Jewish Voice and Opinion did a piece on Sarah Palin: The Anti-Obama
It started out introducing Jews for Sarah, a new blog and ended with this.
[..]To prove his point, he showed that, in the same sentence, she also castigated Mr. Obama for “poking an ally like Israel in the eye.”
Mr. Korn said it was no accident that the remark about the Obama administration’s mistreatment of Israel was omitted from mainstream accounts of her talk.
“The Israel remark is there because, to Sarah Palin, the well being of Israel and the Jewish people is an integral part of her worldview. Israel is not just another cold run-of-the-mill foreign policy matter. What happens to Israel matters to her as a Christian. Threats to America’s moral fiber and threats to Israel’s national security are all part of the same challenge that she wants Americans to address,” he said.
Bedtime Queen Esther
Mr. Korn noted that, during her talk, Mrs. Palin revealed that the book she reads to her eight-year-old daughter at bedtime is the Biblical Book of Esther.
“She reads the Book of Esther to Piper because she wants her daughter to emulate one of Jewish history’s most famous heroines,” said Mr. Korn.
In that speech, while Mrs. Palin cited some quotes from the Christian Bible, Jewish scripture figured much more prominently. She quoted twice from Psalms as well as from Proverbs and the Prophet Malachi. She told the women that she loves telling Piper about how Esther, an orphan, overcame steep odds and difficulties in order to save the Jewish people.
“Fear mongers with political agendas want to drive a wedge between Gov Palin and American Jewry. Sometimes they do it with quotations that leave out key sentences. Sometimes they do it with distorted depictions of her religious beliefs. Jews have nothing to fear from Sarah Palin’s religion, but we have plenty to fear from those political leaders who not only have no interest in Esther or Proverbs or Sarah, but who think that poking Israel in the eye makes for good foreign policy. A careful look at the speech reveals how close to Judaism and the Jewish people she is,” said Mr. Korn.
Concern with Iran
He is convinced that as Mr. Obama continues his anti-Israel policies, the issues raised by Mrs. Palin’s critics will diminish in importance and support for her in the Jewish community as a whole will increase.
He pointed specifically to the Obama administration’s recent implication that Israel’s insistence on Jerusalem as its undivided capital was putting American soldiers’ lives at risk and to the poor treatment accorded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Obama White House.
“This president is more concerned about Jews building apartments in Jerusalem than he is about Iran’s building nuclear missiles. This is why it’s time to act,” said Mr. Korn.
Mrs. Palin’s connection to politically conservative Jewish supporters of Israel became apparent during the 2008 Presidential election campaign, when the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, asked her to become his running mate. Her first reference to foreign policy dealt with stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Israeli Flags in Alaska
She also had a reputation for supporting Israel. Within hours of her selection by Mr. McCain, an online video, made months earlier, surfaced, showcasing hiking and tourism in Alaska, and featuring an interview with Mrs. Palin in her office. Near the window, there was a small blue-and-white flag of Israel.
Another filmmaker, Elan Frank, a California-based Israeli, also noticed the Israeli flag in her office while filming adocumentary on the then-newly elected governor.
“I was very surprised to see that and when I asked her about it, she said she loves Israel and she had friends who visited the country and brought her the flag,” said Mr. Frank, a former Israeli Air Force pilot who said he found Mrs. Palin “honest and direct.”
Neither film had anything to do with Jews or Israel. With only 4,000 Jews in the entire state, she was probably not seeking to attract Jewish votes.
According to Mrs. Palin’s attorney, Tucker Eskew, the Israeli flag was a permanent fixture in her office because even though she still has yet to travel to Israel, she is a staunch supporter of the Jewish state.
“She would describe herself as a strong supporter of Israel, with an understanding of Israel’s fear of an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons,” said Mr. Eskew.
Periodically, the Juneau Christian Center, one of the churches Mrs. Palin and her family attend, schedules a “Night to Honor Israel.”
“Quite a contrast with Obama’s Trinity United Church that published the Hamas Manifesto in its bulletin and whose pastor for 20 years, Rev Jeremiah Wright, honored Louis Farrakhan,” said Mr. Korn.
