Friday, September 5, 2008

Palin on Israel: the Bible Tells Me So

Last year Senator McCain was forced to distance himself from fundamentalist televangelist John Hagee. At issue was Hagee's anti-Catholic statements. McCain did not, however, denounce the extremist views Hagee holds on Israel, which are based on a theology called dispensationalism. Dispensationalists believe that the creation of the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophesy leading to a series of events which will bring history to its divinely appointed end. Support for Israel in this case becomes a divine imperative, a support which includes a strong opposition to any kind of negotiations that would involve territorial compromise. To dispensationalists like Hagee, Israel has the right to all of the land under dispute, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even though Israelis themselves believe that some territorial compromise is needed to bring peace to the region.

John Hagee is a pastor in an Assemblies of God church, the same denomination in which Sarah Palin was raised. Whether or not this means she would approve of Hagee's extremist views is not at this point known. But it is something that needs to be explored. The first step in this direction has been taken by a reporter for the Washington Times. Here's what he has to say:



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ST. PAUL, Minn. | Sarah Palin displays an Israeli flag in her governor's office in Juneau, even though she has never been to the country, and attends Protestant evangelical churches that consider the preservation of the state of Israel a biblical imperative.

Her faith makes her a favorite with the staunchly pro-Israel neoconservative elements in the Republican Party.

But other Republicans may be concerned that a John McCain-Sarah Palin administration will disregard the caution of former President George H.W. Bush and some of his top advisers and continue the tilt toward Israel.

Most Republicans and conservatives outside Alaska know little about Mrs. Palin's foreign policy views - on Israel or anything else.

But Tucker Eskew, who holds the title of counselor to Mrs. Palin in the McCain-Palin campaign, left no doubt where she stands.

"She would describe herself as a strong supporter of Israel's, with an understanding of Israel's fear of an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons," Mr. Eskew told The Washington Times.

In June, Mrs. Palin told ministry students at her former church that in going to war with Iraq, the United States is "on a task that is from God," the Associated Press reported.

Mrs. Palin's brand of evangelical Protestantism is especially well-disposed to the preservation of Israel for biblical reasons, said Merrill Matthews, an evangelical Christian and a Dallas-based health-policy specialist.

Mrs. Palin was baptized as a teenager at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church. She frequently attends the Juneau Christian Center, which is also part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God. Her home church is the Church of the Rock, an independent congregation.

"Historically, the Assemblies of God have been dispensationalists, which means they believe in 'the rapture' of Christians that takes them out of the world," said Mr. Matthews. "Central to that position is a very strong support for Israel. It's integral to their view of both prophecy and politics. Denying Israel is almost like denying the faith."

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