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.
It will be amusing to see how Palin is going to critizize Iran etc for religious extremism. Ahmadinejad begins to seem like a rather rational secular politician compared to what we can read in the first analyses of this lady’s religious views. Is a person who in earnest believes in Creationism and that the world is 4000 years old really fit to be a potential president (which vice president can become) of a superpower? Well with people like Palin “leading” the “west” the return of dark ages is certain.
I often come across statistics that say that over 40% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
I find it hard to get my mind around that.
I agree with your main point here, but want to focus on a side issue–Wright’s alleged racism and intolerance.
Most of Wright’s “racist intolerant” sermons would fit in nicely as a post at any leftwing blog that is harshly critical of US foreign policy and its internal history towards black people. Obama ran away from Wright’s equation of US foreign policy with terrorism–lots of us on the left think Wright was right.
The AIDS conspiracy theory was crap, but understandable that someone might believe this, given the Tuskegee project.
Wright did say some moronic things about educational theory, which could be termed racist. I’d stick with “moronic”, however, because he doesn’t seem to hate white people, just the power structures in our society. He’s a black man who doesn’t pull his punches about what that power structure has done, and so he makes white people feel very uncomfortable. Obama is much more popular because he doesn’t make whites feel uncomfortable or guilty. That’s what he has to do to be a successful politician (as Wright said).
I think most of the racism and intolerance in the Wright/Obama flareup came from hysterical whites. I grew up around people like this–ten years after the “white” and “colored” signs came off the water fountains and they thought that if blacks still had a problem they were the racists.
I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus. You have quoted just one paragraph of the six-page transcript of David Brickner’s message, giving the false impression that he is saying that a bulldozer attack by a deranged Palestinian is God’s judgment on the Jewish people. Please read the entire message for yourself at http://wasillabible.org/sermons.htm so that you can see Brickner’s remarks in context.
Among other things, Brickner says, “My mother always told me, ‘Be careful when you point a finger at somebody else, because there’s some pointing back at you.’ And really, Israel has not cornered the market on unbelief. Israel is an example of what all humanity has been saying to God since the beginning of time, shaking its fists at the heavens and saying, ‘You’ll not rule over us.’ And so all of the controversy that we see swirling in Jerusalem is really a mirror that the world looks in to see the controversy within . . . . It’s the dilemma of the human heart.”
Brickner is saying that without forgiveness of sins, which he (and I) believe only comes through Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, there will be judgment – not just for Jews, but for all mankind.
Please take a look at the discussion concerning Mr. Brickner’s message at the Jews for Jesus website, [URL removed per comment rules]
Richard Silverstein says
@Matt: You haven’t quoted anything that would mitigate Brickner’s egregious statements about suicide attacks being God’s judgment for Jewish unbelief. You’re welcome to quote anything else you wish that would “explain” or “clarify” that. As far as I’m concerned, the passage I quoted speaks for itself.
And saying you’re “Jewish” and believe in Jesus gives you a very tenuous connection to Judaism, one not shared with 99.999% of the rest of the Jews in the world who look on yr claim quite dubiously.
I am free to be secular, 500 years past Spinoza.
Zionism could guide the formerly religious Jews to a secular Enlightenment in Israel, through some temporary wanderings in the religious deserts, but with an enriched result in secular sociology, as America was also founded by Enlightened people for Enlightened people, with the occasional influx of less and more religious immigrants.
Fundamentalists can and will be cured from the various degrees of delusions.
And the secular culture will be a winner. I can imagine, it will set us free.
“I often come across statistics that say that over 40% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. I find it hard to get my mind around that.”
Who’s literal interpretation is another problem.
Tolerance is a Must says
I don’t condemn anyone for their faith and government should not be in the business of doing so. However, government shouldn’t be in the business of preferring one view or encouraging intolerance. Sadly, intolerance is the cornerstone of Jews for Jesus’ stated mission – and Palin’s refusal to speak out about the situation, to have to drag a “she didn’t know and doesn’t agree” from a spokesperson month’s later does not bode well for government furthering tolerance in society.
Similarly, I can’t condemn Sarah Palin for believing “God’s will” is basically anything she backs as a policy proposal. Its divisive and (I think) arrogant to presume to knowledge of God’s will like this, but I wasn’t raised in the evangelical tradition. I do have a big problem with her, in her capacity as Governor, telling evangelical Christians that their “job” is to get the hearts of Alaskans “right with God” so “God’s will” for Alaska can be done. That’s what should scare anyone who isn’t an evangelical Christian, since accepting Christ as your personal Lord and savior is the basic requirement to “get right with God” in this tradition. Everyone else is an impediment to the ideal state, in her own words.
It’s not so much a matter of mitigating Brickner’s statement as it is reading that statement in the context of the entire sermon. Have you read the whole sermon at http://wasillabible.org/sermons.htm ? If Jesus is really the Messiah, and if we, as a nation of Jewish people, dismissed him, wouldn’t it make sense that there would be turmoil in the Land until we acknowledged that mistake? God says, speaking through the prophet Hosea, “And I will return to My abode—till they realize their guilt. In their distress, they will seek Me and beg for My favor (Hosea 5:15). As biblical scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains, “Before anyone can go back to a place, he must first leave it. In this passage, God states that He is going back to His place. God’s place is Heaven. Before God can go back to Heaven, He must first leave it. The question is: When did God ever leave Heaven? God left Heaven at the incarnation of the Person of Jesus of Nazareth” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 306). Notice that God says there will be distress for the Jewish people. This is what Brickner is referring to. Fruchtenbaum continues, “This verse further states that He will not come back to the earth until the offense that caused Him to return to Heaven is acknowledged or confessed. What is that Jewish national offense committed against the person of Jesus? It is not, as so many people think, in killing Him. The actual killing of Jesus was done by Gentile, not Jewish, hands. He was condemned and sentenced by a Gentile judge. He was crucified by Gentile soldiers. But all this is ultimately irrelevant for, regardless of Jewish acceptance or Jewish rejection, Jesus would have had to die anyway to become the sacrifice for sin. The national offense of Israel was in the rejection of His Messiahship. According to this verse, only when this offense is acknowledged or confessed will Messiah return to the earth” (Fruchtenbaum, loc. cit.)
Richard Silverstein says
@Matt: This is the last time you will proselytize for your accursed religion here. All future comments by you will be moderated & any that do so will be consigned to the trash heap.
And thanks for confirming that you DO believe that Israelis killed by terror attacks are killed because they’ve denied your Lord & Savior. This will go a long way toward building yr credibility among Jews, real Jews that is, as opposed to whatever you & yr ilk are.
Anyone who believed what Brickner believes, would say what he said. And if what he said is true, they would be right.