DSC_0032Former Alaska governor and darling of the Religious Right and the tea party (which are increasingly one and the same) traveled to Israel, presumably to increase her appeal to religious Americans (as if that were possible … she’s already incredibly popular among US religionists). The (NY) Daily News reports on her trip and some of the comments she made while there (WebCite cached article):

Israel got its first official glimpse of Sarah Palin.

The former Vice Presidential candidate arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday as part of her whirlwind trip that many think is meant to bolster her foreign policy credentials leading up to a possible 2012 presidential run.

She made a transparent attempt to pass herself off as Jewish:

Sporting what appears to be a necklace with the Jewish symbol of a Star of David, the Alaska resident visited the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. …

“Israel is absolutely beautiful and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith and I am so grateful to be here,” the devout Christian told reporters.

Mrs Palin is not alone in viewing the Western Wall as the “cornerstone” of Christianity. The problem is, it’s not! It’s the cornerstone of Judaism, and only Judaism. It may be of some historical interest to Christians, but it is assuredly not the “cornerstone” of Christianity. That, I’m afraid, is none other than Jesus himself, as the Christian Bible itself states clearly:

He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. (Acts 4:11)

While Jesus and his first followers may have been Jewish, the religion they founded took a decidedly non-Jewish turn (if not an anti-Jewish one), and explicitly rejected the Jewish religious tradition, believing Mosaic Law to have been rendered obsolete by Jesus:

We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. … I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Galatians 2:15-16, 21)

The Temple, of which the Western Wall is presumed to have been a part, is perhaps the chief edifice and main symbol of Mosaic Law. Given this fact, there is no logical way any Christian could ever say that it’s the “cornerstone” of his or her faith.

In many other ways, Mrs Palin’s trip reflects what is known as Christian Zionism, a philosophy very common among evangelical Protestants (such as Mrs Palin). Christian Zionists adamantly support Israel … but not necessarily because they believe in that state or out of any love for Jews or Judaism. Most Christian Zionists are, rather, interested in creating an alliance with Jews against Muslims, and in agitating Israel into behaviors that — they think — will trigger Armageddon and thus bring on the Apocalypse. In other words, they’re motivated by self-interest and an obsession with “the End Times.”

While I’m not Jewish, and don’t know nearly as much about Judaism as perhaps I ought to, I find it distasteful to see Christians such as Mrs Palin essentially stealing Jewish tradition and using Judaism, Jews and Israel for their own mercenary purposes. It’s nearly as bad as the philosophy called British Israelism, which essentially defines Jews out of existence and grants their heritage to the British. (Yes, really. That movement, too, exists. For real. And it’s every bit as strange — and anti-Semitic — as I just made it sound.) This kind of wholesale intellectual and cultural theft really needs to end — the sooner, the better.

Photo credit: Mark Philpot.

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