When President Donald Trump traveled to Davos last week, the second foreign head of government he met with was Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. When the expected groveling before Bibi was concluded the rest of the world learned that Trump is right on board the Netanyahu bandwagon when it comes to making sure that the Palestinians somehow disappear. Trump flat-out lied in asserting that “I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” a line that comes straight out of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs playbook, but drew a frown from Bibi when he suggested there might actually have to be some concessions from both sides to reach an agreement. Netanyahu does not do concessions.
President Trump, who has no coherent Middle Eastern policy apart from abject deference to Israel, was particularly miffed because the Palestinians had “disrespected” Mike Pence on his visit to the region earlier in the week. They had refused to meet with the U.S. Vice President over the issue of Israel’s claimed sovereignty in all of Jerusalem, which the Administration endorsed and claims to have “taken off the [negotiating] table.”
In response to the Palestinian affront, Trump threatened to cut any aid going to Ramallah unless its leaders get their pathetic asses back to participate in U.S. brokered negotiations where everyone can sit around and talk while the Israelis systematically devour what is left of the West Bank. “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said. Someone should have told The Donald that U.S. assistance goes largely to pay and train a Palestinian police force that works hand-in-hand with the Israeli occupiers to prevent attacks on Israelis. But hey, being president means you never have to say you’re sorry when you screw things up.
Trump has already cut in half the money going to United Nations relief efforts helping Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in camps seventy years after the Jews stole their homes. Donald Trump is right of course. Why throw money at ragheads when you can instead suck up to the infinitely more powerful and wealthy world Jewry that the sly and slimy Netanyahu claims to represent?
Meanwhile back at home multiple moves are underway to get rid of Trump, ranging from declaring him mentally incompetent to impeachment for perjury or for lack of good manners. I would like to see him go due to his sheer fecklessness, particularly if he can take Mattis, McMaster, Pompeo, Tillerson and Haley with him. But there is a serious fly in the ointment, namely what would come next? The answer is President Mike Pence.
Mike Pence caught some heat during the campaign because of some of his idiosyncrasies like “never eat[ing] alone with a woman other than his wife.” Whether that was true because of the apparently overwhelming sexual urges that seem to afflict nearly all congressmen and Hollywood producers, or because of something in the Bible, or even to avoid possible allegations of misbehavior, was not at all clear.
And speaking of the Bible, Pence is both a Christian fundamentalist and a dispensationalist, which means that he thinks every word in the Good Book is literally true and that Christianity is going through phases or dispensations that will lead to the rapture of true believers into heaven followed by the wrath of God descending on those who refuse to see the light.
The odd thing about people like Pence is that they stick like glue to their Scofield Reference Bibles but apparently rarely venture into the New Testament part with its talk of compassion and forgiveness. They much prefer the fire and brimstone in the Jewish part with Joshua smiting and Philistines (Palestines?) falling left and right. Pence and his co-believers, who are sometimes labeled Christian Zionists, consider Jews to be the Chosen People of God and Israel’s creation and survival are all part of the master plan that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. The re-creation of a Jewish state and the gathering in of as many of the world’s Jews as possible is seen as a critical step to achieve the Second Coming of Christ, which Pence and his associates fervently hope will occur soon. At that point, it is assumed that the Jews will realize that Christ is truly their Messiah and will mass-convert. If they do not they will be consumed in fire like all the other unbelievers.
Well, Pence is undeniably a true believer in the worst way, but he can choose to believe whatever he likes. The problem with him is that, given his senior role in the government, his firmly held religious beliefs are no longer a personal issue. They inevitably have political, economic and national security consequences for all Americans, not just for those who see things as he does. Only 20% of Americans actually go to church and of those only a portion are aligned with Pence on what Christianity means, suggesting that his is a minority viewpoint within a minority viewpoint.
Pence’s views on the Middle East as influenced by his particular religiosity were on full display during his recent trip to Israel, a country that he has visited eight times. The Vice President’s speech before the Knesset first required the removal of all Arab members of that body, who had loudly expressed their disapproval of what they knew was coming.
