jews as a necessary step toward the end times, when they believe Jews will either accept Christianity or face eternal damnation.

Vice President Mike Pence addresses the annual summit of Christians United for Israel in Washington, D.C., on July 17, 2017. Photo courtesy of Christians United for Israel


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Pence thrilled his audience, quoting from the Prophet Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones: “Ezekiel prophesied, and I quote, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live.’

"The state of Israel and her people bear witness to God’s faithfulness as well as their own. How unlikely was Israel’s birth? How more unlikely has been her survival and how confounding against the odds has been her thriving?” he said.

Since Israel’s founding, Pence continued, “the Jewish people have awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character."

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American Jewish voters, however, preferred Democrat Hillary Clinton to Republican Donald Trump by a nearly 3-1 ratio. Few cited Israel as a top reason for their choice.

Pence also promised that Trump would make good on his own promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “It is not a question of ‘if.’ It is only ‘when,’” the vice president said to cheers.

Though the move is a priority of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and many conservative Jews and Christians, Palestinian leaders have said it would stymie peace negotiations.

Congress passed a law in 1995 requiring the move, but every president since has found it practical to delay it for fear of damaging chances for peace. Trump did the same last month, signing the waiver — which expires every six months — that keeps the embassy in Tel Aviv.


READTrump’s evangelical supporters disappointed about Israel embassy decision


Jerusalem is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews and is claimed as a capital by Israel but also the Palestinians, for the future state they aim to build on disputed land now controlled by Israel. Hagee at the summit dismissed any Palestinian rights to Jerusalem, a stance even many Israelis consider too rigid and an obstacle to peace.

Trump has reneged on his promise to move the embassy, said Barbara Goldberg Goldman, a member of the executive committee of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Goldman, who listened to Pence’s speech, said Pence was also wrong to claim that the new administration is any more committed to Israel than the last.

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“In terms of deliverables with respect to Israel, nothing has happened,” Goldman said. And many, including former Israeli President Shimon Peres, considered President Obama a steadfast friend of Israel.

“To present this as a new day? No. It is a continuation of the strong unwavering bond that Israel has had with America and America has had with Israel,” she said.

Comments

  1. “Indeed though Israel was built by human hands it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history lies the hand of heaven,” Pence told the annual summit…

    Giving speeches to seek applause is far easier than replacing healthcare. One would think the VP (and President Kardashian) has actual work to do.

    And what did President Obama invest, something like $800 million for Iron Dome? And $38 billion in September 2016? If the last administration was so terrible I guess Israel is happy to return our money.

  2. I supported Pence at one time…now he has become the consummate politician who doesn’t mind the Trump strategy of telling lies. Nevertheless, I support Israel but I would support it more if they came to agreement and justice with the Palestinians.

  3. God was responsible for the formation of the USA and Israel. What is his position on the formation of other countries?

  4. Just to clarify: the $38bn is over a 10-year period.

  5. Still $38 billion. I’m in favor of investment but the hyperbole about the last administration is nuts.

  6. Pence delayed that clean-needle program during a state epidemic of HIV and hep, supported gay-conversion therapy, etc. Difficult to imagine supporting such a pathetic, self-righteous mind.

  7. People like Pence are no better than the Taliban. Fully confident that their version is the right version: a danger to us all.

  8. What an uninformed vice president. The Bible’s use “Israel” does not refer to a piece of real estate but rather to a state of G-d Consciousness.

    Also, Zionism and Zionists have not as Pence claims “awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character”but rather have so offended the world with their creeping invasion of Palestine that the world is coming together to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Zionism, Zionists, their products and their platforms.

  9. It is a serious misrepresentation of evangelical theology by Lauren Markoe to say that “Many evangelicals look upon the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 and the “ingathering” of the Jews as a necessary step toward the end times, when they believe Jews will either accept Christianity or face eternal damnation”. Most evangelicals believe that the Jewish Nation will accept Jesus Christ in the end, but they don’t believe that this implies that Judaism will be transformed to what is known as Christianity. They believe instead that Christ will build the Temple of the Messianic Kingdom described and prophecied by Ezechiel (chs. 40-48) and that Israel will be fully restored as a Torah observant nation, with Christ as its King-Messiah.

