Palin visits Israel in attempt to prove her foreign policy prowess
Former U.S. vice presidential candidate is set to visit Israel next week, where she will meet with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, following in the footsteps of other Republican presidential nominee hopefuls.
When the “Washington Post” columnist Dana Milbank proclaimed February the month of his personal moratorium on Sarah Palin related news, one of Palin’s aides just shrugged, saying “I wish him good luck with that”. The journalist admitted that he has a “Sarah Palin problem”, and according to his testimony, he has mentioned her in 42 columns since she became the Republican VP candidate.
Most of Milbank’s colleagues didn’t follow his lead, and every tweet about the former vice president candidate, every event she attended (or didn't show up to, with some speculating about her no-show at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC) and any hint that she may run for President in 2012 received extensive coverage.
In his March column, Milbank wrote about his Palin-free month, saying that he had nothing to worry about, because “Palin was not going to make real news in February, or, most likely, at any other time. At most, she was going to make noise -- enough to earn that $1 million Fox pays her a year”.
As the elections trail gets warmer with the first fundraising events and discussions are beginning about potential 2012 candidates, the attacks aimed at Palin, who did not announce a bid for presidency, have gotten harsh.
Ari Fleischer, the former spokesman to President George W. Bush, was quoted saying in Idaho “I cannot see any way, shape or form that she can win the Republican primary".
Palin has certainly made some mistakes, such as the “blood libel” accusation following the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt. Her popularity ratings among Republicans have dropped, but she has kept people guessing about whether she is going to run in the upcoming presidential race, something she apparently has been attempting to rectify.
Palin has presented an account of her political career in her autobiography “Going rogue”, in which she blames the failure of McCain’s campaign on the former presidential candidate's advisors. Palin claims that they did not allow her to speak to the press and later made every possible effort to make her look bad. Regardless of this, one of her indisputably weak points was her lack of foreign policy credentials.
In 2009, Palin visited Kosovo, Germany and Hong Kong and last year she went to Haiti. She also served as as a Fox news commentator on the recent events in New Zealand and Libya, criticizing the Obama’s Administration impotence in dealing with crises.
Palin has chosen to follow in the footsteps of many other potential Republican candidates, and will be travelling to Israel next week. This is acknowledged to be a surefire way to gain Republican popularity.
Palin is expecting a warm reception in Israel. The Alaska native, who received significant coverage in Israel during the elections, will surely make headlines and get a nice photo-op with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is in dire need of a break from the regional turmoil.
In every interview Palin gives following her helicopter trip in Israel, she will be able to say she saw how small and vulnerable the borders are and how important is that the US support its strongest ally in the Middle East.
Palin has been planning this visit for a long time, but Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee made it to Jerusalem before she had a chance.
In a statement on her website, Palin wrote “I'm thankful to be able to travel to Israel on my way back to the U.S. (from India, NM). As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel."
Former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block told “Haaretz” it’s “natural” for the presidential candidates from both Democratic and Republican parties to visit Israel “to get a first hand look at the challenges we face as sister democracies in a turbulent and vital region, given the depth and importance of our relationship with Israel to US national security - not to mention that some 80 percent of Americans say they are more likely to support candidates that are pro-Israel”.
The media analyst Steve Rabinowitz, who identifies with the Democratic camp, was more skeptical than Block, saying that "why prospective candidates for US president all go to Israel (if they've never been or if they haven't been in a very long time) are clear."
He explained, saying "they need the street cred', they need to enhance their foreign policy bona fides, and they need to gather anecdotes to use in order to better pander to the Jews. And the less known they are to the community or the less strong they're seen on foreign policy, the more important - even valuable - such a trip is."
The analyst emphasized that such a trip was particularly important for Palin, who has been scoffed for her comment in which she said that her knowledge of foreign policy was enhanced by Alaska's proximity to Russia. He also pointed out that Palin is in all likelihood may be the least popular Republican among US Jews, so a trip to Israel will definitely enhance her image amongst Jews.
Rabinowitz continued his scathing analysis of Palin's motives for travelling to Israel, saying that it will provide her with opportunity to be photographed with Prime Minister Netanyahu and visit Yad Vashem and the Kotel (The Western Wall), both necessities according to him of any first-time political visitor.
He concluded, saying "this all plays extremely well with the Christian right here, too - over one-fourth of whom make up the majority of the US Tea Party. So, it's a two-fer. The Jews, the Christian right/Tea Party and even a little foreign policy cred thrown in. "
He added that there is a lot of Republican Jewish money in America that she can capitalize on if she plays her cards right.
Rabinowitz then sarcastically wished Palin bon voyage, saying "Nesi'ah tovah (Safe journey), Governor Palin. Don't do any interviews!”