News reports yesterday were chattering about Sarah Palin touring New York wearing a Star of David around her neck. Palin wore the same one when she toured Israel in March. Here’s an Associated Press video of Palin discussing the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty yesterday, while wearing the Star of David in question:
While Palin’s display of this particular piece of her jewelry collection in places where she would expect to encounter a lot of Jews looks like strictly Jewish pandering, it’s actually not at all uncommon among Christian Zionists—evangelicals who see Israel through the lens of biblical prophecy. Politically speaking, they couch their affection for Israel in terms of “love” and “support,” which may explain why Palin feels especially moved to display her alleged sympatico with the Jews in New York and Israel, but not, say, in Gettysburg. In reality, though (or at least in their reality), “love” of Israel is a biblical mandate, as Israel plays a vital and particular role in the Second Coming of Jesus.
In my travels with Christian Zionists, I’ve met plenty who wear Stars of David—and more, including wearing yarmulkes and tallit, purchasing Judaica like mezuzot and challah covers, referring to Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshuah Ha’Masiach, keeping Shabbat, having Bar Mitzvahs for their kids, rejecting the celebration of Christmas and Easter, and referring to themselves as “Hebraic Christians.” Many, including Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee, twist the sequence of Jewish holidays, from Passover in the spring through Sukkot in the fall, into their prism of biblical prophecy, insisting that each “feast,” as he calls it, foretells steps leading to the Second Coming. (Jesus will return, Hagee and others maintain, on Sukkot.) When Jesus returns, they believe, all followers of Christ will continue to celebrate these “feasts” and engage in Jewish ritual—so they’d best be prepared by practicing now. Don’t worry though—they’ll be raptured when the time is right, so they won’t have to endure the tribulation period, when they maintain believers will be persecuted by the Antichrist. Still, some Hebraic Christians I’ve met believe they will be part of the remnant, discussed in the Book of Revelation, who will not be raptured, but left behind to resist the Antichrist. They anticipate acting as modern-day apostles, bringing salvation to those left behind because they’re non-Christians, and who would, according to this narrative, otherwise perish when non-Christians are cast into a lake of brimstone when Christ vanquishes the Antichrist.
So is Palin pandering to the Jews, or adapting to trends in Christian Zionist wings of evangelicalism? Maybe both?