By Hugo Rifkind
In the world of sectarian Scottish football, as you may know, they have adopted the Israeli-Palestinian fight as their own. Celtic fans wave Palestinian Authority flags, in an attempt to draw parallels between the Middle East and the troubles they wish people were still having in Ireland. Rangers fans wave Stars of David in response. I always thought this was the crassest, stupidest, most historically illiterate appropriation of a conflict imaginable. But then Sarah Palin went to Israel. What a chump. What a cloth-eared, small-minded, blinkered idiot. She turned up wearing a Star of David T-shirt, and went on to tell some Israel politician that she has the iconography of the Israeli flag ‘on my desk, in my home, all over the place’. This would be her desk, and her home, in Alaska. Off the top of my head, I suspect Alaska might be more unlike the unhappy half of the old British mandate than anywhere else on earth. Massive, sparsely populated, overwhelmingly white — what does she see in Israel that makes her think she has anything of value to say about anything? Does she look at the fence and the rockets and the refugee camps, and shudder and think ‘This is how home would be, if the Eskimos got really uppity’? Or what? Of course, ignorance has never been a bar to Middle East pontification. Palin’s ignorance, though, soars into self-parody. ‘Why are you apologising all the time?’ she asked her hosts. Even they must have been baffled by that one. I like Israelis a lot. They’re fun and spiky and they’re far more bothered by global opprobrium than they let on. But I’ve never yet heard one apologise for anything. If an Israeli ran over your foot, he’d shout that it was your fault for wearing a road-coloured shoe. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Palin was simply operating under the assumption that Israel was a country chock full of people like Woody Allen.