The Daily Telegraph hinted that Palin was not aware of the fact that Bethlehem is not Israeli territory, saying this is a common mistake amongst foreign tourists but not amongst politicians.
The speculation is more than a little silly, as was the spin on her utterly benign "I can see Russia" comment.
She needs a better advance team for sure (David Frum is proved right!), but this is an easy mistake to make: I’ve been back and forth to Bethlehem plenty of times since Oslo. Sometimes you’re expected to show papers arranged in advance, other times photo i.d. (passports. I.D. cards) is adequate. (UPDATE: A Facebook friend reminded me that you always need to show some kind of ID when crossing — but the issue here was advance papers, particularly for a dignitary. The problem here is — do we know Palin was crossing "as a dignitary"?)
Somebody needed to make a call, is all.
Incidentally, about Frum’s column: He gets the Republican Jewish Coalition spot on right here:
Jewish Republican may seem a minority of a minority, but the local chapters contain disproportionate numbers of local Republican activists — the kind of people who make a difference in a state primary.
The RJC played an especially important role in 2008, the election in which Palin burst onto the national stage — a very unpromising year for the GOP. Barack Obama out-raised John McCain in an election in which many of the party’s usual donors stayed on the sidelines. Yet RJC members continued to fundraise for McCain-Palin, like the last guy to hold the pass, outnumbered and outgunned.
The RJC has driven me a little crazy over the years because of its addiction to the tedious "liberal media" mantra, but Frum (an RJC board member) captures why it’s also a fun and admirable bunch — there’s something attractive about folks who doggedly, even cheerfully, defy the odds and expectations.
And yes, I like the NJDC too. I just won’t go Ayelet Waldman on y’all and say whom I like more.