Sarah visits Israel. Oy vey!
Sarah Palin visited the Holy Land recently.
Her’s was something of a hurried visit - lots of making sure she was in the right place at the right time and chatting with the right people, (with an emphasis on “right.”)
Ms. Palin, (like President Barack Obama), is a committed Christian. She has expressed her support for Israel in the past, (although she’s also made some rather odd statements demonstrating an unfortunate lack of familiarity or sensitivity with things Jewish.)
Whatever her declared intentions for visiting Israel last week, Palin was simply doing what every serious campaigning politician does. She was kowtowing to the first of the three “I’s” — Israel, Ireland, and Italy. If you want to be successful in politics, you have to make the appropriate “pilgrimages” at the appropriate time.
Palin made all the right moves in Israel.
She met with Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu.
She visited a bunch of the holy places.
And she wore a Star of David necklace.
Palin also got to visit the Western Wall.
While there, she was given a rundown of the political issues surrounding this place so important to believers of the three major monotheistic religions - but certainly to the Jews.
Her guide, the right-wing Israeli politician Danny Danon, of the Likud Party, (the Israeli equivalent of the GOP), told her that Jews and Christians were not allowed to pray in the area that is now home to the El Aksa Mosque and the famous Dome of the Rock.
Palin was indignant. She got even testier when told that Christians couldn’t openly carry Bibles while visiting within the confines of the Muslim holy place.
“Why are you apologizing all the time?” said the former governor while listening to explanations of the complex geo-political situation.
Danon was giggly.
“She didn’t go into diplomatic issues, but I can clearly say ... that she knows that we are right and that the Muslims are just claiming things for provocation and they’re not right,” he told reporters after the visit.
Of course, Danon didn’t tell Palin the whole story — that it wasn’t only the Islamic authority who didn’t want Jews, (or Christians for that matter), holding prayer meetings on what is called by some “the Temple Mount.”
Jewish Rabbinical authorities have also passed down rulings forbidding Jews from visiting the area.
Here’s the deal ... the Muslim mosque complex Palin was so concerned about is situated on the site of what Jews and many Christians believe was the location of The Temple — the one built first by Solomon and later rebuilt by Herod.
This is not “a temple.” It is “The Temple.”
The one visited by Jesus.
It’s a pretty important place, (if you’re impressed by important real estate.)
Being the traditional location of The Temple, it also is the site of the Holy of Holies.
Back in the day, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. It was where God’s earthly throne sat. This was the place where God communicated with His people through the High Priest — and then only once a year.
For anyone other than the High Priest, to enter the Holy of Holies was to die.
Today, even though there is widespread belief that the Temple stood where the Dome of the Rock is now located, religious authorities aren’t sure where everything was exactly situated. They don’t know exactly where the Holy of Holies was and are concerned with folks just kinda wandering higgly-piggly through the holiest space, in the holiest place on Earth.
So, at the entrance to the Mosque complex, there are huge signs in Hebrew and English, strictly forbidding any Jew to walk through or even visit the site.
This IS NOT a warning from Islamic officials who control the site, but rather from the Jewish Rabbinical authority.
Danny Danon didn’t tell Ms. Palin that little tidbit.
He also didn’t point out how women are forbidden to pray with men at the Western Wall. He didn’t tell her how Jewish women are relegated to one tiny corner of The Wall’s public area, while men have the lion’s share of the worship plaza to themselves, not having the sanctity of the site “polluted” by the sound of a female voice.
He didn’t tell her Jewish women have actually been arrested for reading from Torah scrolls at The Wall.
All he told her was the stuff Americans love to hear about Muslims.
Folks tell the story they want to tell, and hear the story they want to hear.
Following her visit to the Western Wall, Palin told reporters, “It’s overwhelming to be able to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith.”
What still interests me is the Star of David necklace.
Palin isn’t Jewish. So who was she trying to impress?
With all her trappings of support for Israel, my guess is Ms. Palin was actually trying to suck up to her Evangelical “base.”
She still needs the Evangelicals to help her carry the day — if her day ever comes.
That’s why she suddenly has the Star of David thing going on.
And who knows. Maybe in the near future other potential presidential hopefuls will make their trek to the Holy Land.
Mike Huckabee will tie a Kabbalah string on his wrist.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will wear a custom knit yalmuke.
Tim Pawlenty will toss a handsewn prayer shawl over his shoulders.
Mitt Romney, however, doesn’t need to worry. He’s Morman, and they claim to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel anyway.
Mitt should feel right at home.