Although, as a candidate for President, Mr. Obama initially defended Mr. Wright, it soon became politically untenable, and the Obamas broke with their long-standing spiritual leader.
Recently, Mrs. Palin was asked by Barbara Walters if she supported the building freeze demanded by Mr. Obama on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Mrs. Palin responded with an emphatic no.
“More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand,” she said.
Once again, some political left-wingers read a sinister message in her words. Writer and blogger Jeffrey Goldberg declared that, as an evangelical Christian, Mrs. Palin was foreseeing the ingathering of the Jews that, according to Christian theology, will precede Jesus’s second coming.
Mr. Korn, however, said it was clear that Mrs. Palin’s intent was exactly the same as the efforts behind Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Israeli-based group that facilitates English-speaking aliyah.
“Mrs. Palin understands that Zionism, the movement to encourage Jews to relocate to Israel, is a vital force,” he said, pointing out that the great Maimonides argued that the coming of the Jewish Messiah is inextricably linked to the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
“The Evangelical view is really no different from this idea,” said Mr. Korn.
In 2008, Mrs. Palin’s support for Jewish life in Judea and Samaria was called into question when, during the Vice-Presidential debate, she and her then-Democratic opponent, now Vice President Joseph Biden, were asked about the “two-state solution” as a way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While no one was surprised that Mr. Biden gave it his full support, many conservatives hoped Mrs. Palin might say something about waiting until the Palestinian side fulfilled its obligations to disarm terrorists or even simply to stop the continuous anti-Israel incitement on the PA’s government-controlled media and in their school textbooks.
She did not. Like Mr. Biden, she called for the “two-state solution.”
Perhaps to soften the blow, she quickly added that if Mr. McCain were elected, he intended to relocate the US embassy immediately to Jerusalem, an old promise made by both Democrat and Republican candidates for President that none has ever kept.
Mr. Biden did not even respond to the idea of moving the embassy, clearly indicating that neither he nor Mr. Obama had any intention of doing so.
Mrs. Palin’s response during the debate to the question regarding Israel was in sharp contrast to the answers she had provided just a few days earlier when, in a telephone interview with The Jewish Voice, she was asked how she felt about the land in the “West Bank” that Israel was being asked to relinquish.
“Oh, you mean Yehuda v’Shomron,” she said, using the Hebrew words for Judea and Samaria, the Biblical names for the disputed territory.
She said she had “strong feelings” about those sites, based not so much on Biblical promises, which she termed her “personal belief,” but, rather, she said, “on access.”
“My understanding is that there are holy sites throughout the lands that Israel is being asked to withdraw from, places that are holy to Christians and Jews. And Muslims, too. Before Israel had sovereignty over those areas, Jewish and Christian access to those sites was severely limited. Ever since Israel gained control over those lands, access has been open to everyone. I don’t think we should take that issue of access lightly,” she said.
Hebron and Shechem
Asked if she had any specific sites in mind, she mentioned “Hebron and Shechem.”
In fact, Mrs. Palin was exactly correct. Before Israel regained control of Hebron in 1967, Jews were denied access to the Cave of the Patriarchs, where, according to Jewish tradition, the Biblical Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah were buried 3,700 years ago. The Palestinian Authority has made it clear that, if Israel relinquishes Hebron to them, no Jews will be permitted to live in the city and non-Muslim prayer in the Cave will once again be forbidden.
According to Jewish tradition, Shechem, modern-day Nablus, is where the Patriarch Jacob’s son, Joseph, was buried. Muslims, who believe Joseph is buried in Hebron, maintain that the site revered by Jews as Joseph’s Tomb is actually the burial site of a Muslim sheikh. Now under the control of the PA, Shechem and Joseph’s Tomb are generally off-limits to Jews and Christians.
Why She Did It
After the televised vice-presidential debate in 2008, a source on Mrs. Palin’s staff tried to explain the seeming incongruity between the Alaska governor’s stated concern for Jewish and Christian access to the holy sites in Judea and Samaria and her position during the debate favoring a Palestinian state that, presumably, would include those sites.
The source, who asked for anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press, said that because the McCain campaign was supporting a two-state solution, it was “unfair” to expect Mrs. Palin to deviate from that line.
