On January 22, 2018, US Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a full house of the Israeli Knesset. Right at the beginning a group of Knesset members, identified as Palestinian or extreme Leftists, broke out in a noisy protest and were escorted out of the building.
Pence’s speaking style was formal and gentle (in contrast to his President). He made references to the Bible in some fashion repeatedly during the 30 minute address. Some Israeli commentators even mentioned that he spoke more as an evangelical Christian than as a politician, which is part of what made the whole interaction extraordinary.
He started out by affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and America’s steadfast support. He spoke of the Jewish people as the “people of the book” and of the United States as reflected in the thoughts of the Christian “founding fathers”. He spoke of Jerusalem as the site of Abraham’s Moriah and David’s kingdom, again reflecting a speech born of faith-based values more than mere “real-politick.”
He also spoke of commitment to the peace process negotiations, including a potential two-state solution. He mentioned that new alliances are being formed in the Middle East, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia cooperating with the US against Iranian aggression. While committing the United States to fight against the terror-supporting regime in Iran, he called out to the Iranian “good people” to be friends, and that their day of freedom from the oppressive regime was close at hand.
The response of the Knesset members was complex. As mentioned, a small contingent protested. All of the others were astonished at the degree of support and affirmation they were hearing. The moderate left were delighted at that support yet wary of such a deeply conservative agenda. The ultra-orthodox, religious Jews were also delighted at his support yet wary of the fact that he was speaking as a devout believer in Jesus.
All in all the effect of such a refined speech, based on strongly evangelical values, supportive of Israel from a biblical world-view, spoken before Jewish Knesset members, represents a level of friendship and witness never been seen before, as this nation reaches its 70th year.