(May 16, 2018 / JNS) Throughout her years as a House representative for the state of Minnesota, conservative firebrand Michele Bachmann was never ashamed of mixing faith and politics.
Today, she serves as a member of the special faith advisory panel that serves as an informal group of advisers to U.S. President Donald Trump.
However, Bachmann, 62, recently found herself embroiled in controversy when a comment surfaced of hers from 2015, where she called on Jews to convert to Christianity. She quickly apologized for the comments, saying she asked for “repentance from the Jewish people for the horrible and arrogant way Christians, myself included, treated and regarded the Jewish people.”
Nevertheless, throughout her public life, Bachmann has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has visited the Jewish state numerous times to show solidarity. As an evangelical Christian, the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem was an occasion she could not miss and so was in the country as part of a delegation led by Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of the Latino Coalition for Israel.
JNS caught up with Bachmann at a meeting of evangelical leaders on the rooftop of the Aish HaTorah Jewish learning center overlooking the Temple Mount to discuss the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Trump’s decision to exit the Iran deal and some of the many challenges facing Israel today.
Q: How do you view the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on the same day that Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary?
A: I think it is [just] the beginning because now after 70 years, Israel really is in a golden era. Israel is coming from a global position of strength, and I think that is where Israel is going to go—from strength to strength. Israel’s purpose biblically is to be a blessing for all nations. Nations can be enriched because of things Israel is doing. Things that emanate here, nowhere else, now will benefit the rest of the world.
Will the world see Israel as a blessing, or will they see Israel as a curse? It is up to the nations to decide how to respond.
Q: What is your take on Trump’s decision to exit the Iranian nuclear deal?
A: I served on the intelligence committee during the time the deal was coming through. I was one of the most vocal critics of the deal. It was an unmitigated disaster. What is tragic is that we cannot undue giving $150 billion to the largest state sponsor of terror. But now, we are in the process of turning course. So, we are seeing the breaking of the back of the evil designs.
In the midst of [U.S. President Barack] Obama signing the agreement, on the streets of Tehran people were screaming “Death to America, death to Israel!” At the same time, the ayatollah published his book saying Israel will be annihilated within 25 years, and it’s like, really? You’re giving these people cash on pallets that you’re dropping out of cargo planes? This is a murderous regime. But those days are over. A new sheriff is in town.
Q: What is your take on the reaction among our European allies to the decision on Iran?
A: Not only is this agreement being ripped up, but I think we will also see a difference in Europe. Because the United States—and our status as the world’s leading superpower—has clout that will be used for good, as the tip of the spear to be used against terrorism.
None of the countries of the world, other than Israel, quite understands how to deal with terrorism. And it is because Israel has been squeezed constantly on this issue. I think the U.S. working together with Israel is going to be amazing on this issue.
Q: Speaking of past deals, do you think Israel could ever pull out of the Oslo Accords?
A: I think it is possible, of course. There are different ways to deal with agreements like that, and a lot of it quite honestly has to do with the personnel within the decision-making bodies, and in this case, within the State Department. I think it is entirely possible to see the mechanics within the State Department change.
For instance, we are calcified and wedded to ideas that were popular in the 1960s and ˋ70s that today are hurtful to the interests of the United States. And hurtful to the best interests not only of the Jewish people, but also to the Arab people of this region. With a new mindset in Washington, D.C., I think they are unafraid to do away with what doesn’t work. A lot of these old agreements and a lot of these old promises have been a failure, and I think they [Trump administration] are willing to accept new premises based upon reality. It is a reality diplomacy and a reality-based strategy, I think, in terms of foreign policy that we are going to see coming [from]the Trump [administration].
And I feel very strongly that we are going to see a dramatic change coming out of the White House, which we are already starting to see.
Q: As a devout Christian, do you think that Israel should be forced to leave Judea and Samaria, which many consider the biblical heartland of the Jewish state?
A: If I were president of the United States, I would announce today that the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria are legally and rightfully Israel’s lands today. They can do whatever they want with their land. It is not up to us to determine what to do with their land. They fought for it and won this land.
No other nation after winning land in a battle is asked to give it back. This is the only nation that is asked to do that.
Q: Guatemala is poised to open its embassy in Jerusalem soon. Earlier this year, you visited the country as part of a mission to thank President Jimmy Morales for announcing his support for Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and the embassy move. What message do you think Guatemala’s decision sends to the world?
A: Guatemala has put themselves on a path towards blessing. And so, Guatemala is going to be lifted up to be one of the greatest leaders in Latin America.