Sarah Palin has a Jewish problem. Hers is even worse than John Hagee’s. Despite his fire and brimstone vision of the End Times and concomitant deaths of Jewish unbelievers, at least he can say that he’s friendly with right-wing Jews due to his scorched earth philosophy about Israeli territorial concessions. Palin doesn’t even have that going for her.
Now, Politico’s Ben Smith reports that only two weeks ago Palin attended her local church to hear Jews for Jesus executive director David Brickner excoriate Jews for not accepting Him as their Lord and saviour:
Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organised Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception”.
Brickner … described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God’s “judgment of unbelief” of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity.
“Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment – you can’t miss it.”
I’m not going to make the same mistake anti-Obamaites made in attributing the Rev Jeremiah Wright’s views to Obama. She doesn’t necessarily believe that all Jews are going to rot in Hell for not accepting Jesus. But I think it’s entirely legitimate to ask what she was doing there while a speaker whom Jews view as anathema was expressing such ideas. And it’s appropriate to insist that she not participate in such forums in the future and that she dissociate herself from the views she heard that day. So far, not a peep from her. I guess that means it’s only a capital offense for Democrats to listen to racist, intolerant sermons in church. Republican evangelicals must have the Protestant equivalent of the papal indulgence to get themselves off the hook.
Palin is already “right with God.” Now she desperately wants to get right with Israel and the Jews. On Tuesday Palin, chaperoned by Joe Lieberman, had her first pro forma meeting with Aipac’s national board of directors at her Minneapolis hotel, where the campaign has sequestered her:
A campaign official … said it [the meeting] was geared towards putting the American Jewish community at ease over her understanding of US-Middle East relations.
“That’s obviously going to be an issue,” the aide said. “It’s not like being the senator from New York, obviously. But these aren’t issues that are off her radar.”
Palin … expressed her “heartfelt support for Israel” and spoke of the threats it faces from Iran and others, the campaign official said.
“We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the US-Israel relationship, and we were pleased that governor Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel,” Aipac spokesman Josh Block said. “Like Senator McCain, the vice-presidential nominee understands and believes in the special friendship between the two democracies and would work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership in a McCain/Palin administration.”
This is clearly boilerplate stuff. And you’ll notice that the story was fed to the press by spokespeople instead of the candidate herself. This is a further indication of nervousness on the campaign’s part in having Palin present her own views on the issue (if she has any).
Clearly, McCain’s people worry that Palin has as little understanding of Israel as she has of other major foreign policy issues. She’s never visited Israel. Her state contains a grand total of 6,000 Jews. It would be legitimate to question whether, at this point, she “gets” many issues of concern to the Jewish community. And her evangelical background isn’t going to persuade Jews otherwise. Davke l’hefech, as they say in Hebrew.
This is through no fault of her own. I wouldn’t expect a politician from Alaska to know her borsht from her bialy or her two-state solution from her Separation Wall. But the fault lies with McCain, who chose Palin without thinking through the impact this would have on his campaign in the Jewish community. Or perhaps he did make such a calculation and Jews were judged expendable compared to evangelicals. Either way, it doesn’t say much for McCain.