    Jews don’t have to change their religion when they accept Christ, for Christ didn’t come to found a new religion. He came to be the promised Messiah of the one religion already established by God long before, namely Judaism.

  10. Which came in the form of military equipment sales to Israel. Not giveaways by any stretch of the imagination. In fact such sales wound up endangering Israel’s own arms industry. Considering the reciprocal nature of economic, military and political ties between Israel and the US, it benefits both nations.

  11. Yes but one would reasonably assume that we gave Israel the whole sum in September 2016. I’m sure you didn’t intend to exaggerate the extent of our aid, such aid to foreign nations a contentious issue at home.

  12. I’m confused. Though Israel is required to only buy US arms, we are giving them the money to do so.

  13. There is financing involved as well. Evidently international arms sales are not a “cash only” kind of deal. Also money goes back and forth between the two countries for R&D development. Most notably in pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

  14. Lauren didn’t say anything about Judaism transforming to Christianity, or Jews converting en masse to Christianity. She said the belief is exactly what you said: the Jews will accept Jesus in the end. The rest of your Biblical citations only amplify the point, that in much evangelical theology, not just Jewish people but the modern State of Israel is paramount.
    In any event, most religious Zionists see Israel as an important step toward the messianic era as well. This is expressed in the prayer composed by the first Chief Rabbis of Israel, to bless the State as “the beginning of the emergence of our redemption.”

  15. Your BDS “world coming together” is failing, from Radiohead to the leaders of Hamas. And the computer you typed that on likely had Israeli parts and knowledge behind it.

  16. international arms sales.
    nothing says a loving god and a loving religion like international arm sales.

  17. Surely, sister Lauren Markoe, you could’ve solicited an Evangelical’s rebuttal to these two political statements from V-POTUS Pence at CUFI, knowing that not all Evangelicals are buying into their Christian Zionist ideology. I’ll bet you that the rebuttal would go like this:

    (1) TRUE OR FALSE: “Though Israel was built by human hands it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history lies the hand of heaven”. (US Vice President Mike Pence, annual summit of John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, July 17, 2017)

    FALSE: The same can be said about Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. “The hand of heaven” is even-handed, actually, toward all nations. It’s partial only to God’s Country, a.k.a. the kingdom of God comprising Jesus-serving Jews and Gentiles from every nation, not just Israel and America.

    (2) TRUE OR FALSE: “Ezekiel prophesied, and I quote, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live.’ The state of Israel and her people bear witness to God’s faithfulness as well as their own. How unlikely was Israel’s birth? How more unlikely has been her survival and how confounding against the odds has been her thriving? … The Jewish people have awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character.” (US Vice President Mike Pence, annual summit of John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, July 17, 2017)

    FALSE: That’s the standard hermeneutics of Exekiel 37 that Christian Zionists have weaponized in defense of the continued domination of Israel from 1948 until now, over Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. There’s just one text-related problem with that, however. Exekiel 37 is a Messianic prophecy of the 1000-year reign of Christ Jesus in Israel over planet Earth, that obviously hasn’t been fulfilled yet. If it has, as false prophet John Hagee and brainwashed Vice President Mike Pence have been claiming through their lying teeth, then where has Christ Jesus been all these years in Israel – since 1948 and as the King of the Jews?! And a comparatively minor detail, but where are all the (literally) resurrected Jewish martyrs, as per Ezekiel 37:9, 12 and 24?! – “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life. … I will open your graves and cause you to come out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. … I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land.”

  18. No, no, no, Aliquantillus, “Israel will” NEVER “be fully restored as a Torah observant nation, with Christ” Jesus “as its King-Messiah.” CHRIST OF ANOTHER NAME, MAYBE. But not this Jesus.

    No, no, no, Aliquantillus, “Christ” Jesus NEVER “came to be the promised Messiah of the one religion already established by God long before, namely Judaism.” CHRIST OF ANOTHER NAME, MAYBE. But not this Jesus.

  19. Maybe for the Christian USA but Yahweh was Lord of the Armies, the god of war as the history of the Jews shows.

  20. Before the Obama administration, every administration supported Israel’s right to exist as a nation. This was not news until lately.

  21. People like Pence aren’t nearly as dangerous as the Taliban. You will be taken more seriously if you don’t resort to such hyperbole.

