Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sarah Palin, Republican Candidates and Israel

Potential Republican presidential candidate and supplier-in-chief of late-night comedians' material Sarah Palin is arriving in Israel today for a short visit. Is she trying to gain more of the Jewish vote by coming here? I doubt it. I don't think she's very popular among Jews, even the Republican ones. This trip is probably more about being able to say that not only does she understand Eastern Europe because she can see Russia from her house, she can understand the Middle East because she spent two days in Israel.

Palin will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening for dinner. I bet she won't pressure him on construction in the settlements - a policy she'd continue as president. Of course, there's absolutely no chance in hell she'd actually ever become president.

It is more important to look into the Middle East policies of Republicans with better chances of winning the nomination. I don't think anybody has done that yet - and it is way too early for me to start doing candidate-by-candidate profiles. I can say this: It seems like there are roughly two categories of Republicans who both support Israel strongly (Ron Paul being the exception to the rule), but members of one group would, as president, continue supporting whatever Israel's right wing government does, and the others would seem to be more willing to pressure Israel after the election. I'd put Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in the first category and Mitt Romney in the second. There are a bunch of other Republicans whose Middle East policy is unknown to me, but I'm sure it will become clearer as time goes by.

I must say I prefer the latter, "friendly but nudging towards negotiations and peace" policy over the hawkish one.

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