Pence was applauded frequently by those who remained, particularly when he praised Israel effusively or damned Iran. Ironically perhaps, no one in the audience seemed to be too disturbed by the ultimate meaning of his evangelical fervor in that the End of Days and battle of Armageddon that he looks forward to will also be the end for Jews who do not convert, a point that was commented on drily by the Haaretz newspaper. But the gathering was really all about Pence expressing his personal commitment to unlimited and uncritical support by Washington for Israel, so theological niceties were politely ignored.
The speech itself explains what a Pence presidency would look like in regards to the Middle East. He began with the usual sucking-up to one’s hosts that politicians are so good at, “…I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done…”
The scary thing is that Pence likely believes his own rhetoric. It would be hard to compress so much nonsense into a few sentences without looking completely ridiculous, but Pence in his zealotry seeks to convey a measure of rectitude relating to a whole basket of untruths without even breathing hard. First of all, the American people have never endorsed the relationship with Israel in any way and do not “stand with Israel” out of any conviction. Recent opinion polls suggest that most Americans are quite ambivalent about Israel and what it represents in spite of having been on the receiving end of more than fifty years of incessant propaganda extolling falsely “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
In truth, the Israeli special relationship is something that has been created and fostered by a corrupted-by-cash political class and a Jewish dominated media supported by a powerful and unscrupulous domestic Lobby backed up by an oligarchy of Jewish-Zionist billionaires. This line-up has created a national myth about Israel that could have been scripted by Leon Uris of Exodus fame.
As for values and causes, Americans would be appalled if they were to witness the misery inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis. Right over wrong? Good over evil? Where is the justice for the Palestinians in that Israel’s government is itself evil, an apartheid state that denies benefits to its own citizens if they adhere to the wrong religion. Tyranny? That’s what occurs in the West Bank and in the strangling of Gaza every single day, to include the beating and shooting of children and legless protesters.
And Pence even had a crumb to throw to the audience back at home regarding the impending move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying “Our president made his decision, in his words, ‘In the best interests of the American people.’” Sure Mike, shifting the U.S. Embassy was an astute move made by a completely ignorant chief executive at the urging of an Israeli citizen billionaire contributor named Sheldon Adelson, who owns lots of casinos, backed up by the president’s son-in-law and a bunch of Orthodox Jewish advisers. Lots of real American interest there. It was a move that brings absolutely no benefit to the United States, quite the contrary, and which has, pari passu, made American travelers and businessmen even more hated overseas, turning them into targets for terrorism.
And then there is Iran… “the leading state sponsor of terror…a brutal dictatorship…seeking to dominate the Arab world…devoted more than $4 billion to malign activities in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere…supported terrorist groups that even now sit on Israel’s doorstep…and, worst of all, the Iranian regime has pursued a clandestine nuclear program.” It is all another bowl of porridge. Iran has voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons program and was fighting ISIS in Syria. It is seen as a threat by neighbors like the Israelis and Saudis who have their own hegemonic ambitions. And if the poor Israelis have terrorist groups on their doorstep it is because they invited them there through their completely cynical support of al-Qaeda and ISIS in neighboring Syria.
Regarding Iran, Pence concluded to rapturous applause that “President Trump has said that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.” So, terminating a diplomatic success story and virtually guaranteeing that Iran will go nuclear, no doubt followed by Egypt and the Saudis, is seen by Pence and the Knesset as a good outcome because it is what Israel wants. Of course, the real intention on Netanyahu’s part is to go to war with the Iranians with the United States doing the fighting, so no wonder he’s smiling. Nice one Mike.
Pence concluded with “The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.” Excuse me, but an openly racist Israel is hardly inspiring with its persistent playing of the victim card while it cynically exploits Washington to provide it with money, arms and political cover. And it is also no actual ally of the U.S., has never sent its soldiers to fight alongside Americans, and is hardly even a friend as evidenced by its record of interfering in U.S. domestic politics to receive billions of dollars annually from the American taxpayer. And nor would its recurrent theft of U.S.-developed high tech and defense secrets stand much scrutiny. But Mike was most likely not briefed on all that stuff, besides which, he probably received instructions on cherishing Israel directly from God.
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]nionline.org.