Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has emerged as the man who played a key role in writing US Vice-President Mike Pence’s speech to the Israeli Parliament this week.
Sacks, a prolific author and world-renowned ethics commentator, was confirmed as having been “instrumental” in crafting the speech by sources with close knowledge of the issue, according to Times of Israel.
Pence made headlines around the world after telling cheering Israeli politicians that the Trump administration would fast-track the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “by the end of next year”.
Officials have now said Sacks played a key role in what was said, in a speech laden with policy statements and biblical references, and which brought a protest from Arab Israeli politicians.
“Rabbi Sacks was an instrumental part of crafting the vice president’s speech,” the source said. “He provided input and editorial suggestions on various drafts throughout the writing process.”
Pence also used his time at the podium to call on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, and promised that the US would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal unless it was changed, putting President Trump at odds with allies around the world.
The vice president, who received repeated standing ovations throughout, said his boss had “done more to bring our two great countries together than any President in the last 70 years”.
Elsewhere, the speech showed signs of Sacks, Pence saying: “In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, of a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope.”
Pence compared each country’s first settlers who “saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by providence, to build a new promised land,” adding that America’s founding fathers “turned to the Hebrew Bible for direction”.
And in reference to the growing under-the-radar cooperation between Israel and Sunni Muslim states, he said: “Descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in an unprecedented way.”
According to Times of Israel, a White House official said that Pence met Sacks for 90 minutes in New York in November “explicitly to discuss themes and structure for the speech”.