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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Mike Pompeo urges Israel to carry out 'absolute annihilation' of Hamas during ND lecture

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against recent terrorist attacks from Hamas and emphasized the need for the U.S. to display strength on the world stage during a Friday afternoon lecture at DeBartolo Hall.

“The Israeli government has a responsibility to protect its people, to protect its sovereignty,” Pompeo said. 

Pompeo condemned the “barbarity” of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Saturday, killing hundreds of Israelis, wounding thousands more and taking dozens more hostage. The Israeli death toll is now over 1,300. Pompeo described those who frame Israel as the aggressors in the conflict as “reprehensible.”

Pompeo urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to carry out “the absolute annihilation of Hamas” and ensure that no other similar attack could happen again.

“What Israel will do over the coming days and weeks will be difficult. It will at times appear ugly,” he said. “And it is necessary.”

Former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke in DeBartolo Hall Friday afternoon.

Pompeo, who served as the 70th secretary of state for the Trump administration, praised President Biden for pledging his support to Israel after the attack. However, he also criticized Biden for pursuing a foreign policy which he said invited attack.

“When the United States fails to lead, the bad actors in the world, people like the leaders of Islamic Republic of Iran, take note,” Pompeo said. “Timidity is provocative.”

He specifically attacked a recent deal the Biden administration made with Iran to arrange the return of U.S. prisoners in exchange for freeing up $6 billion in funds to Iran.

“The Iranians [through Hamas] are now holding twice as many Americans as before,” he said, citing a collaboration between Hamas and the Iranian government.

Pompeo said America had been “played for a fool.”

Pompeo contrasted Biden’s Middle East foreign policy with that of the Trump administration, arguing that Trump’s policy produced better results.

“By the time we left we had virtually strangled the Iranian economy and the attacks on Americans. The threats on Americans globally around the world had moved almost to zero,” he said.

Spreading religious liberty was a key priority during Pompeo's tenure as secretary of state, he said.

“We were pretty serious in the Trump administration about advocating for religious freedom everywhere. It wasn't just an afterthought,” he said. “We did it because it was noble and righteous.”

On the topic of religion more generally, Pompeo described the role that religion plays in his life. While secretary, Pompeo kept a Bible on his desk and read it — almost — every day, he said.

“As Secretary of State I kept an open Bible on my desk,” Pompeo said. “No matter what the media was doing, whatever the noise, I could return to these words that humbled me, encouraged me, guided me.”

Pompeo said Christianity is under attack in the West and the East and framed the geopolitical struggle between the U.S. and China as a moral battle against a secular, technocratic China.

“The Chinese Communist Party in its essence is a repudiation of the value of one's labor, as a manifestation of each person's unique gift, and it is a rejection of God and His dominion over all creation,” he said.

In order for the U.S. to remain dominant, Pompeo said, the nation must turn away from “unchecked materialism” and recommit itself to “a Judeo-Christian set of principles.”

Pompeo said if the U.S. can do this, it will be able to “be a beacon to the world” and “prosper for the next 250 years.”

“We should know that the world is counting on us for that,” he said. 

Pompeo also expressed his gratitude to speak at Notre Dame.

“To be on this campus where free speech is welcomed and to appear in front of people who won't always agree is something that I know I'm privileged to do,” he said.

Concluding his remarks, Pompeo urged the audience to pray for Israel, the region and innocents on both sides of the conflict.