A Jews for Palin Shabbaton

A Jews for Palin Shabbaton

A group of Jewish fans of Sarah Palin has come under fire for supporting a pro-life event featuring the former Alaska governor and presidential wannabe.

Some 50 people will be holding a “Jews for Sarah” shabbaton in Bethesda in conjunction with Heroic Media, an anti-abortion group. The April 29-30th Shabbaton will feature glatt kosher meals for $650 per person.

David Streeter of the National Jewish Democratic Council, writing in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, says the event is “further proof of the distance between rumored 2012 Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the vast majority of American Jews.” And, because an ad for the event in the Washington Jewish Week doesn’t mention Heroic Media, he adds “it’s not only a demonstration of Palin’s extremist positions on women’s rights, but also an indication that even her own supporters know that her extremist positions must be masked in order to engage Jews.”

Jews naturally love the underdog. So for Jewish Americans with a conservative bent, it makes sense that they might gravitate to Palin as she struggles to gain traction in the Republican presidential field.

The man behind Jews for Sarah Palin is Binyomin Korn, formerly the editor of the Philadephia Jewish Exponent and, before that, the Miami Jewish Tribune and a past leader of the Zionist Organization of America.

Korn, 55, of Philadelphia was a fan of Palin going back to her speech at the 2008 Republican convention, but says his support for her only grew when she came under attack early this year for language some blamed for a climate of hate after Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot.

Korn said in a brief phone interview Friday that people were coming to the Shabbaton from as far away as California and even London to hear Palin’s speech and is grateful that his organization is getting some attention.

“We’re waiting for the Soros checks to arrive,” he quipped, in a reference to ultra left-wing billionaire George Soros’s covert support for the J Street lobby.

He said the first Jews for Sarah were William Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Net Hentoff of the Village Voice who wrote favorably about her before she came to national prominence as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

As the media spotlight focused on Palin during that campaign, Korn says, she faced forced within the GOP that tried to marginalize her because she was getting more attention than McCain.

“I felt the way people talked about her and wrote about her was just scandalous,” says Korn.

Korn sees her as “the most effective critic of the president” and his approach to the Middle East peace process that focuses on Israeli settlements. “They are afraid of her in the Obama camp,” said Korn, who said she has “tremendous sophisticated knowledge of modern Israel.”

It’s likely that Barack Obama won’t get the same record support he received from Jews in 2008, both because of the Israel issue and because of natural trailoff in a re-election after a stormy tenure. There is some potential for Republicans to gain inroads among Jews, and it will be interesting to see if Palin can catch a substantial chunk of that vote. Given her tendency toward poor performance in substantive issue discussions, it seems a long shot.

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