Among the things that Sarah Palin said this past week to Barbara Walters this week was this little gem on settlement expansion was the following gem"
I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. 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."
This remark sailed right over the heads of the secular media who are not used to hearing Christian evangelicals. Here's one example, from the Christian Science Monitor.
While her assertion that more and more Jews will be "flocking" to Israel soon is dubious (the immigration of US Jews to Israel hit an 18-year low in 2007 while the Palestinian population in the area is growing at faster rate than the Jewish one), her wholehearted support for settlement expansion on land Israel seized in 1967 is an outlier. The West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered to be illegally occupied by the UN and most world governments . Direct support for settlements would be a stunning departure for the US.
Once is tempted to say "dumb goyyim," but Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street reacted about the same.
Palin's pandering to her right-wing base comes at the expense of the security of the State of Israel, the lives of those actually living the conflict, and the fundamental American interest in achieving a two-state solution in the near term. Her words reveal a glaring ignorance of damaging facts and a callous disregard of past and present U.S. policy.
For Ben-Ami, Palin's support of settlement expansion was a case of "pandering to her right-wing base," as if she didn't really care about Jews or Israel – she just wanted to pick up some votes.
Dr. Marsha B. Cohen has pointed out privately that Palin's remark has a lot more behind it. Indeed, maybe you have to be a religious Jew or a Christian evangelical – or, for that matter, somebody who has studied those groups, like Dr. Cohen – to understand that Palin's remark came from her deepest convictions. Because as has already been pointed out, her version of Christianity preaches that very soon now (or as Chabad says, be-karov mammesh) there will be an ingathering of all the Jews to Israel as part of the final eschaton. And then the Lord Jesus Christ will return after Armaggedon, etc.
As an orthodox Jew who respects – well, at least understands – religious belief, I take Sarah Palin seriously. She is motivated by an ideology that is almost indistinguishable from that of the West Bank settlers, who also see that the Messiah is just around the corner. True, they disagree over the details – like the identity of the messiah and the message – but they are both motivated by a fundamentalist religious ideological.
Under these circumstances, the most natural organization to call out Sarah Palin on this religious interference into the Middle East would be the Anti-Defamation League.
Think again. Abe Foxman went out of his way to defend Palin against J-Street's attack. According to Foxman, who the hell is J-Street to tell Israel what its security needs are. Foxman, whose loyalty is almost always to whatever Israeli government is in charge (one remembers how he left his shul during Oslo because his rabbi was dissing the Rabin government), sees no problem with questioning J-Street's "pro-Israel" moniker and defending a position which any person with a grain of sekhel would understand as problematic at best, or benignly anti-Semitic at worst.
For Ben-Ami's response see here.