While the American media obsess about whether Alaska Governor and aerial wolf-sniper Sarah Palin is ready for prime time and national office, many Israeli political buffs have been scrutinizing the 2008 vice presidential candidates in light of foreign policy issues.
Today, Sen. Joe Biden's photo was splashed on the front page of the conservative Jerusalem Post, which showed no pictures of the Barracuda from Wasilla or her photogenic family.
The Democratic vice presidential nominee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Israeli reporters in a phone interview yesterday that Israel doesn't need any green light from the United States in order to attack Iran over its nuclear program.
A broadcast on the official Army Radio station last week claimed that unnamed Israeli officials were preoccupied about the prospect of Biden as number two in the White House because they said he had ruled out an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and cautioned them that the region would eventually have to learn to live with A-bombs in Tehran.
Concerns were heightened in Jerusalem after Iranian officials boasted that 4000 atomic centrifuges were already enriching uranium for their nuclear energy program, with an additional 3000 ready for installation. Biden has warned that Israel is less secure now than before the Bush administration's ill-considered Middle East policies shifted the strategic balance in the region.
On Monday, the Obama-Biden campaign had "scathingly rejected" the unsourced broadcast as a partisan lie. "We will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden's 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel," Biden's press secretary, David Wade, said in a statement.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
"Joe Biden's first trip as a senator was to Israel. He has worked with every Israeli leader from Golda Meir to Prime Minister Olmert, and he takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting the relationship between Israel and the US," Wade added. "Senator Biden has consistently stated - publicly and privately - that a nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat to Israel and the United States and that we must prevent a nuclear Iran."
Wade noted that only two months ago, in a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee - which Biden heads - the senator reiterated his long-held view on this subject by stating: "Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon would dramatically destabilize an already unstable region and probably fuel a nuclear arms race in the region. It is profoundly in our interest to prevent that from happening."
The Army Radio report asserted that Biden had expressed doubt over the effectiveness of economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The report also said Biden was against the opening of an additional military and diplomatic front, saying that the U.S. had more pressing problems, such as North Korea and Iraq.
Biden has a solid 36-year Senate record of pro-Israel leadership. He has called Israel "the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East" and declared himself a Zionist in an interview with a U.S. Jewish television channel last year, saying that "you don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."
The controversial Army radio report was issued after a newspaper story quoted intelligence sources from the Netherlands who predicted an American strike on Iran's nuclear program within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, local business reporters crowed that $35 million worth of security systems for Iran will soon be supplied through--get this-- an Israeli company. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly ordered over 70,000 units from Sonar Company via one of their branches in China. The company's owner, Yaakov Salman, said that it was "impossible" that the Iranians were unaware that the cutting edge system, which identifies hostile elements through radio waves, was developed by scientists in Israel.
Hostilities of the political sort certainly were evident on the convention room floor in Minnesota as Palin delivered her hard-hitting acceptance speech to adoring Republicans. Even though Palin had been sequestered most of the day for last-minute grooming, she interrupted her prep sessions to speak with members of the "frozen Chosen," Minnesota's Jewish community, and met with powerful Jewish lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to reassure them of her full commitment to Israel.
Much has been made of the miniature flag of Israel pinned to Palin's office drapes in the backdrop of widely circulated video.
Most pundits view its display as a sign of Palin's Christian Zionism, and note that the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus actively reaches out for funding and support from the estimated flock of 400,000 Evangelicals in America. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel has become a reliable touchstone for conservative grassroots campaigns for years.
More troubling videos have emerged showing evangelical sermons, attended by Palin and her large family, which blame the Jewish people's rejection of the Christian messiah for the violence visited upon them in Jerusalem for the past 60 years.
David Brickner, of Jews for Jesus, pointed out last month at Wasilla Bible Church how: "a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment--you can't miss it."
Even though Palin was quick to say she does not share these radical views-- in an instant replay of Obama stepping back from Reverend Jeremiah Wright's notorious remarks-- her born-again embrace of End Times prophecies does not play so well in a country which anticipates apocalypse coming from Tehran in the form of nuclear-tipped missiles.