Palin’s evan­gel­i­cal faith drives pro-Is­rael view

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

ST. PAUL, Minn. | Sarah Palin dis­plays an Is­raeli flag in her gov­er­nor’s of­fice in Juneau, even though she has never been to the coun­try, and at­tends Protes­tant evan­gel­i­cal churches that con­sider the preser­va­tion of the state of Is­rael a bib­li­cal im­per­a­tive.

Her faith makes her a fa­vorite with the staunchly pro-Is­rael neo­con­ser­va­tive el­e­ments in the Repub­li­can Party.

But other Repub­li­cans may be con­cerned that a John McCainSarah Palin ad­min­is­tra­tion will dis­re­gard the cau­tion of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush and some of his top ad­vis­ers and con­tinue the tilt to­ward Is­rael.

Most Repub­li­cans and con­ser­va­tives out­side Alaska know lit­tle about Mrs. Palin’s for­eign pol­icy views — on Is­rael or any­thing else.

But Tucker Eskew, who holds the ti­tle of coun­selor to Mrs. Palin in the McCain-Palin cam­paign, left no doubt where she stands.

“She would de­scribe her­self as a strong sup­porter of Is­rael’s, with an un­der­stand­ing of Is­rael’s fear of an Iran in pos­ses­sion of nu­clear weapons,” Mr. Eskew told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

In June, Mrs. Palin told min­istry stu­dents at her for­mer church that in go­ing to war with Iraq, the United States is “on a task that is from God,” the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

Mrs. Palin’s brand of evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tantism is es­pe­cially well-dis­posed to the preser­va­tion of Is­rael for bib­li­cal rea­sons, said Mer­rill Matthews, an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian and a Dal­las-based health-pol­icy spe­cial­ist.

Mrs. Palin was bap­tized as a teenager at the Wasilla As­sem­bly of God Church. She fre­quently at­tends the Juneau Chris­tian Cen­ter, which is also part of the Pen­te­costal As­sem­blies of God. Her home church is the Church of the Rock, an in­de­pen­dent con­gre­ga­tion.

“His­tor­i­cally, the As­sem­blies of God have been dis­pen­sa­tion­al­ists, which means they be­lieve in ‘the rap­ture’ of Chris­tians that takes them out of the world,” said Mr. Matthews. “Cen­tral to that po­si­tion is a very strong sup­port for Is­rael. It’s in­te­gral to their view of both prophecy and pol­i­tics. Deny­ing Is­rael is al­most like deny­ing the faith.”

Mean­while, she is get­ting rave re­views from Jewish Repub­li­cans.

“I think it is very telling that she has a flag of the state of Is­rael in her of­fice,” said Matthews Brooks, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion. “That was not in­spired by do­mes­tic pol­i­tics, since there is a very small Jewish pop­u­la­tion in Alaska.

“The fact that she keeps the flag of Is­rael in her of­fice means she has Is­rael in her heart,” Mr. Brooks said. “I am con­fi­dent the Jewish com­mu­nity will be im­pressed with the strong pro-Is­rael views of Gov­er­nor Palin as she be­gins to travel the coun­try and [. . . ] dis­cuss the crit­i­cal is­sues in this cam­paign.”

On the Demo­cratic side, pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Sen. Barack Obama and his run­ning mate, Sen. Joseph R. Bi­den Jr., while not iden­ti­fy­ing with neo­con­ser­vatism, have put them­selves solidly in the friends of Is­rael camp.

“The essence of neo­con­ser­vatism is the pro­tec­tion of Is­rael — a shared pri­or­ity with evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians,” said Paul Erick­son, the Repub­li­can strate­gist who man­aged Pat Buchanan’s pres­i­den­tial bid in 1992.

Chief among the McCain cam­paign’s for­eign pol­icy ad­vis­ers known for their neo­con­ser­va­tive world­view is Randy Sche­une­mann, a for­mer aide to Trent Lott and Bob Dole in the Se­nate.

Other neo­con­ser­va­tive for­eign pol­icy an­a­lysts who have Mr. McCain’s ear are for­mer Clin­ton White House CIA Di­rec­tor R. James Woolsey Jr., who pre­dicted that Iraq’s Shi’ite Mus­lims would flock to sup­port the U.S. in the event of war, and Robert Ka­gan, a co-founder of the neo­con­ser­va­tive Project for the New Amer­i­can Cen­tury.

The Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls who com­peted with Mr. McCain ear­lier this year tended to share the same in­ter­ven­tion­ist ap­proach in for­eign pol­icy that is in­te­gral to the neo­con­ser­va­tive world­view.

“There is an over­whelm­ing pres­ence of neo­con­ser­va­tives and ab­sence of tra­di­tional con­ser­va­tives that I don’t know what to make of,” said Richard V. Allen, for­mer Rea­gan White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser.

In June, Mr. Obama pledged his sup­port be­fore a pow­er­ful pro-Is­rael lobby, though not couched in bib­li­cal or re­li­gious terms.

“I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to pre­vent Iran from ob­tain­ing a nu­clear weapon,” he told the Amer­i­can Is­rael Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee (AIPAC) in Wash­ing­ton. “Let there be no doubt: I will al­ways keep the threat of mil­i­tary action on the ta­ble to de­fend our se­cu­rity and our ally Is­rael.”

Not to be out­done, Mr. Bi­den ap­pealed in per­son to el­derly Jewish Florid­i­ans on Sept. 3.

“I am chair­man of the [Se­nate] For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee,” he said. “I give you my word as a Bi­den I would not have given up that job to be Barack Obama’s vice pres­i­dent if I didn’t in my gut and in my heart and in my head know that Barack Obama is ex­actly where I am on Is­rael. And he is.”

On Sept. 1, Mr. McCain told an AIPAC au­di­ence that a meet­ing with Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad would lead to “anti-Semitic rants and a world­wide au­di­ence for a man who de­nies the Holo­caust.”

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