Sarah Palin's Jewish Problem

By | Jan 16, 2011

By Symi Rom-Rymer

By now, anyone with access to the internet will know about the latest furor in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tuscon: Sarah Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’ in her first official statement since the shooting.  In a rare demonstration of unity, her choice of words, with their inescapable echoes of past violence by Christians against Jews, drew immediate condemnation.   Jewish organizations across the political spectrum came out with critical statements from Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who agreed with her position but regretted her choice of words to Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of the liberal Israel lobbying group JStreet, who simply denounced her statement.

As concerning as it is that ‘blood libel’ can be now ripped from its historical moorings and used by anyone in any context, even more concerning is Palin’s interactions with the American Jewish community.  Her questionable rhetoric would not be as big an issue if Palin were not considering a Presidential run in 2012.  But according to numerous news reports, she is.  In a recent article in the Washington Post, she is reportedly taking steps “to build a more substantive political identity. The strategy, in which Palin intends to step up her involvement in public policy debates and embark on overseas trips to nations such as Israel, is in its early stages.”

While for many Jews, her candidacy would be unappealing—the majority of American Jews traditionally vote democratic—for other, more conservative Jews, Palin’s entrance and engagement on the political scene are seen with great excitement.  Benyamin Korn, director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, is one such example.   In a recent op-ed in The Jewish Week, he asserted that a growing number of “Jewish intellectuals” are demonstrating public support for her and her ideas.   “[Joseph] Lieberman, [William] Kristol, [Seth]Lipsky, and [John] Podhoretz are sophisticated, educated, thinking Jews who appreciate Palin’s heartfelt support for Israel, her forceful and informed advocacy for energy independence, her strong stance on national security,” Korn wrote.  “All are bellwethers of the increasing respect for Sarah Palin amongst us – the educated and affluent American Jews.”

But whether or not you agree with Palin’s views on energy or national security, her statements on issues most crucial to American Jews call into question whether she would be a genuine friend to American Jews as president.  First of all, despite in a now famous interview with Barbara Walters, Palin made clear that she supported Israel and its settlement expansion not for historical or even moral reasons but because it fit with her view of Israel as the staging ground for the End Times.  The idea that she could base crucial policy decisions—policy decisions that affect not only American Jews, but our co-religionists in Israel— on her religious beliefs demonstrates a deeply disturbing lack of intellectual maturity for any type of political position, let alone President of the United States.

Second, Palin has repeatedly insisted that America is a Christian nation.  Her rigidity on this topic rejects not only the fundamental American philosophy of the separation between church and state, but also effectively negates the role Jews and Judaism has played in shaping the United States.  Beyond the glaring inaccuracies Palin’s statement demonstrate, it also shows little respect or understanding of the history of religious minorities in this country and the freedom that they have found here to worship according to their own religious traditions and principles;  something Jewish Americans do not take for granted.

Finally,  we come full circle back to her blood libel comment.  Jewcy, the sly online magazine, recently posted a piece entitled, “New Stupid Things Sarah Palin Could Say.”  Among the suggestions were, “this is a pogrom of justice” and “the lamestream media is committing a Shoah against me.”  While masked in humor, author Jason Diamond addresses a critical problem: words and phrases have historical import and powerful contemporary force.  Like the word ‘Nazi’ which has evolved from its original meaning into a simplistic catch-all word to describe a control freak (i.e. Soup Nazi or Heath Nazi), ‘blood libel’ poses the danger of devaluing the deep and powerful legacy of the Jews and others who fought so hard to expose that kind of thinking of what it is: aggressive and irresponsible fear mongering.  To treat the phrase with such flippancy, as Palin did, and then to ignore calls to acknowledge its historical meaning demonstrates once again little understanding of or sympathy for American Jews and the core American values she claims to embrace.

If Sarah Palin decides to run for President in 2012, she will no doubt come under even greater scrutiny.  As American Jews, our work is cut out for us.  Even if you agree with her views on energy or the economy or abortion, demand accuracy and respect when it comes to Jews and Jewish history.  For those who disagree with her, get your placards ready.  2012 is just around the corner.