  22. Of course the Obama administration supported Israel’s right to exist as a nation. They just didn’t buy into Netanyahu’s Pax Israeliana the way Trump has. You can support Israel without supporting everything its government does.

  23. The Obama admin did not support Israel as all other admins have. He personally insulted Netanyahu on at least one occasion, and did not support their freedom to defend themselves against their enemies who claim their land does not belong to them and want to displace them.

  24. You Lie.
    Obama wouldn’t put up with Netanyahu authoritarian ways and Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestinians. For decades the USA has given Israel billions of dollars in military and other aid. Now they want more and more.
    Now we have Trump and the GOP who love Netanyahu. Trouble is so many Jews in the USA despise Trump and fear him for the loose cannon Trump is.

    Tell me, what is so wonderful about Trump that the religious right sells its soul to elect him? He certainly isn’t Christian. He’s used evangelical just like he’s used any other group to gain power. “Corinthians Two”, anyone?

  25. I see you’ve moved the goalposts but no matter. All other administrations? You mean like the George H.W. Bush administration’s refusal of loan guarantees to Israel due to then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s pro-settlement policy? Or the Reagan administration’s call for a settlement freeze and consideration of sanctions due to Israel’s action in Lebanon? Or the Nixon administration’s warning Israel not to strike preemptively in 1973, even though Israeli intelligence was warning of an Arab strike, then refusing to resupply Israel once the war began?
    I don’t know if Obama insulted Netanyahu but I wouldn’t mind it much if he did. Netanyahu’s foreign policy will ultimately be bad for Israel, and his internal domestic policy of catering to the ultra-Orthodox at the expense of even the slightest bit of religious pluralism is causing deep discord within the world Jewish community.

  26. unfortunately, it is all to true. Patriarchy is the religion of the planet, whether it’s rightwing/extremist Christianity or bassackwards, violence-prone Islamacists.

  27. You have an incredibly short memory. I’ve said many times that I am not a Trump fan. I’ve also said that I do not assume he is a Christian.
    I did NOT lie. I know people who lived in Lebanon during the initial PLO attacks, and they were in the midst of the horrific attacks on Israel by the PLO.

    They were not Jews, but they said the Jews treated them humanely, unlike the Islamists who are bitter because Israel has her land, and they don’t. That’s the root of the hatred for Israel.

  28. Good grief, you can’t even stick to the subject.

  29. my memory is fine. I remember that you said you are not a fan. But then, why do you support the horrible things Trump is trying to perpetrate? why do you ignore his corrupt administration? do you really believe he’s a ‘baby Christian’ or any kind of Christian.
    It’s the GOP during the Obama administration, not Trump, which enabled Netanyahu to keep murdering Palestinians. But let’s agree not to argue over this. It’s too big a topic and I am glad you hear you supported and know people who are Lebanese who suffered under the PLO.

    As for the mutual, ‘tit-for-tat’ violence. Is it not based, in part, on religion??
    And is Christianity a religion of peace? Or not? Because I can argue long and hard that it is not a religion of peace.

  30. The Taliban are certain in their faith, are they not? Are the Taliban certain about morality, certain about government, certain about the “proper” way others should behave and live their lives? Pence and his ilk are no different. It’s an observation, not hyperbole. I await your empty retort.

  31. Obama disagreed with Bibi and likely didn’t like him, that doesn’t mean Obama didn’t support Israel.

  32. I have not said that I support “horrible things Trump is trying to perpetrate”. Is his administration any more corrupt than Obama’s was? I can’t tell that it’s as corrupt. I was not a Trump fan before he ever ran for president, and I don’t agree with some things he says and does now.

    I don’t know any man’s heart — only God does — so I cannot say that Trump is or is not a Christian. All I can say is that I do support his statements which are in agreement with the Bible, and do not support the ones which aren’t. Same as with anyone else.

    When you say “tit-for-tat violence”, are you referring to Islamist/Jewish conflict? If so, I’ve read a number of books by former Muslims who say that they were taught hatred for Jews from the time they were babies. They say the reason for the conflict is that Israel was given its land back in 1948/9.

