Saunders: In speech to Knesset, Pence earns Israelis’ praise

The vice president won admiration from Israel’s left and right for his authenticity.

By Debra J. Saunders

JERUSALEM — When Vice President Mike Pence wrapped up his address to Israel’s Knesset, a voice in the 120-member legislative body shouted out, “God bless you, Mr. Vice President.” The voice belonged to Yehuda Glick, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party.

It was not all love. Members of the Knesset who are part of the Joint List (an alliance of Arab-dominated parties) boycotted or protested Pence’s speech to protest President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. When Pence announced the embassy transfer would occur before the end of 2019, Joint List members shouted and displayed signs that proclaimed Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine before ushers ejected them.

When Pence said the administration would support a two-state solution “if both sides agree,” some Knesset members applauded, others did not. Netanyahu did not.

And yet with that disagreement in the air, Pence won praise outside the right. Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition Labor Party lauded Pence’s “moral clarity” and “brave deeds” in Israel’s defense, such as Pence’s opposition to the political movement to boycott Israel. This, even though Pence declined to meet with Herzog during the visit, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. (The meeting did not fit in Pence’s schedule, a source in the vice president’s office explained.)

Pence spoke of the common bonds shared by America’s pilgrims and Jews who came to Israel in “the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope.” He also referred to the Jewish people’s bond with Jerusalem going back for 3,000 years.

Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief for CBNNews, noted that many Israeli Jews “are very excited that Mike Pence, as an evangelical Christian, would come and reaffirm the biblical roots of the Jewish state as he did in the Knesset.”

While Trump also refers to his Christian faith, Pence has an authenticity when he talks about the Bible that the president cannot match. (During the 2016 campaign, Trump famously botched his Bible talk when he referred to a verse in “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians” — a mistake Pence would not make.)

Middle Eastern Christian leaders would not meet with Pence, as they, too, object to Trump’s Dec. 6 Jerusalem announcement. Pence did not let that get in his way.

Pence is a good pick for foreign trips, noted Reno, Nevada’s Ty Cobb, a foreign policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan now with the National Security Forum. That’s because “the president himself draws such enormous reactions, both positive and mostly negative,” he said.

But Pence’s Knesset speech was a hit. The Jerusalem Post editorialized, “What moved more than a few listeners to ears was Pence’s utter lack of cynicism.”

Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth called it “the speech Israel has been waiting to hear for 70 years.”

The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller wrote in Politico that Pence “spent less than 48 hours in Israel saying literally everything Israelis want to hear.” And, he added, “Israeli newspapers ran the remarks in full.”

Email Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @DebraJSaunders.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Aug. 11

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Editorial: Debate regarding Snake River dams is far from over

If we are to avoid the extinction of salmon runs and orcas, talks regarding the dams should continue.

Commentary: TV has reinforced ambition as bad trait for women

Criticisms of women on Biden’s veep list echo scripts that insist women must deny presidential hopes.

Commentary: Improper spending has left NRA out of ammo

Having to draw from its foundation to keep its doors open, the now-diminished gun lobby faces its end.

Harrop: Every country made mistakes; we didn’t learn from ours

While European nations took a bigger hit economically, they’re better able to recover now than the U.S.

Mask scofflaws are encouraging spread of virus

Covid is spreading faster than the lies and misinformation coming out of… Continue reading

Rules confusing for objections on county planning commission

For residents of the county who are interested in land use issues,… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Aug. 10

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Editorial: Release of weekly list of deaths should resume

The county health district no longer provides the list to The Herald; but it’s misinterpreting the law.

Most Read