NEW YORK Vice presidential pick Sarah Palin says she doesnt share the views of a Jews for Jesus leader who in a speech at her church suggested that violence against Israelis resulted from G-ds judgment against Jews who have failed to embrace Jesus.
David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus, suggested in his Aug. 17 sermon at Wasilla Bible Church that the refusal to accept Jesus was responsible for the long history of devastation visited upon Jerusalem.
He also described his groups successful targeting of Israeli Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere. Judgment is very real, and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television, said Brickner, according to a transcript posted on the churchs website.
Its very real. When [my son] Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment some of that conflict when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment you cant miss it.
A spokesman for the McCain campaign, Michael Goldfarb, said Palin did not know Brickner would be speaking that day and did not share his views. Church pastor Larry Kroon confirmed that Palin, the governor of Alaska who was chosen last week by US Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to join his GOP presidential ticket, would have had no way of knowing that Brickner was slated to speak.
Governor Palin does not share the views he expressed, and she and her family would not have been sitting in the pews of this church for the last seven years if his remarks were even remotely typical, Goldfarb wrote in an e-mail.
Following Brickners sermon, Kroon took up an offering for Jews for Jesus and prayed that Jews would come to accept Jesus.
There is not a one here in this room who would know Jesus and serve him if there had not been a Jew, generations ago, that spoke Jesus name to our people, Kroon said. Father, that comes full circle and we wish to extend your grace back to your people. And we pray and we ask that as a result of this time here, and as a result of this offering, there will be people among the Jews today who come to say the name Jesus with faith.
Much attention has been focused on Palins religious views since McCain made her his surprise pick as running mate, a selection the campaign hoped would shore up his standing among social conservatives.
Many religious Republicans have embraced Palin. Some liberal commentators are suggesting that her hard-line position on abortion, her evangelical roots and lack of record on Israel may turn off Jewish voters who otherwise might be open to McCains more moderate image and hawkish foreign policy stance.
The ADL, which has been deeply critical of Jews for Jesus and was among the organizations calling for Democratic nominee Barack Obama to distance himself from his controversial pastor during the primaries, said it had no problem with Palins membership in a church that supported efforts to convert Jews.
The ADLs national director, Abraham Foxman, told JTA that Protestant evangelizing to Jews was entirely different from Catholics praying for Jewish conversion, which the ADL has sharply criticized.
They did not have the Inquisition. They did not go on a Crusade. They did not kill Jews for 2,000 years, Foxman said. They have a belief; theyre entitled to their belief.
Besides, he said, there is no evidence that Palin shares Brickners views.
If you could tell me that she approves of this guy, she invited him, Im not aware of any of that, Foxman said. The fact that she belongs to a church that believes in it, I dont have a problem.
The ADL has accused Jews for Jesus of aggressive proselytizing with a deceptive message.
Kroon took issue with that assessment, saying there was no difference between Jewish believers and believers of other backgrounds.
I dont feel its deceptive, Kroon told JTA. Look at Paul and Peter and the others they were Jews and believed in Jesus as the messiah. Theres gentile believers and theres Jewish believers that acknowledge Jesus as messiah. Theres Swedish believers.