    Christ Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Apart from Him there is no real peace in men’s hearts. He said that wars and rumors of wars would characterize this time period in history, and that has certainly come to pass — not because He wills it so, but because the enemy of all men’s souls is constantly seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

  33. ** The Bible’s use “Israel” does not refer to a piece of real estate but rather to a state of G-d Consciousness. **

    This is not true. The whole Bible from Genesis to the books of the NT refers to Israel as the land which the Lord God gave to His people, the Israelites.

  34. Ha, “empty” reveals your bias. You’ve already made up your mind.

    But for the sake of honesty, no, Pence’s certainty in his faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and the Taliban’s certainty about their belief in Islam are not comparable. The source of their faith makes all the difference.

    Do you also equate Buddhism or Hinduism or Shintoism or any other faith with the Taliban’s faith in Islam?

  35. Pointing out my use of the word “empty” is empty, reinforcing my wild prediction that your retort would be empty.

    “The source of their faith makes all the difference.” How convenient. Let me guess: your version of a god is, here it comes, the right one? Make sure you inform the billions of people who believe otherwise, whom have a faith probably stronger than yours. The zenith of emptiness.

    Adhering to an inherited set of beliefs is the problem. Substitute whichever warped version of belief and it rings true.

    I await yet another empty retort.

  36. Don’t blame G-d for the predations of Zionists or for the predations of British settlers in North
    America.

  37. No hyperbole. Just facts. Pence is a scriptural literalist and therefore an extremist.

  38. If you can’t tell from Trump’s words, lack of morals, and behaviors (slumlord, for starters), then you one of the few who can’t see who this man is.

    Yes, Muslims and Jews paint scare their children with lies about the other religion.
    Hatred will never be healed by Hatred. If Jesus is the prince of peace, then he’s not doing a good job.
    P.S. People are not inherently vile and violent. That nonsense comes from the notion of original sin which came into being as a doctrine around the year 400.

  39. Believing the Word of God as it is written does not make one an extremist. It makes one a believer. Mike Pence is a believer.

  40. You ignored my question.

    Do you also equate Buddhism or Hinduism or Shintoism or any other faith with the Taliban’s faith in Islam/Allah?

  41. Not understanding that the Torah/Penteuch is an extended metaphor or, for that matter, that all spiritual messages in scripture are necessarily given in figurative language makes Pence an uneducated literalist and an extremist. In this regard he is no different from ISIS.

  42. It is clear that not all spiritual messages in scripture are given in figurative language. Many / most of them are not. For example, the 600+ laws given to Moses weren’t. Neither were many other scriptures and teachings.

    Of course I’m including the New Covenant (Testament) too, since Pence is a Christian. When he joins ISIS, starts decapitating and stabbing and running people over, I’ll agree with you. Until then, YOU are engaging in irresponsible, extreme demagoguery and should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

    Pence is not uneducated. Believing the Word of God as it is written means one is a believer. Mike Pence is a believer.

  43. I’ve observed Trump for a long time, and anyone who actually knows me knows that I have never liked the man. I’ve never liked the Clintons either, and they would have been back in the White House if he weren’t there now. As with anyone, I support his statements which are in agreement with the Bible, and do not support the ones which aren’t.

    My Lebanese friends went through a LOT during those years. Yes, they were taught all sorts of bizarre things about the Jews, but the daughter said that when they were forced to get medical care at a Jewish hospital, she was shocked to see Jews treating Islamists with compassion and concern. She said the reverse would never have happened. Through a series of events which eventually brought her to the USA, she became a born-again Christian.

    You don’t know Christ Jesus. He doesn’t hate anyone; He IS love. The only thing He hates is sin because it destroys people — the people He loves and gave His life for.

    What did I say about people? What I actually said is that the enemy of all men’s souls is constantly seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

  44. All spiritual messages are necessarily given figurative language because of the constraints of language itself and because of the tendency of people to skim the surface of their reality. As for those “laws”, Mose was figment of someone’s imagination as they wrote the metaphor of the Torah. Those “laws” are only a catalogue of Jewish mores of the time and intended to give credibility to the Torah and Jews

  45. I did answer: “Adhering to an inherited set of beliefs is the problem. Substitute whichever warped version of belief and it rings true.”

    So, whichever warped version = Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shintoism. All these belief systems can’t be right. And it’s laughably likely that none of them is.

    Conviction is the problem, hence the similarity between Pence and the Taliban.

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