(RNS) — Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both addressed a Christian pro-Israel group Monday (July 8), lifting up the U.S. ally as a bastion of inclusivity and railing against Iran.
Pence and Pompeo delivered their remarks at the annual summit of Christians United for Israel, a conservative Christian organization led by the Rev. John Hagee, which claims more than 6 million members.
Both politicians used the opportunity to defend the administration and champion what they argued were President Trump’s successes.
Pence spoke first, taking time to push back against recent comments by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comparing detention facilities used to house undocumented immigrants to concentration camps.
“To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage,” Pence said. “This slander was an insult to the 6 million killed in the Holocaust, and it should be condemned by every American of every political party everywhere.”
Pence also framed the United States’ support for Israel in theological terms.
“We stand with Israel because we cherish that ancient promise that Americans have always cherished throughout our history: that those who bless her will be blessed,” Pence said.
The vice president was followed later in the day by Pompeo, who, like Pence, championed the Trump administration’s various actions on Israel, such as recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
“Thank God we have a leader in President Trump and an immovable friend like Israel,” he said, adding that his own job as secretary of state is “to turn that commitment into real action.”
Pompeo also condemned anti-Semitism and echoed other speakers at the conference by arguing that “anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitism. Period. Full stop.”
Similarly, he said the Trump administration had put the United Nations “on notice” for what he called “anti-Israel bias.”
As Pompeo closed, the crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation.
Pence and Pompeo’s religious references resonated with Garmon Smith, a summit attendee from Oklahoma.
“They both are strong Christian men, and they receive what the Bible has to say about blessing Israel,” he said.
Marylin Henretty, who said she got to know Pence and his wife before he became the governor of Indiana, also lauded the appeals to Scripture.
“Mike has always shown up at all the events supporting Israel. What he’s saying we have heard many times,” she said. “We believe what the Bible says concerning Israel. To have a president openly professing that the land belongs to Israel — that’s what Scripture says.”