Palin Under Fire from Democrats

Jewish Democrats slam John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, while her Jewish Alaskan constituents strongly endorse her.

Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel ,

“For all visiting candidates, as the mayor Sarah Palin wore a button out of courtesy. In fact, she was a supporter of Steve Forbes in that election.”
Sharp reactions have surfaced over John McCain's nomination of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate for the 2008 presidential elections. Jewish US Congressman Robert Wexler criticized McCain's Friday announecement of his choice, saying that it is an insult to Jews. Meanwhile, Jewish supporters from Palin’s home state defend her.

Wexler, an ultra-left representative from Florida, alleged that Palin endorsed Pat Buchanan in the 2000 presidential race. Wexler's assertion stems from a 1999 report from the Associated Press, which claimed that Palin wore a Buchanan button in Buchanan’s 1996 visit to the town in which Palin was Mayor.

“John McCain's decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for President in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans,” he  said. "Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel, even going as far as to denounce bringing former Nazi soldiers to justice and praising Adolf Hitler."

Palin Actually Supported Buchanan Opponent, not Buchanan
Kory Bardash, spokesperson for Republicans Abroad in Israel, told INN that allegations that Palin supported Buchanan are patently false. “For all visiting candidates, as the mayor Sarah Palin wore a button out of courtesy.  In fact, she was a supporter of Steve Forbes in that election,” he pointed out.

Buchanan has stated that Palin did indeed support him, but it is not clear whether she supported him for his domestic agenda or his foreign policy, which included stridently anti-Israel views.

Palin Enjoys Support of her Jewish Constituents
Leaders from Alaska’s 4,000-strong Jewish community, however, told reporters that Palin enjoys good relations with the community. They pointed out that during her term as governor, Palin met with David Akov, Israel’s Consul General for the Pacific Northwest Region of the US.

The two reportedly discussed cooperation between Israel and Alaska on such issues as counter-terrorism initiatives. During the meeting Akov invited Palin to his home country, which she said she would like to visit, and the governor told the diplomat that her state’s residents love Israel.

The National Jewish Democratic Council also criticized McCain’s choice of running mate, which the Republican candidate announced Friday. The Council said that McCain's judgment appears "lacking."

"Today, Senator John McCain made his first critical decision with his selection of his vice presidential running mate. In Governor Sarah Palin, McCain chooses a running mate with zero foreign policy experience and a brewing scandal which is being investigated by the Alaska state legislature," said Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the group in a Saturday statement.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, on the other hand, voiced a very positive reaction to McCain's selection of a running mate, commending McCain for his good judgment and stating that his choice reflects his commitment to challenging the status quo of politics.

"As governor of Alaska, Palin has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Alaska's Jewish community. She has demonstrated sensitivity to the concerns of the community and has been accessible and responsive," said Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the pro-Republican Jewish group.

"Palin has a proven track record of experienced and principled leadership. Palin has been a leader on the critical issue of energy independence and lessening our need to buy oil from nations not sharing American and Israel's foreign policy," he added.

Allegations from Democrats Insulting to Voters' Intelligence
“What is absurd is that Sarah Palin wore a button one time and Barack Obama sat in a church of an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel preacher and absorbed his teachings for over 20 years,” said Bardash, adding, “I leave it to the intelligence of the voter to determine who has a more troubling record.”

Bardash wished to remind people that “Obama’s associations with ex-terrorist [William] Ayers and pro-Palestinian Arab radicals are of great concern to democrats and republicans alike.” His group helps American citizens register for US elections in Israel, and he noted that “most people contacting our group to vote are registered Democrats that are crossing over to vote for the pro-Israel candidate, John McCain.”

Turning his attention to Obama’s choice for running mate, Bardash warned that “Joe Biden’s sketchy record vis-à-vis the threat that Iran poses should be troubling for all Americans in Israel and in the US.”