Here's an interesting new data point in the debate about what constitutes support for Israel. The neoconservative position, it has always seemed to me, is that support for anything Israel does is the litmus test. There is no weighing of issues here; there is just a demand that whatever is the most "pro-Israel" position be embraced, even if many sincerely believe such a policy would hurt - and has hurt - the Jewish state.

In recent years, that means supporting the annexation of the West Bank in perpetuity for the Jewish state. Almost all neocons deny this, and almost all are being disingenuous. They are always anti-anti-settlements. And that's why Seth Lipsky's pro-settlement candor is so refreshing. My colleague Jeffrey Goldberg opposes those settlements. And he dared to worry about Sarah Palin's desire for more and more settlements as a way to win the forever religious war she favors against Islam. Lipsky is having none of this whining. Palin's statement to Barbara Walters was as follows:

“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.”

Lipsky's response:

When I read her reply, I thought that it was wonderful.

In the two generations in which I’ve been covering the Middle East debate, it was one of the few times a public figure gave in response to a question about the settlements an answer that I would call ideal. It seemed to me courageous, in that Palin was going against not only the administration but many in her own party and the gods of political correctness. There was no shilly-shallying about the Oslo process and the Quartet and the United Nations. Palin didn’t seem particularly worried one way or another about how she might be perceived. She is just on Israel’s side.

So you see how, in fact, the neocons are at perfect peace with an alliance with Christianists to foment religious war and Greater Israel as a prelude to Armageddon. They don't buy the Armageddon stuff (many are atheists), but what matters to them is simply being "on Israel's side", as long as that side never contemplates any sort of negotiation or peace agreement with the enemy. Lipsky reads "Going Rogue" and is therefore thrilled:

I couldn’t find anything in the book that made me worry about the fact that even on the difficult issues she supports Israel.

Again: "supports Israel". That's the only criterion there is. There is a reason Bill Kristol selected Palin as his future Quayle/W. And it has a lot to do with the Middle East.

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