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Pence’s Misguided Mideast Trip

Mike Pence will be visiting the Holy Land and Egypt later this month, but none of the local Christians will have anything to do with him:

Palestinian officials have pressured local church leaders not to welcome Pence, encouraging them to take the same stance as the Egyptian Coptic Christian church whose pope announced his refusal to meet with the U.S. vice president due to the Jerusalem decision.

It is not surprising that the leaders of the local Christian churches in Egypt and Palestine won’t meet with Pence in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The decision was just as much an affront to them, and so they understandably have no desire to be seen meeting with a representative of our government. The heads of the various churches in Jerusalem appealed to the president not to make that decision in the days leading up to it:

The patriarchs and heads of the main churches in Jerusalem on Wednesday delivered a last-minute plea to US President Donald Trump, urging him not to change US policy toward Jerusalem for fear this could cause “irreparable harm.”

Their appeal was predictably ignored. Dismissing the concerns and neglecting the interests of native Christians throughout the region has been one of the enduring flaws in U.S. policy in this part of the world for decades, and it is most noticeable in the one-sided approach to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Trump administration panders to some of its supporters here at home at the expense of Christians in the Holy Land, and it barely registers anymore because it is what everyone has come to expect from the U.S. These snubs are just the first of many that the administration will experience as a result of Trump’s ill-considered, harmful recognition of Jerusalem, and they are among the first of the destructive effects that the recognition is having on America’s reputation throughout the region.

Pence’s visit as a whole is misguided, and coming on the heels of Trump’s announcement its timing could hardly be worse. The vice president is one of the most ardent “pro-Israel” hawks in his party, so sending him to this part of the world right now is akin to pouring salt on a fresh wound. His trip drives home how insincere the administration’s claims to advance the cause of peace are.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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