Mike Pence’s visit to Jerusalem was an unqualified disaster. First he made a speech at the Knesset last Monday that was characterized as a “tent revival sermon” by the Israeli press, and Pence himself was called “Horseman of the Trumpocalypse.” He was accused of not being in touch with the basic nature of where he was really at, instead living in his own fantasy of where he thought he was at. The head of an Israeli non governmental organization said, “The Jerusalem that Pence visited does not exist, but rather [Pence visited] an ‘end-of-days’ Biblical theme park.”
To this mess, add the fact that Pence, ever the evangelical, committed yet another faux pas on International Holocaust Remembrance Day by sending a twitter greeting characterizing the Holocaust in “Christ imagery’ terms. Haaretz:
“Angry replies to his tweet charged that Pence, an evangelical Christian, imposed – consciously or unconsciously – a Christian religious narrative on the tragedy that was disrespectful to the Jews who perished. Critics described it as ‘shameful’ and ’tone-deaf.’
”One wrote: “Are you referring to my Jewish relatives who died or survived in the Holocaust or did we become embroiled into some sort of Jesus analogy?” Another called Pence’s use of the term resurrection “a Christian-tinged euphemism as the word is rarely used out of that specific context” and accused him of “glossing over the fact that they were murdered by saying they were resurrected, just like the Jesus he claims to believe in.“
A few days ago, Karen & I paid our respects at Yad Vashem to honor the 6 million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust who 3 years after walking beneath the shadow of death, rose up from the ashes to resurrect themselves to reclaim a Jewish future. #HolocaustRemembranceDay #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/67UuC1cYI2
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 27, 2018
The “Christianization,” more accurately, “Pence-ization” of the Holocaust struck the wrong chord. “Three years” was taken as an analogy to the three days between Christ’s death and resurrection.
Mike Pence Jesused all of us Jews without our consent. What a smug, condescending fraud. https://t.co/lMMYxKFfLh
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 28, 2018
It’s from *Pence’s* religious perspective that my murdered family members might be resurrected. But they—and I—forcefully reject that cosmology. We don’t believe what he believes. Believe what you want, man, but I’d appreciate it if you could leave 6 million dead Jews out of it.
— Ari Kohen, First of His Name (@kohenari) January 28, 2018
I really thought last year’s thing where they left out the Jews was a Holocaust Remembrance Day low point but Pence has taken this to new places in an amazing way.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 28, 2018
“..rose up from the ashes to resurrect themselves..”?
Maybe next time, Pence should describe the Holocaust as “The Jews’ cross to bear..” https://t.co/QJCprmSFEf
— Mr. Kitzel (@MisterKitzel) January 28, 2018
“Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust did not ‘resurrect themselves.’ They are all dead and most of them not even buried. Mr. Pence should have left out the term ‘resurrect,’ which offended many Jews,” said Rabbi Ron Kronish, an expert on interreligious relations and a library fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.
Kronish added that Pence’s “reference to a Jewish future was very vague and unclear. If he meant that the Holocaust led to the foundation of the Jewish State of Israel, this is blasphemy since it somehow justifies the Holocaust.”
The fact that “many Israeli politicians” often commit this sin themselves, he said, doesn’t make it right. “It would have been better for him to have said nothing about the Holocaust on this occasion if he or his advisers can’t figure out a sensitive and serious way to say it,” concluded Kronish.
Jerusalem has long been described as the “volcanic core” of the Middle East, a locale where competing and seemingly irreconcilable religious and historic narratives vie for supremacy and where Jews, Muslims and Christians co-exist side by side in a never ending struggle for survival. It is a place where angels most likely fear to tread but this fool rushed right in and gave offense. Rabbi Kronish is right, probably more than he knows. If Mike Pence, or other members of the Trump administration don’t have the depth of knowledge about a given situation to make an informed comment, then it would be best if they remain silent rather than throw gasoline onto situations which are already inflamed.