“But I can assure you, she knows what’s at stake. That’s what she meant when, in the same breath, she said the US embassy had to be moved to Jerusalem immediately,” said the source.
Asked to elaborate, the source said Mrs. Palin believed that if the US were to place its embassy in Jerusalem, the PA would understand that Washington views
“The truth is, Sarah doesn’t expect the PA to become flexible enough in the foreseeable future to make the kind of compromises that would be necessary for a two-state solution,” said the source.
When she was running for vice-president, another source of contention was the report that, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Mrs. Palin had supported Pat Buchanan in his 2000 Presidential run. Mr. Buchanan, who was running on the “Reform Party” ticket, is still widely seen as not only anti-Israel, but also antisemitic.
In fact, Mrs. Palin never supported Mr. Buchanan. In a letter to the Anchorage Daily News, written before Mr. Buchanan’s visit to Wasilla, she explained that whenever any Presidential candidate campaigned in her community, “I am always happy to meet them. I’ll even put on their button when handed one as a polite gesture of respect.”
Although Mrs. Palin was photographed with a “Buchanan button,” that year she supported one of Mr. Buchanan’s opponents, Steve Forbes, for whom she served as a campaign official.
Kory Bardash, a spokesman for Republicans Abroad Israel, a group that helps Americans living in Israel register to vote, called the issue of Mrs. Palin and the Buchanan button “absurd.”
“What is absurd is that Sarah Palin wore a button one time and Barack Obama sat in a church of an antisemite, anti-Israel preacher and absorbed his teachings for over 20 years. I leave it to the intelligence of the voter to determine who has a more troubling record,” he said.
Among Alaska’s Jews, who make up .5 percent of the population, Mrs. Palin seems to be well liked. Rabbi Yosef Greenberg of Anchorage Chabad said that, as governor, she had been very supportive of the city’s Jewish museum, and, at the organization’s annual gala, which she attended faithfully, she volunteered for hora lessons.
“From the time she became governor, she always supported the Jewish community and Israel. She always came to our events and is really a very amazing woman,” he said, admitting that, when it comes to foreign affairs, she might need some “catching up.”
“But she is a quick learner. She is a very good person; she is very honest, a very dedicated and wonderful mother,” he said, adding that he was personally impressed by her “remarks of hope and faith” when she gave birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome during the spring of 2008.
According to Rabbi Greenberg, she told him she accepted her special-needs child, saying “G-d doesn’t give you something you can’t handle.”
“It was straight out of the Lubavitch book. We all feel she is a remarkable, energetic, and good person,” he said.
Thatcher and Reagan
Mr. Korn believes Mrs. Palin’s ability to make those kinds of connections will eventually be recognized by American Jews, especially in the Orthodox community, where Mrs. Palin’s brand of social and family values are shared.
“There may not yet be a ground swell of support for Palin in the Orthodox community, but we aim to change that, just as many of them ultimately came to respect and even admire Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan,” said Mr. Korn.
He pointed out that Mrs. Thatcher was initially dismissed as an unintelligent, unsophisticated member of the wrong sex, incapable of holding her own among the world’s statesmen and politicians.
“In the end, she proved her detractors wrong and restored Britain’s economic, political, and national security institutions to their former greatness. Today and for posterity, she is reckoned among the handful of pivotal world leaders of the late 20th century,” he said.
Similarly, he noted, Mr. Reagan was initially scorned by American Jews and even many so-called conservative intellectuals.
Commentary magazine’s founding editor and one of the recognized founding fathers of the neoconservative movement, Norman Podhoretz, recently recalled in the Wall Street Journal that his early support of Mr. Reagan’s 1980 presidential candidacy was greeted even by his conservative friends with derisive remarks about “this B-movie star.”
Mr. Podhoretz said his support for Mrs. Palin has been similarly ridiculed.
“What she does know—and in this respect, she does resemble Reagan—is that the United States has been a force for good, which is more that Barack Obama, whose IQ is no doubt higher than hers, has yet to learn,” said Mr. Podhoretz.
