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MSNBC reports that Gov. Palin gave a private audience yesterday to the entire board of directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, with Joe Lieberman as the master of ceremonies:

A campaign official would not say who asked for the meeting, but said it was geared towards putting the American Jewish community at ease over her understanding of US-Middle East relations.  

"That's obviously going to be an issue," the aide said. "It's not like being the senator from New York, obviously. But these aren't issues that are off her radar.

But I'm wondering if the problem isn't so much that Israel has been off her radar but rather that at some point in her past the Jewish state was on it -- in a way that won't do her or McCain any good now.

Maybe it was just another routine panderfest with an influential interest group -- for all we know Palin and the McCain campaign are also conducting round-the-clock briefings for Big HMO, Big Pharma, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco (and, who knows, maybe even for her alleged Alaska nemisis, Big Oil) to reassure them all that Sarah is down with the program.

But I do wonder about it. In the middle of the biggest media shitstorm of the campaign so far, with reporters baying at her heels on a host of personal and political issues, and her career on the line, Palin makes time to meet with the entire board of AIPAC? This at a time when her handlers are telling the world she's too busy prepping for her big debut to do anything else?

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not trying to stoke any Elders of Zion-style paranoia here. But it does seem excessive. Was it, by chance, a damage control exercise? Is it possible that Sarah (the pre-celebrity Sarah, that is) made some comments that could be construed as hostile to Israel and/or the American Jewish community?

We already know about the visit to Palin's church from David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus (given Christianity's bloody record, I could argue that "Chickens for Col. Sanders" would be about as appropriate a name, but I guess we're supposed to be beyond that now -- or so Revs Roberston and Dobson keep telling me.)

Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

Sure, that kind of talk can (and should) ring all kinds of historical alarm bells. But was it really so bad -- and so directly tied to Palin -- that the entire AIPAC board had to be airlifted to St. Paul to be stroked and comforted?

Maybe. We are talking about the the 51st state, after all (not to mention a critical block of votes in the 27th).

But, given that she's an ex-Pat Buchanan supporter with ties to some of the more, um, colorful elements of Alaska right-wing politics -- which tends to be as paleolithic as its Ice Age locale -- and given that the Christian's Right's love affair with Israel is of fairly recent vintage, and still hasn't reached some of the Kingdom of God's remoter parishes, I wouldn't be at all surprised if an old video or audiotape surfaces that would not wear well at the next B’nai B’rith meeting. Maybe Sarah's meeting with "the lobby" was a preemptive strike against the next wave of media hysteria.

I've absolutely no evidence of this, mind you – it’s just a hunch. (Or, if you prefer, another vicious smear from the "angry left". ANGRY, ANGRY ANGRY!)  

Still, I’m not going to apologize for speculating –- not when the question of Obama’s commitment to Israel has been such a frenetic obsession on the right. After all, we can’t be too careful when the security of America's dearest Middle East ally (or at least, our dearest Middle East ally that doesn’t have oil) is at stake, right?

Besides, a we've already learned, there's no telling what might fall out of the Sarah tree, once you start shaking it.

Originally posted to billmon on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 10:44 AM PDT.

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