Listening to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s address to the Knesset last week was a euphoric experience. Pence is a devout evangelical Christian who regards America’s religious commitment as a crucial component of the administration’s policy. He genuinely believes that God will bless those who bless Israel.
President Donald Trump’s deputy affirmed the United States’ love of Israel, based on our biblical and historical vision and the spiritual bonds we share.
He stressed that the administration still sought a peace settlement but asserted that ultimately, the parties must negotiate directly with each other. As Trump pointed out, the days of free lunches are over and the Palestinians will no longer be able to take for granted that the billions of dollars of U.S. aid would continue pouring in to support them. More importantly, the entire U.N. Relief and Works Agency operation was being reviewed on the suspicion that vast funds were being spent on incitement and that no effort had been made to integrate the refugees and their descendants – but instead, they had been exploited in the fight against Israel.
The Trump administration’s policy is a stark contrast to that of the Barack Obama era when at best Israel and the Palestinians were portrayed as morally equivalent, even as Abbas praised and rewarded killers and their families.
This was accompanied by pledges of support and renewed commitments to open a Jerusalem embassy next year.
He also guaranteed that the U.S. would never acquiesce to a nuclear-armed Iran.
No American leader has ever spoken to or about Israel this way. It signaled the end of the daylight Obama created between the U.S. and Israel. It was thus apt of Pence to recite the Shehecheyanu blessing, thanking God for granting us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this occasion.
Setting aside the Joint Arab List MKs who were ejected from the Knesset for creating a disturbance and the Meretz representatives who remained seated, almost the entire Knesset gave him repeated standing ovations. Aside from the visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi, it was the first display of near-total unity in the Knesset toward a foreign statesman since the nation’s division over the Oslo Accords.
The overwhelming majority of Israelis feel cautiously optimistic about the new administration’s policy toward Israel and especially the visit of Pence.
Not so among American Jewry, where polls suggest that 42% (initially including Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs) opposed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, considering it harmful to the peace process. That 70% voted against Trump is no excuse for such behavior, which amounts to contempt for Israel’s interests.
Their attitude remained unchanged even after Abbas refused to meet Pence and made it clear that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In a series of anti-Semitic speeches, Abbas cursed the Balfour Declaration, warned of massive terror attacks and lashed out against Trump, insisting that he would not have any future dealings with the administration or Israel until the recognition of Israel’s capital was reversed. Trump responded that Jerusalem was off the table. Needless to say, to the outrage of the delusional Left, Pence also failed to describe the duplicitous Abbas as a “peace partner.”
The Israel media’s reaction was astonishing. With the exception of Israel Hayom, it abounded with columns minimizing and mocking Pence’s address.
Haaretz, which despises the Trump administration, described Pence’s speech as “bombast” and accused him of promoting messianic evangelical Zionism and being more Zionist than Israelis.
The Jerusalem Post’s political correspondent (in contrast to Herb Keinan’s excellent analysis) dismissed the importance of the Pence visit, comparing it to a recent trip by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Another Jerusalem Post columnist claimed that Trump, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and now Pence had given Israel a “get out of jail free” card that would encourage intransigence and not make it “search for ways to move forward.”
One might ask those calling on Israel to “move forward” to elaborate. The implication is that the worse Abbas becomes, the more concessions we should provide, thereby appeasing those seeking our destruction.
Instead of commending Pence for distinguishing between good and evil, the Israeli media condemned him for casting blame on the Palestinians and not on Israel. While Israel has made mistakes, to suggest that both parties are equally at fault and morally equivalent is utter distortion.
For the first time since our independence, the American leadership is willing to tell the truth and expose the evil emanating from the Palestinians and their allies.
They have ceased repeating the mantra of equivalence between those striving for peace and those inciting to bloodshed.
This is truly a sea change; we should unite to take advantage of this situation which, given the turbulence of American politics, cannot be guaranteed to last forever.
Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. Email: email@example.com.