Former Vice President Mike Pence touted the Trump-Pence administration’s record on Israel in a speech before the Israel Heritage Foundation, choosing to highlight the pro-Israel similarities he shared with former President Donald Trump, rather than the acrimonious differences between the two, who may soon be vying for the Republican presidential nomination.
“While our administration did not end well, I will always be proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration, and I will never stop fighting for the values that we advanced, especially with our most cherished ally, Israel,” said Pence, in a speech Wednesday for the group at a Manhattan restaurant.
The “did not end well” comment was an apparent reference to Trump and Pence losing their reelection bid in 2020, Trump’s failed attempts to challenge the election results, and some of Trump’s supporters rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, while Pence, as president of the Senate, refused to accede to Trump’s calls that he not certify the election results. Trump allegedly said Pence “deserved” the chants of the rioters to “Hang Mike Pence.”
Pence, a conservative Catholic from Indiana who previously served as governor and Congressman, humorously described the moment he received the call from Trump, a histrionic New York real estate magnate and reality star, told Pence he’d been chosen as Trump’s running mate, which Pence called, “the greatest honor of my life.”
“The phone rang and I picked it up and I heard that very familiar voice, and he said,” recalled Pence, launching into an imitation of Trump, “’Mike, it’s going to be great.’ He started talking, he said, ‘You know what, we’re going to have to work, you’re going have to go north, I’ll go south, you go east I’ll go west, … but we can win this thing.’ He went on for like five to seven minutes without taking a breath. And then when he did, I finally said … ’Well Donald, if there’s a question in there, the answer is yes.’ You know what, it was great. We not only won an election in 2016, but it was my great honor to be part of the most pro-Israel administration in the history of the United States of America.”
The Israel Heritage Foundation was established by Holocaust survivors in 1974, originally under the name “Ayshel Avraham.” Today, under executive director Dr. Joseph Frager, a New York physician, the Israel Heritage Foundation describes its mission as “to keep the hopes and dreams of those Holocaust survivors alive” by supporting the state of Israel including Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, encouraging aliyah, combatting antisemitism by “showing Israel authentically,” and establishing “genuine peace through Israel’s good deeds and innovation.”
Pence spent nearly the entire 15-minute speech focusing on his administration’s pro-Israel record.
“We acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, we removed the United States from the U.N. Human Rights Council for its blatant anti-Israel bias, we shut down the PLO office in Washington D.C., we issued the strongest executive order ever written to combat antisemitism on campuses across the country, and we banned taxpayer dollars from any institution of higher education that trafficked in antisemitic hate. We withdrew from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, and we isolated Iran as never before,” said Pence.
But most of all, he highlighted the administration’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recalling how he spoke about the embassy move before the Knesset, and that “I will have no greater honor in my life.”
Then, discussing opposition to Israel, particularly among the far-left of the Democratic Party, Pence said, “These are uncertain times in the relationship between the United States and Israel. But I want to assure you, whatever rhetoric may come out of certain extreme voices in the Congress of the United States, in the Democratic Party, whatever softening or lessening of enthusiasm for Israel in the current administration,” and cited the verse from Kings II, Chapter 6, where the Prophet Elisha tells his attendant, who sees horses and chariots prepared to attack ancient Israel, “Have no fear, for those who are with us are more numerous than those who are with them.”
“And if this small town boy from a little town in rural Indiana is an encouragement to you, I want to assure you many more are with us than are with them,” Pence said, “And may it ever be so that America would bless Israel, so help us G-d,” a reference to the title of his new book, “So Help Me G-d.”
Pence is among those expected to throw their hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. According to polls compiled by poling aggregator 538, most polls show Pence polling in single digits, behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (who has not yet declared for the race), and in some polls also behind former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
As Pence exited the restaurant, this reporter asked whether he will run for president. Pence did not reply.
article originally published in Hamodia on Feb 26, 2023