Interesting, the relationship between Sarah Palin and Israel. I mean, the warmth expressed by the one — Palin — for the other. As I note in my column today, she kept an Israeli flag in her governor’s office. And, when she delivered that tea-party speech over the weekend, she was wearing a double-flag pin: the American with the Israeli. In my column, I guess at the reasons for this unabashed affection. And I quote from a profile I did of Charles Krauthammer last fall. (National Review, November 23.) A lot of Jews, especially in America, are nervous or snarky about the support so many conservative Christians show for Israel. What did Krauthammer think? He thought this support gratifying, the nervousness unfounded, and the snarkiness disgusting. (For more, see my column, or the original profile.)
Well, I have received a letter from Jeff Jacoby, the invaluable columnist for the Boston Globe. With his permission (natch), I share it with you:
Apropos Sarah Palin’s visible support for Israel: It goes deeper than mere support. I was struck, during her debate with Joe Biden in the ’08 campaign, by the way she spoke so unapologetically and matter-of-factly about feeling “love” for Israel. I just looked up the transcript of that debate, and there is a point when she says, “I’m so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that.” She didn’t say it with any pointed emphasis — it came out as if it were the most natural sentiment in the world.
I had forgotten that she ever called him “Senator Biden”! I thought it was always “Joe,” for worry that she would say — as many did, during that campaign — “O’Biden.”
More important, more Jacoby:
Have you ever heard any other American politician speak on a national stage about “loving” Israel? I never have. But such ardor is common among great numbers of Christian Zionists. Like Krauthammer, I am appalled by the hostility or suspicion so many (liberal) American Jews harbor toward evangelical Christians who embrace Israel. When I speak to Jewish audiences, I often tell them about the woman who called me one day from deep in bayou country after reading a column of mine on the Middle East. In her thick Louisiana accent she told me how she prays daily for Israel, and how in her front yard she has two flagpoles: one flying the Star-Spangled Banner and one flying the Israeli flag. And then I ask my audience how many of them fly an Israeli flag in their yard. Of course none of them would ever do such a thing — it would be too awkward, too parochial, too embarrassing. But this Louisiana Christian lady doesn’t worry about such things — she loves Israel and wants the world to know it.
Sarah Palin is like that too, and so are many, many Christian Zionists I have had the honor of meeting. I bless such people. I wish more of my fellow American Jews did likewise.