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Palin And The Jewish (republican) Question

I just had a conversation with a Republican activist who's well-connected in the Jewish community. As I walked up, he was debating a Democratic counterpart (via Blackberry) about Palin's Jews for Jesus encounter, arguing that it's far, far less damning than Jeremiah Wright is for Obama. That may have been true based on what we knew an hour ago, but I wonder how he'll feel about this new discovery via Andrew. It sounds like Palin's pastor has much closer, much longer-standing Jews for Jesus ties than we'd realized...

His take on Palin was that cultural alienation would be the biggest hurdle for Jews. "[Republican-leaning] Jews* are extremely provincial voters," he told me. "They vote on comfort level. Obama made them uncomfortable. Not because he was black--though that was part of it. But because of Wright. Palin injected onto the other ticket a note of the same alien-ness. That's a loss."

For what it's worth, this person made clear to me that the cultural alienation involved more than just religion. After all, he said, Palin could turn out to be an evangelical in the mold of George W. Bush (i.e., philo-semitic and very pro-Israel), whom Jewish Republicans embraced. What he had in mind was more class-related. "There's definitely the low-rent factor," he sighed. For what it's worth, he circled back to this theme several times, and that was the most diplomatic way he put it.

In his telling, Jewish Republicans were initially very excited about Palin, then concerned as the various revelations trickled out. He was, however, optimistic that the next wave of sentiment could be positive if Palin performs well tonight and in her coming encounters with the media.

*By "Republican-leaning Jews" I mean Jews who'd consider voting for a Republican, but who aren't necessarily Republicans themselves.

--Noam Scheiber