Grasping at Flags and Straws

Grasping at Flags and Straws
Elul 11, 5768, 11 September 08 11:49
by Ellen W. Horowitz

(IsraelNN.com) Last week Jewish Republicans were frantically prospecting for a Jew-friendly sign - any sign - in the great Northwest wilderness. And Eureka! A video clip revealed that Sarah Palin's office window sports a small, but noticeable, Israeli flag.

Perhaps it was a remnant left by a participant of last spring's Farthest North Jewish Film Festival in Fairbanks. But more likely, it's an Evangelical statement of support for the Jewish State.

Meanwhile, Jewish Democrats were desperately panning for a few nuggets of their own; and it seems they hit Pentecostal pay dirt in the form of Palin's recent attendance at a nasty Jews for Jesus sermon at her present church, and her spirited delivery of a commencement speech to young missionaries a few months ago at a church she had attended for decades.

The concept of a Jesus-loving, moose-hunting, hockey-Mom-turned-governor of Alaska, is far more goyishe than yiddishe - and makes for great Jewish humor. This is blockbuster sitcom material, and the comedians and cartoonists are having a field day which could possibly continue for years to come. But I've got a hunch that Palin has the true grit to ride this out.

Extraordinary as she is, Sarah Palin is only human. Her juggling political office and the campaign trail with a special-needs infant, soldier son, and unwed pregnant daughter engaged to a self-proclaimed "f-in' redneck", has given Americans on both sides of the political spectrum something to laud, laugh, cry and shrie about; because Sarah Palin is but a microcosm of everything that's great and embarrassing about America and the human condition.

So, lighten up Jewish Republicans, because al's fair in love and war. While Palin is sure to be admired, she will also be relentlessly lampooned by Comedy Central, harpooned by Greenpeace liberals, skinned alive by the people from PETA - not to mention ravaged by packs of howling, prowling media hounds out for blood.

In all seriousness, the prospects of a Pentecostal Vice President has increased the angst among some Americans who feel legitimately threatened by the persistent Evangelical battering of the sacred wall separating church and state. This Israeli mother, who does not vote in U.S. elections, is similarly concerned about maintaining a respectful distance and border between Judaism and Christianity; which has become increasingly difficult given the Evangelical Biblical spin on, and fusion of, "Judeo-Christian" values, heritage and faith.

Sarah Palin, the Great Mother of the North, appears to be both very capable and a tremendous asset to the McCain campaign, but she is not our savior - unless you're a "Jewish believer" in another "perfected" female fundamentalist by the name of Anne Coulter, who claims, "The survival of Israel is inextricably linked to the survival of the Republican Party and its Evangelical base."

That Sarah attends churches affiliated with the Assemblies of God is reason to make every Jew squirm, but her attending a sermon by a Jews for Jesus leader is less of a concern for Israelis than the more disturbing legislative meddling in Israel's affairs that we hope any prospective Evangelical Vice President will avoid.

  • There have been ongoing attempts by Capital Hill pro-lifers to influence Israel's stance and legislation on abortion and stem cell research.

  • Evangelical groups have repeatedly used the 1998 International Freedoms of Religion Act as a means to promote missionary activity, while preventing Israel from adopting and enforcing anti-missionary legislation. Religious freedom is also being used as grounds to bolster the case for "Messianic Judaism" (Christianity) in Israel, and in attempts to introduce changes in the Law of Return.

  • Accusations leveled by the State Department, ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) and Evangelical lobbyists have depicted Orthodox Jews as violent persecutors of the church and messianic groups in Israel.

In some respects, Israel's relationship with American Evangelicals takes on a certain Esauvian quality. Biblically, and quite literally, speaking, Sarah Palin is "a skillful hunter, a [wo]man of the field." She also has a hankerin' for large, hairy redheads that seems to be taken straight out of Genesis.

After blessing the Masters Commissions students in their mission to go out and "bring people in," she proceeds to say, "You guys are all a bunch of cool looking Christians.... People are going to be interested in Jesus Christ through you because of the way you look. This red-headed Sasquatch for Jesus.... You look good!"

The Wasilla trailer promoting the Masters Commission is downright dark and frightening with its special fiery effects and ominous voice-over proclaiming that the missionary program is "one of the keys in God's plan for Alaska, the United States and the entire world."

Sarah concludes her speech to the young missionary graduates by saying, "I grew up at Wasilla Assemblies of God. Nothing freaks me out about the worship service."

But it does "freak out" some Jews, because for us it is strange worship.

Sarah Palin is an entrenched Christian Fundamentalist who admittedly "grew up" in a church proclaiming the following beliefs:

WE BELIEVE... in The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. At that time many in the nation of Israel will recognize and accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior who died for them and all mankind.

WE BELIEVE... A Final Judgment Will Take Place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire.

Like our forefather Yitzchak, we Jews tend to be impressed to the point of blindness by those who can walk the walk and talk the talk. And because of our tendency to fall into traps, it behooves us to use the Talmudic approach of "respect and suspect" whether sizing-up Palin, Barack Obama or any other politician or preacher.

We must remember that neither the born-again status of George Bush, the Bible-teaching background of Jimmy Carter, nor Bill Clinton's bedside promises to his dying pastor regarding Israel have managed to invigorate or strengthen the Jewish State's position regionally or internationally.

Sarah Palin is an impressive figure who may put Mcain over the top. In that case, we hope she chooses to reach out to Israel in a positive manner. But if we don't keep our guard up, we may be witness to unwanted Christian "outreach" efforts and influence.

Permit me to get Biblical again. Some commentators see Yaakov's prayer - "Please save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav" - as an indication that he was more frightened of Eisav the loving brother and friend than of a violent Eisav. And our great teachers recognize that "all the actions of the forefathers are auguries for their descendants." With this in mind, it would appear that a polite and respectful insistence on a separation between the church and the State of Israel would be in keeping with our forefather Yaakov's footsteps.

When it comes to the American election, this Golan mother of six - who has been known to handle a Glock, a few goats and wrangling with a pet wolf - will watch from a distance, and hope and pray that the best man or woman wins. And like Yaakov, as a nation and as individuals we will have to turn inward, wrestle with our demons and come out on top - regardless of the changes in the U.S. administration.

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