Was former chief rabbi of UK behind Mike Pence's Knesset speech?

Former Chief Rabbi of UK says he was consulted by VP Pence for his Knesset address, calls it a 'great tribute to the Jewish people'.

David Rosenberg ,

Mike Pence addresses Knesset
Mike Pence addresses Knesset
Gil Yochanan/Flash90

Was a senior rabbi from the UK responsible for writing US Vice President Mike Pence’s historic address to the Knesset earlier this week?

A report by Israeli media outlets Tuesday created a stir after unnamed White House officials were cited saying that former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks had played an instrumental role in “crafting” the Vice President’s speech.

The address, which was hailed by Israeli leaders but reviled by Palestinian Authority leaders as “messianic”, included a pledge to bar Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and a time-table for the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During his address, Pence hailed the US-Israel alliance, and pointed to the cultural ties between the US and the Jewish state.

"In the story of Jews, we have always seen the story of America. Our founders turned to the Hebrew Bible for direction," Pence said. "Tomorrow, when I stand at Yad Vashem, we will marvel at the faith and resilience of your people, who rose up from the ashes to resurrect yourselves and rebuild the Jewish state."

"Seventy years ago, the US was the first to recognize Israel, but since then, one administration after another refused to recognize its capital. Last month, US President Donald Trump righted an historical wrong when he declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Rabbi Sacks, who served as Chief Rabbi of the UK for over two decades before stepping down in 2013, was named by Israeli media outlets a day after Pence’s Knesset address, citing White House officials who claimed he played a pivotal role in drafting the speech.

On Thursday, however, a spokesman for the rabbi played down his role in the drafting of the address, saying that the rabbi had merely offered “guidance” during an hour-and-a-half meeting with Pence.

Dan Sacker, Rabbi Sacks’ spokesman, told The Guardian that the former Chief Rabbi had a “positive and productive” 90-minute meeting with Pence in New York. During that meeting, Pence consulted Rabbi Sacks for the sections of his address concerning the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

“[The meeting] centered around how best to frame elements of the speech – in particular the biblical and historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and the American and Jewish stories,” Sacker said.