Sarah Palin, Christian Zionist?
Is Sarah Palin counting on a mass migration of Jews to Israel as a precursor to the end of the world?
Boston attorney Michael Felsen, treasurer of the secular Jewish communal organization the Workmen’s Circle, has an interesting piece on the subject in this week’s Baltimore Jewish Times.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible contender for the top job in 2012, has been in the media to promote her new memoir. Felsen picks up on comments by Palin on Good Morning America last week in response to a question about the Obama administration’s opposition to Israeli expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
“I disagree with the Obama administration on that,” the former Alaska governor told interviewer Barbara Walters. “I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon because the population of Israel is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.”
Felsen, critical of Palin, accuses her of “going rogue in the West Bank.”
More and more Jewish people flocking to Israel? What’s Palin’s source of information? Since 2002—the year in which the major wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union came to an end—there has been a consistent downward trend in immigration to Israel. By 2006, immigration was down to 1980s levels, during which time 9,000-24,000 people immigrated annually. And in 2008, the number was 13,681, representing the lowest ratio of immigrants to Israelis since the establishment of the State – 1.9 immigrants per 1000 residents.
Felsen says Palin’s “declaration that Jews will flock to Israel ‘in the days and weeks and months ahead’—plainly at odds with statistical trends—has an eerily familiar ring.”
"In fact, it’s entirely consistent with the belief of “Christian Zionists” that a mass ingathering of Jews to Israel is the necessary prerequisite to the battle of good against evil at Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ," he writes. "As Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) puts it, 'We are racing to the end of time,' and more Jews (who, Christian Zionists believe, will either convert or face perdition) in all of historic Palestine are a key ingredient to fulfillment of that Biblical prophecy."
Felsen writes that the position of Palin and the Christian Zionists on the expanding settlements puts them at odds not only with the Obama administration, but every administration of the last 40 years.
"It’s troubling to think that Palin’s policy pronouncements on the Middle East might be even remotely motivated by apocalyptic beliefs," Felsen writes. "Expanding the settlements, if not a prelude to Armageddon, at a minimum significantly hampers, and perhaps even destroys any remaining prospect for a just and lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples."