Ever since her first appearance in the national spotlight, Sarah Palin has garnered mild affection from the Jewish community for her frequent shout-outs to Israel (especially via Twitter and Facebook) and critiques of President Obama’s policies in the Middle East, most recently regarding the flotilla incident. But her social media war against Obama’s policies has taken a Hitleresque turn, and now some are crying foul.
In the space of 140 characters, Palin may have successfully undone whatever goodwill she was building in the Jewish community. “This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab,” she tweeted on June 25th regarding the BP oil spill, directing her almost 200,000 Twitter followers to an article by prominent conservative Thomas Sowell, in which he ominously warns that American democracy is being dismantled and then uses the BP escrow fund to compare the Obama administration to Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The blowback was swift: The Democratic National Committee took the opportunity to castigate Palin in an official statement that called her implied agreement with Sowell “troubling,” and pundits pointed to her recommended reading as irresponsible. (Interestingly, Palin seems to be taking more heat than Sowell himself.)
“I don’t think it’s an offhand mistake,” David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, told the Forward. “It fits in a pattern of insane, persistent, abusive Holocaust rhetoric that has become part and parcel of the conservative movement.”
Even Palin’s natural supporters were hardly rushing to her defense on this particular issue. Benyamin Korn, the director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, reiterated his support for Palin, calling her “a tremendous force in American politics.” But he stopped short of defending the article. For Korn, the offending tweet was simply “an error” – albeit a serious one.
“What Sowell said, from a Jewish point of view, is really indefensible,” Korn said. “The Jewish community must be united in repudiating false analogies to Hitler and the Nazis. It cheapens the public discourse.”
As for Palin, a mere eight hours after posting the Sowell link, she tweeted her defense. “Lamestream media: I never compared Obama to Hitler,” she wrote. “Quit making things up.”