9 thoughts on “Sarah Palin's Jewish Problem

  1. Rachel Tabachnick says:

    This is the tip of the iceberg. Palin repeatedly thanks her “prayer warriors” around the nation. Although this term can be generic, in this context it is not. Through the church where she was raised, Wasilla Assembly of God, and participation in a “prayer warrior” network since she was 24, Palin has had extensive exposure to a rapidly growing movement emerging from the Charismatic branch of evangelicalism. This movement now calls itself the “apostolic and prophetic” or “New Apostolic Reformation.” There are prayer warrior networks in the movement in all fifty states, some organized by precincts, and all under the authority of leading “apostles”

    Setting aside Palin’s personal beliefs for a moment, the New Apostolic Reformation networks around the country view her as one of their own and disseminated numerous prophecies during the 2008 election from their leaders, including the Alaskan apostle who claims to be Palin’s mentor, concerning her “anointing” by God for political service. These apostolic and prophetic leaders believe that they are leading a new reformation of the Protestant church in preparation for the end times. I won’t go into the theological details here, but their beliefs are built around the idea that they must take “Christian Dominion” over the government and society before Jesus can return. This includes an international network of support for Messianic Jewish ministries in Israel. They believe that Jesus can not return until Messianic (converted) Jews call from Israel for him to come as Messiah.

    Note that many of John Hagee’s Chrisitans United for Israel (CUFI) directors and host churches are part of this apostolic and prophetic movement and provide support for Messianic ministries in Israel (despite the fact that Hagee personally teaches a different prophecy timeline). There is more information on the New Apostolic Reformation at

  2. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi says:

    Both parties are corrupt to the core.
    What did Veterans Today say?
    What did Gordon Duff say?
    the fed

  3. Vlady says:

    There is a very interesting piece in the “Commentary”

    It has quite a few shrewd observation of the media and perceptions of Palin among Jewish Americans. One of them is quite congruent to my own sense of reality:

    “In a real sense, by the way she lives and the style she has adopted, Sarah Palin is the precise reverse image of an American Jewish professional woman. The two are polar opposites. The repulsion is almost magnetic in nature.”

  4. LeChaim says:

    C’mmon, the USA is a Christian country, let’s not kid ourselves about this. If it weren’t, Christmas would have been celebrated like Rosh Hashana, Chinese New Year, etc. And with all due respect (I am Jewish, Israeli), Jews should not go around claiming “copy rights” on terms like “blood libel.” The Commentary piece Vlady (above) mentioned ( points to so many distortions in the way Sarah Palin is depicted in the media. For all I know, Sarah Palin is a friend and supporter of Israel, and that makes her a friend and supporter of American Jews, even if they don’t like it. (Yes, Jews all around the world, including in the US, are safer and more secure when Israel is safe, secure, and strong!) You don’t ask a friend and supporter “what are your reasons for supporting us?”

  5. joe fields says:

    hello to all,

    who really cares?
    this article tries to sound smart but brings up
    trivial stuff to support the argument.
    i do not get it.

    joseph fields

  6. Vintage says:

    What a shameless article! Sarah Palin’s bashing here feels anti-Waspish. If she isn’t one of “ours”–neither by blood, by religion, nor by being picked and nurtured by us, then she can’t be any good or, even, decent? You treat her as the ultimate “other.” Symi, read what you’ve written.

    As for using “blood libel” expression. Hasn’t she been accused of causing the shooting? What’s not bloody about it? If ever the was a correct way to appropriate the expression, hers was it.

  7. william says:

    I don’t like the photo of sarah

  8. Marc says:


    David Letterman’s hate is as old as some ancient Hebrew prophets.
    Speaking of anti-Semitism, it’s Jerry Falwell and other fundy leaders who’ve gleefully predicted that in the future EVERY nation will be against Israel (an international first?) and that TWO-THIRDS of all Jews will be killed, right?
    Wrong! It’s the ancient Hebrew prophet Zechariah who predicted all this in the 13th and 14th chapters of his book! The last prophet, Malachi, explains why this future Holocaust will outdo even Hitler’s by stating that “Judah hath dealt treacherously” and “the Lord will cut off the man that doeth this” and asks “Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?”
    Haven’t evangelicals generally been the best friends of Israel and persons perceived to be Jewish? Then please explain the recent filthy, hate-filled, back-stabbing tirades by David Letterman (and Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman) against leading evangelicals like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, and explain why most Jewish leaders have seemingly condoned Palin’s continuing “crucifixion”!
    While the above anti-evangelical haters are tragically turning comedy into tragedy, they are helping to speed up and fulfill the Final Holocaust a la Zechariah and Malachi, thus helping to make the Bible even more believable!
    For other unusual goodies on Google, type in “Obama Fulfilling the Bible,” “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day,” “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” and “Stamping Out Harold Camping.”

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