US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended his high-profile trip to Israel with a visit Friday to a museum dedicated to Christian Zionists and founded by an evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump.
The Friends of Zion Museum in central Jerusalem honors the bond between the Jewish and Christian peoples and highlights the role Christian Zionists have played in advocating for a Jewish state.
Christian Zionists believe that the modern-day return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land is prophesized in the Bible and must come before Jesus’ own return to earth.
The museum was founded in 2015 by Texas author Mike Evans, who is also a member of Trump’s executive evangelical advisory board. Ahead of Trump’s first visit to Israel in May 2017, Evans organized for dozens of billboards to be hung across Jerusalem with slogans like “Trump is a Friend of Zion” and “Make Israel Great Again.”
On Thursday, Washington’s top diplomat announced that imports coming from settlements in the West Bank will now require a label indicating they were made in Israel. He also pledged that the Trump administration would identify US-based groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which promotes the boycott of Israeli goods, and label them anti-Semitic.
In the run-up to the presidential election, Trump unveiled a number of foreign policy achievements in the hopes of galvanizing his evangelical Christian voter base. In addition to brokering normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab states, his administration ended restrictions last month on using US taxpayer funding for scientific research projects conducted in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
In another break with longstanding US policy, the administration said in October that American citizens born in Jerusalem may now list “Israel” as their place of birth on their passports. Earlier in his presidency, Trump angered the Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Pompeo is himself an evangelical Christian. From Jerusalem's Old City, he delivered a controversial speech to the Republican National Convention in August, during which he described the city “the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland.”
Pompeo will travel next to the United Arab Emirates, where he will meet with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for a discussion on the recent Trump administration-brokered normalization deal struck between the UAE and Israel.