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Politically powerful American Jews tend to be uncomfortable with evangelical Christians, unless they are the kind that unconditionally support Israeli foreign policy and are members of organizations which send boatloads of money to the Jewish state. Reverend John Hagee and his Christians United For Israel (CUFI) come to mind in this regard. Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, unlike Hagee, is an evangelical for whom Israel does not play an important role. It did not, at least, until a few days ago when the colorful, gun-toting, Christian conservative Alaska governor stepped on to the national political stage. Suddenly Palin had a Jewish problem. According to critics, she is not sufficiently sensitive to Jewish interests and Israeli security, and may be an anti-Semite. According to the McCain campaign, the solution to this problem was to send Palin, escorted by Senator Joseph (Mr. Right-Wing Jewish American) Lieberman to seek absolution and approval at the throne of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Palin had been accused by Jewish Democratic Obama supporters of backing Rep. Ron Paul and the 2000 presidential candidacy of Pat Buchanan. Both men have expressed their opposition to the U.S./Israel “special relationship.” The Alaska governor was also rebuked for her recent attendance at a sermon given by Jews for Jesus founder, David Brickner, at which he stated that the reason for violence against Israelis is that Jews do not embrace the Christian god.
These accusations against Palin mirror those that have been leveled against Barack Obama and have about as much credibility. The Democratic Presidential candidate has been called a pro-Palestinian Hamas devotee, a Muslim hater of Jews, and a closet terrorist who is an al Qaeda mole. These ludicrous charges have been made mostly by Jewish McCain supporters and are as about as believable as the anti-Jewish, anti-Israel criticisms lodged against Palin.
Both smear campaigns are promoted through extensive e-mailings. The criticisms of both candidates rely heavily on guilt by exaggerating personal associations and distorting the views of those with which the candidates are excused of being associated. Just as Obama is charged with attendance at certain sermons given by Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Palin is accused of sitting through a Brickner sermon. It is not clear to what extent either candidate agreed with what he or she heard. Obama has rejected many of Wright’s remarks. I do not believe that Palin has had the opportunity to comment on the Brickner sermon. My opinion is that the actual perniciousness and inappropriateness of the Wright and Brickner positions are greatly overstated.
Even though the anti-Jewish accusations against their bible- praising, hockey mom candidate were scurrilous and spurious, the McCain campaign thought that the best antidote against Palin’s burgeoning Jewish problem was immunization from a group of hastily assembled AIPAC directors, who, I assume, were in town for the Republican convention. The group met with Palin at her hotel. Ironically, she was chaperoned by the man she had replaced as John McCain’s choice for a running mate, Senator Lieberman (Ind., CT, Israel, CUFI). Apparently, it was decided that Lieberman was too liberal on social issues for the Republican base. Predictably, Palin’s appeal to the quickly assembled pro-Israel lobbyists was successful. After the meeting, Josh Block, a spokesman for AIPAC, announced, “We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S./Israel relationship, and we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel…. Like Sen. 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." Palin, who is reported to be a quick learner, found out in a most public lesson that genuflecting to the directors of AIPAC is an important part of what passes for foreign policy experience and acumen these days.
The youthful Vice Presidential candidate, who has already acquired an impressive list of descriptive phrases which are associated with her name, can add one more. Lifelong supporter of Israel. Welcome to American politics, Sarah Palin.
IRA GLUNTS is a secular American Jew who opposes the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. He lives in Madison, NY where he and his wife own and operate a used and rare book business. Mr. Glunts will vote for neither John McCain nor Barack Obama.