He attributed the conservative-intellectual dislike of Mrs. Palin to “class bias,” displayed by people who are personally uncomfortable with the “Tea Party rabble.”
He ended his piece by announcing that, after watching Mr. Obama “in action” for more than a year, “I hereby declare that I would rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party, and I would rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama.”
Mr. Korn pointed out that, in the end, conservatives came to respect “and then revere” Mr. Reagan. In 1980, an unheard of 40 percent of American Jews deserted the Democrat, President Jimmy Carter, to vote for Mr. Reagan.
“Podhoretz sees a parallel between Reagan and Sarah Palin, and so do we,” said Mr. Korn.
He is convinced that as Mr. Obama sinks lower in the polls, especially among Jews, Mrs. Palin will gain popularity.
Last month, a McLaughlin and Associates poll of American-Jewish opinion indicated that although Mr. Obama won in 2008 with a massive 78 percent of the Jewish vote, today, a plurality of 46 percent of American Jews say they would consider voting for someone else against him in 2012.
That same poll showed that 52 percent of American Jews disapprove of the Obama administration’s plan to recognize a Palestinian state within two years; only 28 percent approve of it.
In addition, 64 percent of American Jews believe Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, while only 13 percent say the US should force Israel to relinquish parts of the city to the Palestinians.
Commenting on the poll, Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said, “American Jews have been given cause for deep concern about the President’s harsh policy towards Israel and indulgent one towards the Arab and Muslim worlds.”
The problems noted by Mr. Klein, who is not part of JASP, include: the Obama administration’s decision to “court” Israel’s sworn enemies, including Iran and Syria; Mr. Obama’s “writing off” Jewish claims to statehood “as sort of consolation prize for the Holocaust” in his June 2009 speech in Cairo; the anti-Israel track records of numerous Obama advisors on the Middle East; the “coupling” of America’s commitment to the Jewish state’s security with Israel’s forced “respect” for the “legitimate claims and rights” of the Palestinians; and the Obama administration’s condemnation, “as an insult to America,” of Israel’s announcement that it will build homes for Jews in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, “while increasing aid to the PA that refuses to make concessions or end terrorism or incitement to hatred and murder against Israel.”
“American Jews appear to have noticed and are worried—with reason,” said Mr. Klein.
In fact, prominent Jewish leaders and political figures have begun challenging Mr. Obama’s foreign policy in terms that were unimaginable only a few months ago.
Last month, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, a lifelong Democrat, excoriated Mr. Obama for “demeaning and slandering” Israel.
Other Jewish leaders, including World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and ADL National Director Abraham Foxman have also upbraided Mr. Obama. Mr. Lauder suggested Mr. Obama is trying to force Israel to retreat to its pre-1967 “indefensible” borders. Mr. Foxman said the new US policy toward Israel could prompt Jews to organize a “march on Washington” to protest.
That is not to say any of them are suddenly endorsing Mrs. Palin for president, but some of them are speaking about her in more dulcet tones.
Sen Joe Lieberman (I-CT), a former Democrat who ran as an Independent and campaigned for Mr. McCain, called Mrs. Palin “a powerful force” who speaks for “a lot of people out there”
Those who are supporting her, he said, include people who are “worried that government has forgotten them, that it has grown too big, that the deficit is growing too large, and, in some sense, that we’re not being as strong as we should be in the world.”
“Gov. Palin has spoken to those concerns as much as anyone,” he said.
Mr. Lieberman described her as “warm and likeable” and even though he said he disagreed with her on some specifics, he warned her opponents not to dismiss her or what she has to say.
“Anybody who underestimates Sarah Palin as a political force in America does so at some peril, because she is speaking for a lot of people out there,” he said.
Not Ready to Vote—Yet
Mr. Koch confessed that although he would “never vote for her—her politics scare me,” he, nevertheless, admires her “as a human being.”
“She’s a plucky person who speaks out. I think the people who refer to her as stupid are ridiculous. She’s much smarter than they are and I wish her well, but I don’t want her as my president,” he said.
Mr. Korn said he can be patient. “The ugly fight that Obama has picked with Israel is stirring American Jews to action,” he said. “And Gov. Palin has emerged by far as the president’s most effective public