Thursday marks Purim, a Jewish holiday to commemorate Queen Esther and her fight to save Israel.
And in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, chose to mark the occasion by suggesting that Trump is, in fact, a modern-day Queen Esther who could have been chosen by God to save Israel from Iran.
“Jews worldwide and in Jerusalem are talking about the fact that Esther 2,500 years ago saved the Jewish people, with God’s help, from Haman,” the interviewers asked him. “And now, 2,500 years later, there’s a new Haman here in the Middle East that wants to eradicate the Jewish people just like Hama did: the state of Iran. Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?”
“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” said Pompeo. “It was remarkable … to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”
This is an appallingly reckless thing for America’s highest-ranking diplomat to say — not to mention incredibly arrogant to entertain the notion, which has been suggested by other right-wing evangelical leaders like pastor Robert Jeffress, that Trump was somehow tasked with God. It wasn’t God that picked Trump — it was an antiquated 200-year-old electoral system that overturned the majority decision of U.S. voters.
But Pompeo’s attitude is not altogether surprising. He subscribes to a radical end-times version of the Bible that holds the faithful will be “raptured” into Heaven to mark the end of the world — and has routinely applied this belief to his political views and his approach to foreign policy. Many adherents of rapture theology support Israel not out of any particular love for the Jewish people, but because they believe Jewish control of the Holy Land is prophecized to bring about the end times.
While the United States has supported the modern Israeli state since its establishment in 1948, the Trump administration has dramatically shifted U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Trump moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, upending the international consensus that a permanent two-state solution would first need to be reached so Israel and Palestine could jointly share the city as their capital. This week, he also announced his intention to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Middle East security expert Ilan Goldenberg blasted as harmful to both U.S. and Israeli interests in return for boosting right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate re-election prospects.
The diplomats overseeing this situation need to use a level head. If the Secretary of State sees Trump in terms of Biblical prophecy, that is clearly not the case.