25 August 2020   Leave a comment

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is slated to give a speech to the Republican National Convention endorsing the re-election of US President Trump. This type of partisan political activity is highly unusual for any State Department official, let alone the most prominent US diplomat. The practice of not participating in political activity is based upon pretty straightforward logic: the State Department is supposed to speak for all Americans when interacting with other states. But the practice is also official policy of the State Department, as evidenced by a memo approved by Pompeo himself in December of 2019:

“This memorandum outlines the current restrictions on political activities that apply to all presidential and political appointees, including Foreign Service and Civil Service career employees serving in such positions. This guidance reflects the provisions of the Hatch Act (the
federal statute governing political activities by federal employees), government-wide regulations implementing that Act, and State Department policies. The Department has a long-standing
policy of limiting participation in partisan campaigns by its political appointees in recognition of the need for the U.S. Government to speak with one voice on foreign policy matters. The combination of Department policy and Hatch Act requirements effectively bars you from
engaging in partisan political activities while on duty, and, in many circumstances, even when you are off duty.”

Pompeo will be using Israel as a campaign prop in order to flatter Christian evangelicals who regard Israel’s presence in the city of Jerusalem as a prerequisite to the second coming of Christ. The Trump Administration has made many concessions to Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians, most notably moving the US Embassy from the city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the eastern part of which the Palestinians have designated as the capital of their hoped-for state. Mimi Kirk explains this position in terms of “Christian Zionism”:

“Trump’s embassy move was controversial—but the two speakers who opened and closed the ceremony were equally controversial. Two evangelical Christian megachurch pastors from Texas who advise Trump, Robert Jeffress and John Hagee, earnestly prayed and thanked God for making the state of Israel possible and Trump for having the courage to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people.

“’Father, we are…grateful as we think about [the founding of the state of Israel in 1948], when you fulfilled the prophecies of the prophets from thousands of years ago and regathered your people in this promised land,’ intoned Jeffress, while Hagee identified Jerusalem as the city ‘where Messiah will come and establish a kingdom that will never end.’

“As Christian Zionists—Hagee is the founder of the main US Christian Zionist organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and Jeffress regularly preaches the ideology on Fox news—the two men’s remarks reflect their belief that the modern state of Israel is the result of biblical prophecy. This belief centers around the idea that 4,000 years ago God promised the land to the Jews, who will rule it until Jesus’ return to Jerusalem and the rapture. Not all will benefit from this end of times scenario: While Christians will be saved and ‘live forever with Christ in a new heaven and earth,’ those adhering to other religions who do not convert to Christianity will be sent to hell.”

Pompeo’s speech is an affront to all Americans who do not wish the world to think that the US supports Israel without reservation. It is an affront to all Americans who do not want the world to think that all Americans support Trump or that supporting Trump is a precondition for acceptance in US politics.

Posted August 25, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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