Was it the Vice President of the United States or an evangelical preacher? It’s hard to tell from listening to the speech, full of biblical quotes, that Mike Pence delivered Monday to the Knesset. Or perhaps he is both one and the other—which is not so strange in the era of Donald Trump, in which international agreements are not worth the paper they’re printed on and religion is used as a blunt instrument.
For an ultra-nationalist and religious government like that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was a duty, not to mention a pleasure, to welcome Pence just as warmly as it had welcomed Trump last May, if not even warmer. Pence was one of the main architects of the declaration by which the White House recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6.
“It is fitting that you are the first American vice president to speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “Fitting, because no American vice president has had a greater commitment to Israel and its people.” Pence was quick to return the compliment: It is a “great honor” and “privilege” to be “in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.”