There is little Sarah Palin does that does not attract attention and analysis; the former Alaska governor makes international headlines with her 140 character tweets alone. So is it surprising that her choice in jewelry during her trip to Israel is the subject of media scrutiny?
Palin wore a Star of David, a traditional symbol of Jewish identity, around her neck during a brief visit this week to the holy land. The Jerusalem Post reported that Palin met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara and also toured religious sites, including the Western Wall. (Click here for a gallery of Palin and other politicians visiting the sacred site.)
Her visit to Israel may have been an intriguing political maneuver, but it was the sight of Palin, a Christian woman, wearing the Jewish symbol that has sparked the most discussion. When is a necklace more than a necklace? When it makes a ‘major statement’ on Christian support for Israel.
David Brog, the executive director of pastor John Hagee’s organization, Christians United for Israel, told The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta that wearing the Star of David is in vogue among Christian woman who support Israel:
“A lot of the folks in my organization, they wear Stars of David,” he noted. “Mainly the women.”
In CUFI circles, indeed, “it is increasingly common to wear one all the time,” Brog noted, and not just while visiting Israel.
To do so is seen as an expression of being “pro-Israel” and “philosemitic,” part and parcel with worshiping Jesus as a Jewish carpenter and honoring the Jewish roots of Christianity.
There are many reasons for the growing Christian support for Israel. But what do Jews think of Christians wearing their religious symbols? And how do they interpret Christian support for the Jewish state? Steven I. Weiss, writing for Slate in August 2010, put it this way:
Jews have long expressed strong reservations, even suspicions, about the Christian Zionist agenda: They frequently claim that Christian Zionists want us—in which I include circumcised, yarmulke-wearing people like me—in Israel as part of a scorched-earth Armageddon policy; that they’re only supporting Israel to further a right-wing anti-Muslim agenda; that they’re trying to convert Jews through this activity; or that they can’t be partnered with because of their other right-wing policies
Weiss disagrees with this interpretation of Christian motivation in Israel, writing instead that Christian support for Israel is driven by Christian love of the Jewish people, but adds that many Jews reject his assessment. Christian supporters of Israel have many motivations for their stance, but one frequently cited biblical passage includes this exchange --from God to Abraham --in the Book of Genesis:
“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” which some interpret to mean that Christians, and America at large, will be blessed if they support Israel.
How do you interpret Palin’s --and other American Christians’ --support of Israel? Can a Christian respectfully wear a Star of David?