Does Sarah Palin know where the West Bank begins?


Lots of hostile speculation about Sarah Palin’s geographical skills after her entourage turned away from Bethlehem upon realizing that she did  not have the requisite entry papers. From Y-Net:

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.

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