The Alaska Jewish population is 3,425. 3,425. There are more Jews at Zabar's this morning than live in Alaska. Let me ask you a question: how many of those Jewish people in Alaska do you think Sarah Palin has met, talked to, encountered?
You can tell me that Sarah Palin has met other Jews in her travels, but she has not traveled. Not only has she hardly traveled abroad, even though she can see Russia from her window, but she has hardly traveled domestically.
So, I am asking, how many Jews do you think Sarah Palin has met? Literally. 10? Two?
One of the reasons Sarah Palin is so frightening is because her frame of reference appears to be so narrow. It would be one thing if she worked in Alaska but traveled extensively to get to know the country or the world. But she has chosen not to - which is her choice, and I respect it. Except for the fact that she wants to possibly run the country, and I am a citizen of this country, and Sarah Palin does not know people who share my background.
Another reason Palin is so scary is because not only has she not traveled, but she does not seem in the least bit curious. She may or may not read; it's hard to get a straight answer from her. She only seems to read back what's written for her, so it's hard to tell what she really thinks or really knows. If you're from a small state, far from the rest of the country, and you hardly read or travel, does that seem like a person you'd want representing you in the White House? Or does that seem like someone who, I don't know, should educate themselves in America before they try to represent America?
By the way, it's not as if Alaska is filled with African-Americans, either. 3.5% of the state's population is black. How many African-Americans are buddies with Sarah Palin?
In a couple of weeks, I'm headed to a Jewish Center to speak as a surrogate for the Obama campaign. A McCain campaign surrogate will speak, too. A few weeks ago, I was worried about how the Jewish population was reacting to Obama. There is an enormous paranoia about Obama in the Jewish community. I've seen it at Temples, I've read it in emails, I've heard it first-hand. The fear of the unknown Obama is very disconcerting. Some of it has actually been pretty disgusting.
McCain was doing well with the Jews. I heard it when I was home in Long Island a couple of weeks ago - a sense that maybe McCain was safer. I've heard it when I've met with people in Los Angeles, concerned about Israel. Maybe Obama doesn't get it. But I've also heard from these same people that while they thought McCain may have been the safer choice, and maybe Obama does not get it, now, they think McCain is the bigger risk. Because of Palin. One person said to me that after the Georgia crisis, he was going to go McCain because McCain seemed safer on foreign policy. But when McCain picked Palin, he thought, "Are you kidding? What does this woman know about me?"
As a Jew, I don't expect a candidate for our nation's highest office to surround himself with Jews. I do, however, expect that they'd encountered a few along the way. And I believe Sarah Palin fails that most basic test.