Palin at Kotel tunnel: Israel too apologetic

Despite informal, private visit, likely US presidential candidate and husband to have dinner with Netanyahu.

By MELANIE LIDMAN, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 20, 2011 21:03
3 minute read.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin at Kotel

Sarah Palin at Kotel 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

 
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Former American vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly on the Temple Mount on a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, officials who accompanied Palin said.

Palin and her husband Todd arrived for a two-day visit on Sunday afternoon and toured the Western Wall and its adjacent tunnels. They will visit the Old City again on Monday, tour Gesthsemane and the Mount of Olives, and have dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at their official residence in Jerusalem.

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Netanyahu has already met in Jerusalem over the last two months with a number of leading US politicians considered as likely candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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World Likud chairman and Likud MK Danny Danon and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz served as Palin’s tour guides on Sunday night. Palin was told that Jews were not allowed to pray openly on the Temple Mount and about the Arab riots that accompanied Netanyahu’s decision to authorize the creation of an exit from the Western Wall tunnels in 1996.

“Why are you apologizing all the time?” Palin asked her guides.

Palin expressed regret that she would not be able to visit Nazareth or Bethlehem during her brief stay in Israel, but promised that she would soon come back for longer.

“It’s overwhelming to be able to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith,” Palin told reporters upon exiting the tunnels. “I’m so thankful to be able to be here, and I’m thankful to know the Israel-American connection will grow and strengthen as the peace negotiations continue.”

Rabinowitz said that Palin prayed at the point closest to the Holy of Holies and left a note with a personal prayer. Unlike the incident that occurred when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Western Wall in July 2008, nobody removed her note from the Wall and gave it to the press.



“She said that she absolutely supports Israel and that America is the biggest friend that Israel has,” Rabinowitz said.

When Rabinowitz shared the story of Purim with Palin, she told him it was especially meaningful to be at the Kotel on Purim.

Danon said that Palin’s visit to the Western Wall Tunnels was very exciting.

“She really connected to the story of the Jewish nation,” Danon said. “She knows the material but there’s nothing like standing in front of those big stones and hearing about the connection. I know that she loves Israel, and after a visit like this, she has a personal connection to the Western Wall.”

He called upon Obama to make his first visit to Israel as president as soon as possible.

Palin, who was wearing a large Star of David, told Danon that she had flags of Israel “on my desk, in my home, all over the place” and that she would carry around a flag she bought in Israel.

“She didn’t go into diplomatic issues, but I can clearly say from the questions she asked in relation to our conflict here with the Muslims in these holy sites that she knows that we are right and that the Muslims are just claiming things for provocation and they’re not right,” Danon said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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