Sarah Palin to Tour Israel, Christian-Style

Sarah Palin, the right’s Queen Esther, will visit Israel this week after a stop in India for the luminary-studded India Today Conclave—at which she will deliver a keynote address entitled “My Vision of America.”

Palin’s trip to Jerusalem and Nazareth (just after Purim, Queen Esther’s big moment in the Jewish calendar) is probably no more than the usual Republican political stopover to show solidarity for Israel. To her loyal followers, Palin’s pilgrimage will be one more sign not only of a potential presidential run, but of God’s divine hand on her life. Expect to see pictures of her praying at the Wailing Wall, as well as an uptick in her comments about her faith, the gospel, and the importance of the Jewish homeland.

Interestingly enough, according to Ben Smith at Politico, Palin booked the trip not through diplomatic channels, but through a Christian tour operator. That choice signals to me that this trip, although guaranteed to get much press for her meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is not only about her political credentials but her religious stature.

With Palin’s weekend visit to India and the Israel, speculation will continue as to whether she will be a candidate in 2012. Given that her schedule is beginning to fill in the next few months, it remains to be seen if she will throw her hat in the ring for 2012. What is clear though is that she is not going to play primary politics the same way that the other Republicans presidential hopefuls are. By continuing to take events that are either religious, patriotic, or pay-to-play dates, Palin can still suck all of the media air out of the room without declaring her intent, while her followers can organize underneath the eyes of the media glare.

Whatever Palin does on her Israel trip will be a signal to her supporters and detractors alike. No matter what the pollsters may say, this trip will be an important step in the reading of the tea leaves for a potential 2012 run.