Friday, November 20, 2009

The Second Coming of Sarah Palin

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.


Unknown said...

It's all the flocking Jews fault.

andrew said...

amazing... what these fundamentalists (settlers, evangelicals, etc..) so selfishly miss is that: were there to be a collective human transcendence, it would certainly wait until people have overcome their tribal and national cages of identity and respect the sanctity of all life/consciousness. what respect is shown to Palestinians as they are dispossessed of house and home? none. so these people are doing more to prevent collective advancement, than encourage it. I'm not so sure about J-Street either..

Anonymous said...

Guilt by association is never wise. David Duke continues to praise and quote your friend Richard Silverstein. Does that make them cohorts?

Anonymous said...

When Ben-Ami says that he thinks that Palin is pandering to her right-wing base, he might also have in mind that her right-wing base in Christian Zionist, so he could be referring to the same thing that you are.

Unknown said...

Interesting that you pick a two-year old story to make your point and that you also read it incorrectly. Actually it says aliyah from the US had INCREASED that year , but it was overall aliyah that was down that year, but it has increased since then.

Jerry Haber said...

Yehudit and Tzvi, I was quoting the Christian Science Monitor. The increase in immigration from America over the past two years is not significant. I assure you that Sarah Palin was not referring to Nefesh be-Nefesh...she is thinking of Armaggedon.

My point was that Palin is not a politician pandering to a base. I think she genuinely believes the flocks of Jews are going to come to witness the Messiah's return. And that ain't the Lubavicher rebbe, either.

Y. Ben-David said...

Yes, "Jerry" Jews are coming to Israel and will so in greater numbers. You were one of the them. Why are your religious beliefs more "rational" than hers?

On the night that the State of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 newsman Lowell Thomas said something to the effect that "people all over the world tonight are opening their Bibles to see the fulfillment of the Prophecies recorded there". I guess he and the rest were a bunch of "fanatics" as well. And he wasn't a Lubavitcher, or even a Jew, for that matter.

During the 1980's (before the collapse of the Communist bloc) when there was a lot of talk the forcible expulsion of the Arabs from the country, the proponents claimed that it was necessary because of the "demographic threat". When asked how we could get away with doing something like that the world wouldn't approve of religious supporters said of this "G-d can do anything". When people would respond that a mass aliyah from the USSR would help the demographic balance without taking such drastic steps he replied "there is no way the Soviet Jews will come to Israel...they prefer the US". Well, what do you know, over 1 million Soviet Jews DID come to Israel a few years later. You could say "they flocked to Israel". Apparently G-d COULD arrange something like that, even though these religous extremists didn't seem to believe that. This just proves religous extremism is really just another manifestation of "kefira" (lack of belief).

So to dismiss the idea of mass aliyah of American Jews is simply another manifestation of a lack of belief. I don't know where you call yourself "Orthodox" yet you dismiss the TANACH (your statement that the stories of Joshua's conquest of Eretz Israel was made up), but more amazing things have happened in the past 100 years. When Ben-Gurion came to Israel around 1905 and there were 80,000 Jews here, who would have thought there would be almost 6 million one hundred years later? He was an atheist, but he had faith, even though many laughed at him just the way you are laughing at Palin (not that I necessarily accept her theology).

Unknown said...

Those who believe the end is near, and if only the Jews would do the right thing Moshiakh would come speedily and in our time, are likely to get angry when the Jews do not behave as they wish them to, thus impeding the wonderful end. Those with army behind them ( Christian or Jewish) are the most dangerous-- the others form a sect and may mess things up somewhat for the mainstreams but do add to the variety that is the human religious experience.

Anonymous said...

I'm a liberal Christian these days, but I grew up in the Bible Belt where it seemed like everyone (including me when I was young) had Palin's beliefs about Israel--in my day the book everyone read was "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsay, which was all about the Rapture, the Tribulation and Israel's central role. These days it's the "Left Behind" books which convey that viewpoint, but it hasn't changed. Basically, if you support God you are supposed to support Israel, and supporting Israel means support for the most extreme expansionist elements in Israeli society. Arabs who oppose this are opposed to God. It's that simple.

Obviously this is what Palin is referring to--anyone who either is or was part of that subculture would know it immediately.

It'd be interesting to know if there are any sstuides or polls that have established how many American Christians believe this stuff.


Michael Levin said...

Two on-line sources for information about Christian Zionism:

1] Challenging Christian Zionism and Apocalyptic Rapture Teachings on Israel and Palestine --

2] "Jews on First [because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind]" section on Christian Zionism --

Bonus video-link: Max Blumenthal's
video about the 2007 Christians United for Israel convention --

Anonymous said...

[How about this one? Just saw it on the internet! - - Shlomo]


To see the long hidden side of the 179-year-old, British-invented-and-American-merchandised, apocalyptic "rapture" mania, Google "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)" (the sloppy copyist "genius" that Lindsey, LaHaye and other "rapture" tycoons lean on!), "LaHaye's Temperament," "America's Pretrib Rapture Traffickers," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Thieves' Marketing," "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "The Newest Pretrib Calendar," "The Rapture Index (Mad Theology)," "Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," for starters. The author of these items plus the bestselling nonfiction book "The Rapture Plot" (available online) is journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has uniquely focused for 40 years on the bizarre history of this endtime craze which is anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic and anti- just about everyone else! MacPherson is the one who has researched throughout Britain and aired so much rapturesque "dirty linen" he's found behind the scenes (clever revisionism of early 19th century documents, rampant plagiarism, phony doctorates, Swaggart-type scandals etc.) that he is now No. 1 on the hate lists of the leading "rapture" money-changers! As everyone's black, dust-covered book says, "There is nothing hidden that won't be revealed...."