Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin calls itself a group of “academic, religious and political leaders, dedicated to promoting consideration of Gov. Sarah Palin’s political positions in the wider American Jewish community,” but for now, publicly, the start-up is just one man.
Binyamin Korn, a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, tells TPMDC the group has been in the works for “months” but he and some as-yet unnamed colleagues decided to launch it now in response to “the escalation of rhetoric from the White House” on Israel.“We have taken this position because Governor Palin to our eyes is mainstream, charismatic, and she seems to get under the president’s skin effectively,” says Korn, the former executive editor of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent. “This is not a question of questioning anybody’s Jewish bona fides or their Jewish intentions. This is a question of being opposed to policies, political positions, and ideas about what is really right and good and the best way to go.”
Since the group’s Web site, JewsForSarah.com launched Friday evening, it’s gotten thousands of hits, Korn says. (The graphics on the site include the below picture of a rifle-wielding Palin.)
Palin is known as a hardliner on Israel-Palestine, recently referring to new construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem as a “minor zoning decision.” Despite the fact that she was a blank slate on Middle East issues before her nomination to be VP in 2008, Palin — whose top adviser is Randy Scheunemann, a longtime neoconservative foreign policy hand — has become increasingly vocal in support of both a more hostile line against Iran and of the policies of Israel’s Likud government.
A lengthy note posted on Palin’s Facebook page in March blasted Obama and called for a “reset” of his Israel policy.
Despite her support for the Jewish state, Palin has scored low approval ratings among Jewish voters — just 37% approval in an American Jewish Committee poll taken late in the 2008 election. “We aim to change that,” Korn says.
He dismisses those, including the Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, who have been spooked by Palin’s use of rhetoric that hints at a belief in a “regathering” of Jews in Israel preceding the return of Jesus Christ and Jews’ “conversion to Christianity and their mass death in the battle of Armageddon.” (See video below.)
Said Korn: “Jeffrey Goldberg can write what he wants … but if a person is going to be fair about this, and you want to raise questions about the religious motivations of a politician let us start with the 44th president,” he said, referring to the controversy surrounding President Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
“I’m not even talking about any Muslim implications here, but given his policies, you wonder,” Korn added. “I accept at face value that he’s a Christian, but then why do you bow to the king of Saudi Arabia?”
Korn said there are “less than a handful” of people who currently do work for Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin. In the next couple weeks the group plans to unveil a list of supporters. He said they have had no contact with Palin or her associates.
Here’s Palin talking to Barbara Walters in November about how more Jews will be “flocking” to Israel in the “days and weeks and months ahead,” leading to a justified expansion in Jewish settlements in the West Bank: