Last night, Mike Pence delivered a groundbreaking speech in the Israeli Knesset. His key message: ‘The United States of America stand with Israel and recognize Jerusalem as her capital.’ He explained it with the historic right of the Jewish people to this ancient land.
It was a polarizing speech as well: While Pence was greeted with several standing ovations and repeated applause by the majority of the Jewish MK’s, all 13 members of the “Joint-List” party, an alliance of four Arab-dominated parties, were removed from the plenum. At the beginning of the speech they had held up signs that read: “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine”. Holding up signs in the Knesset is not allowed at any time, according to Knesset rule.
The main statements in Pence’s speech:
- Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and Israel a vibrant democracy.
- The alliance between the US and Israel has never been stronger: “America stands with Israel”.
- The story of the Jewish people is comparable to that of America: It is a story of Exodus – from persecution to freedom by the power of faith.
- Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and they have the natural right to live there.
- The Jewish State was rebuild in 1948 and the Jewish future reclaimed after the terrible sufferings during the Shoah.
- The US is committed to a just and lasting peace in Israel and the Middle East, and will continue to seek dialogue with the Palestinians, as well as fight full force against radical Islamic terrorism in the region.
His arguments were not so much of political, but rather of ethical, historical and religious nature:
- America stands with Israel, because “we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny”.
- Israel is the land of the forefathers of the Jewish people, and Jews have the natural right to return to their homeland: Abraham offered his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, King David consecrated Jerusalem as capital of the Kingdom of Israel in ancient times.
- The sufferings of the Shoah and the many persecutions, inquisitions and pogroms demand and justify the Jewish state.
- The US have “chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace”.
During his speech he repeatedly quoted from the Bible and referred to the Jewish people as “people of the book” – a term used in Judaism for Jews and in Islam for Jews, Christians and some other non-Muslim believers.
He praised the achievements of the Jews in quoting the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams: “Jews have done more to civilize man than any other nation.”
The most sensitive, emotional moment emerged when he referred to the Shoah:
The darkest night, “seven times sealed” (Ellie Wiesel), that “transformed the small faces of children into smoke under a silent sky”.
Out of these ashes the Jewish people “rose up to resurrect themselves” and “reclaim a Jewish future”, “rebuild the Jewish state”.
He further declared:
- The preparations of the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem will begin immediately and the US Embassy will open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019.
- The United States of America “remains fully committed to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
- The US are “not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.”
- “If both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution. “
- The US “strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue.”
- The US “will never compromise the safety and security of the State of Israel.”
- The US, together with their allies, “will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth”.
- The US will help those who suffered under war and terrorism in the Middle East rebuild their communities.
- The US will continue to confront the leading state sponsor of terror – the Islamic Republic of Iran.
US Vice President Mike Pence closed his speech in admiration to the state of Israel and the Jewish people: “You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future” and ended with the words:
“May God bless the Jewish people, may God bless the State of Israel and all who call these lands their home, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
Cover Photo: YouTube/US Embassy in Israel
Watch the full speech of US Vice President Mike Pence here: US Embassy in Israel – Youtube Channel