When Sarah Palin shot back at critics who proposed that her severe -- and perhaps violence-suggesting -- rhetoric and campaigning helped inspire Jared Lee Loughner's massacre in Tuscon, she accused those critics of blood libel -- and started an entirely new firestorm in the process.
Palin's invoking of blood libel, which in its proper use refers to a centuries old lie that was used to justify mass anti-semitism and Jewish persecution, immediately drew angry responses from politicians and Jewish groups, but also brings back to the forefront her own religious affiliation -- and its not infrequent brushes with anti-semitism.
Palin, who makes no secret of her devout Christian evangelism, is a member of Wasilla Bible Church, which subscribes to the Pentecostal Assembly of God. It is a small community church, but one that has been the host to a number of controversial speakers -- with Palin both in the audience and openly participating.
But it starts earlier than that. Palin is a member of a spiritual network maintained by Mary Glazier, a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. A council of 500 "apostles," with each leader heading up its own network - like the one Palin is in - they seek to use "spiritual warfare" to retake the nation - and world - from the sinners they claim are currently running it.
In large part, they're referring to American Jews.
One Apostle, Thomas Hess, wrote about the American Jews in his book, 'Let My People Go: The Struggle of the American Jew to Come Home to Israel,' and hit out specifically about American Jews.
"...the Jewish people today are in slavery to many false gods in America.... My prayer is that American Jewish people become aware of the bondages to these gods and break free from them.. They must make Aliyah (return) to Israel before greater judgment or plagues come upon America. The Jewish people in America must be freed from this slavery to materialism in all of its forms in order to escape to Israel. Because of the way the Jewish people have prospered and been blessed in America, this struggle is even greater than it was to leave Europe more than seventy years ago."
Aside from seeking mass conversion, the Apostles preach about the inevitable end times, and the hazard Jews face if they do not change their ways - to follow the fringe Christian Zionist agenda, which involves handing over their "control" of the world to these Christian leaders. Part of that "moral" Jewish transformation involves moving to Israel.
While they seem to be cautioning the Jews (if in hateful and insulting ways), in actuality, they believe that their return to Israel will trigger a second coming of the Messiah -- though that may require Israel go to nuclear war with Iran in a struggle for power in the region. Collateral damage.
In fact, they are beyond adamant about the requirement for all Jews to move to Israel, invoking great tragedies as part of the plan to make it happen. John Hagee, who endorsed John McCain and Palin, is one of those Apostles, and in 2008 gave a speech titled 'Hitler is God's hunter.'
In the speech, Hagee said:
"Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."
Hagee, who was a close ally of President George W. Bush and Tom DeLay, spoke at Glenn Beck's rally in August -- as did Palin -- isn't alone in this belief.
In more close proximity to Palin's statement yesterday, Hess linked Jews with abortion - a claim that has echoes of the blood libel charge.
There is so much blood on American soil, it is a miracle we have not already been destroyed as a nation! Many secular, reformed and conservative Jews have encouraged abortion despite the fact that the killing of their future generations will affect the future of the Jewish people. There is little difference today between child sacrifice in the Old Testament and abortions today.
So, what is Palin's connection with this group? Palin got her famous "lipstick on a pig" joke from Hagee, and Hess's book is marketed by and contributed to by Rick Joyner, who has his own history of Jewish conversion-themed writing. And he has literally had his hands on the head of Palin.
Palin has been "anointed," or given blessing, three times by three separate apostles of the movement. Joyner gave his blessing to the pastor of Palin's church, Ed Kalnins, who passed it on to Palin in a ceremony in 2008.
As the Guardian highlighted - to no avail - in 2008, Palin also has received substantial blessing and even financial help from Pastor Thomas Muthee, an African pastor who is himself an Apostle. Muthee spoke at Palin's church in Wasilla, calling for the taking back of the banking system from the Jews.
"The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. It's high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations," he said. "If you look at the - you know - if you look at the Israelites, that's how they work. And that's how they are, even today."
Then, he prayed over Palin to help deliver her the governorship. Palin described the event, which she also called "awesome":
"As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he's so bold," she said. "And he was praying 'Lord make a way, Lord make a way.' And I'm thinking, this guy's really bold, he doesn't even know what I'm going to do, he doesn't know what my plans are."
It seems the entire power structure of the order is behind her. In a 2007 sermon, Glazier said that God had spoken to Palin and had determined that she would be a political leader - and one day, President. (Listen to the audio here).
In 2008, the Guardian also reported that Palin's Wasilla Bible Church hosted David Brickner, the leader of the controversial Jews for Jesus movement. With Palin in the pews, Brickner said that violence in Israel was part of God's plan.
"But what we see in Israel," he said on stage, "the conflict that is spilled out throughout the Middle East ... is an ongoing reflection of the fact that there is judgment. ... When Jesus was standing in the temple, he spoke that that judgment was coming, that there's a reality to the judgment of unbelief."
Palin never objected.
All this talk of Christian Zionism, and the punishment of Jews as sinners who must move to Israel, brings to the forefront Palin's supposed support of Israel. In an interview with Barbara Walters in 2009, Palin said:
"I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
The support of Israeli expansion is a strong tenet of Christian Zionism - indeed, they believe that for the end times to come, they must return to Israel and repent for their supposed sins. Sins like blood libel, perhaps.