Washington's two co-warriors in chief, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence recently found themselves sharing the podium at the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) summit in Washington, D.C. The attendance at this event by these three headlining gentlemen shows us how important Donald Trump values his pro-Israeli evangelical Christian base. At this event, all three men gave rousing speeches that included comments on the ever present boogeyman in the room, Iran, the existential enemy of Israel. In this posting, I will provide you with key excerpts from all three speeches, showing how Washington is playing into Israel's narrative of Iran.
Let's start with the Vice President. Here is what Mike Pence had to say about Iran to his Israel-friendly Christian audience:
"And let me assure you, while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, you can be confident of this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)
In the wake of all those actions, finally the President also made one other promise. He promised to stand up to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. And he did just that when he withdrew the United States of America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. (Applause.) There will be no more pallets of cash to the mullahs in Iran. (Applause.)
Now, Pastor Hagee mentioned that I served in the Congress of the United States. I was on the Foreign Affairs Committee. And back when I was in the Congress, there was actually a bipartisan group of members of Congress who brought together sanctions on Iran, years ago. And those sanctions were isolating a regime that was — and bringing tremendous pressure on it.
But, in 2015, we all remember, when the Iran nuclear deal was signed, all of that pressure went away.
The previous administration’s so-called deal didn’t prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It simply delayed it for roughly a decade. In exchange, the deal gave away billions of dollars in cash and sanctions relief that Iran has used to fund more terrorist attacks on innocents across the region.
President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, and we have re-imposed every last sanction that was lifted. (Applause.)
And under this President, we’ve implemented a maximum-pressure campaign to change Iran’s malign behavior and hold the regime accountable for its destructive actions. It’s remarkable to think that, as we speak, our actions are already having an effect. They’re cutting off the regime’s ability to support their terrorist minions across the Middle East.
The Iranian economy is reeling under unprecedented U.S. sanctions. And now — now Iran must choose between caring for its people and continuing to fund its proxies who spread violence and terrorism throughout the region and breathe out murderous hatred against Israel.
Over the last several months, despite promises and hopes to the contrary in 2015, Iran has been even increasing more of their malign activity and violence in the region. We’ve all witnessed it. Last month, Iran attacked tankers passing near the Strait of Hormuz, and they downed an unmanned American drone.
And last week, Iran exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it can have. Today — today, it actually proclaimed it was going to start enriching uranium beyond the levels permitted by the agreement."
He then went on to discuss his trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, reminding his audience that another holocaust could lie in wait, just around the corner, thanks to malign actors like Iran.
Now, let's look at what Mike Pompeo had to say. Here is a video of his entire speech:
Here are some key excerpts:
"This administration has made a real effort to protect Christians and other threatened religious minorities in Iraq and elsewhere, and we’re making real progress. (Applause.) The flame of existence of Christians must not be snuffed out. Their unalienable rights – Christians’ unalienable rights in the Middle East – their right to worship must not be taken away. (Applause.)
Persecution of the faithful is especially intense inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. The regime’s militant adherence to the noxious tenets of the Islamic Revolution dictates all elements of life – and especially the suppression of other faiths.
In Iran, if Muslims try to convert non-Muslims, the penal code calls for a death sentence.
The government does not recognize converts to Christianity. It levies beatings and solitary confinement on Christians caught worshiping in violation of government dictates.
Last year, an Iranian court upheld a 10-year prison sentences on four Iranian Christians who were “acting against national security” by, quote, “promoting Zionist Christianity,” end of quote, and running house churches. This is something we know in America.
Instead, instead of following the normal summons procedure, authorities raided their homes, beat them, and used electroshock weapons on them. They then threw them into Evin Prison – a regime dungeon inside of Tehran.
Every day I pray, and I’d ask you too, to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iran – and not just for them, but people of all faiths who are persecuted there in Iran. (Applause.)
I’m from Kansas, and there are – yeah, I love it, we’ve got Kansans out there. I’m sure there’s more and you’re just quiet people. (Laughter.) A lot of people get spun up with the wrong ideas that American evangelicals want to impose a theocracy on America. I wish they would be concerned about the real theocratic takeover that has been happening in Iran for the last four decades. (Applause.) The ayatollahs have grievously deprived the Iranian people of that most basic, simple, fundamental right, their right to worship.
That same twisted, intolerant doctrine that fuels persecution inside Iran has also led the ayatollah and his cronies to cry out, quote, “death to Israel” for four decades now. This is similar to a cry that came out of Iran – then called Persia ‒ many, many years ago. The Book of Esther teaches us about this. It was in the 5th century B.C. There was a wicked advisor named King Xerxes. A fellow named Haman hatched a plot to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire. He secretly wrote letters with the king’s seal to all the provincial governors, ordering the people to rise up and attack the Jews. This edict, once issued, could not be revoked. But thanks to the courageous intervention of Queen Esther, who begged the king to show mercy to her people, Haman’s plot was exposed and the Jews were ultimately spared. Today this marks the Jewish holiday of Purim and it commemorates this amazing miracle. (Applause.)
I wanted to tell this story today for a couple of reasons, because similar threats to the Jewish people have marked other eras as well – think of the Roman devastation of Jerusalem, the vicious pogroms throughout European history, and the Holocaust. The Jews have had a target on their back in every era of history. And as the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is [indeed] nothing new under the sun.”
But thank God. Thank God we have a leader in President Trump – an immovable friend of Israel. (Applause.) His commitment, his commitment – President Trump’s commitment is the strongest in history, and it’s been one of the best parts of my job to turn that commitment into real action. (Applause.)
You know the stories, but we’ve implemented the strongest pressure campaign in history against the Iranian regime, and we are not done. (Applause.)
We’ve cut off billions in funds that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s leadership would have used for various nefarious purposes, not the least of which would have been their efforts to destroy the state of Israel.
It is also the case that under President Trump, the Israel haters such as Hamas and Hizballah and Islamic Jihad receive far less blood money from Iran to pursue their terrorism than ever in recent history. (Applause.)"
While some of John Bolton's comments were cut off on this recording, here is a 20 minute-long video of his speech:
Here are some key excerpts:
"I am here to tell you today, President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran is working. (Applause) A little over a year ago, our critics predicted we couldn’t do it. Our unilateral sanctions, they said, would not be effective. Since then, the United States has levied the toughest ever sanctions on the Iranian regime and Iran’s economy is, to quote the Financial Times, “collapsing under their weight.” (Applause)…
As I said earlier this year in Miami, under this administration no regime that chants “Death to America” or “Death to Israel” will get a deal from this administration. (Loud Applause) We will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear program and ends its violent activities across the Middle East, including conducting and supporting terrorism around the world."
In case you haven't heard enough from the 2019 edition of CUFI, here is a three hour and forty-five minute video of some of the speeches given:
Since these three men represent America's Christian community, Israel's very best friends forever, let's close with this brief look at what the Bible has to say about the topic of peace. Various forms of the word "peace" are used 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible. One of the best known verses that invokes peace is found in Matthew 5:9 as follows:
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God."
Two other pertinent verses that invoke peace are found as follows:
"Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14
"So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." Romans 14:19
These three gentlemen who are being used to solidify the electoral support of America's Christian right seem to have forgotten that one of the key tenets of Christianity is the concept of peace. Their "turning of plowshares into swords", particularly when it comes to Iran, stands in complete opposition to what they claim to believe in their religious lives. That, to me, is a prime example of "Cafeteria Christianity" where one picks and chooses what they believe.
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