Flanked by a banner that reads “Israel shall stand forever,” Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein sings a song in a rousing mix of Hebrew and English.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris is on her feet, stomping and clapping to the beat from her place on the stage.

The predominately Christian audience waves its arms to the music as Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, praises Israel.

Next, Harris gets her turn.

“Nothing that we believe in the world would exist without you,” she says to Jewish leaders in the crowd. “We’re all sort of Jewish wannabes.” ~The Herald-Tribune

Via The Plank

She followed that up by saying that unless you elect “Jewish wannabe” candidates, you will be legislating sin.  No, she didn’t really say that.  But she might as well have–it would have made about as much sense!  The Jewish wannabe thing apparently isn’t entirely a new act she has put on to do damage control after her Witness interview.  As the Post reports, she has apparently always been this batty:

Harris does love talking about Israel. She’s proud that Israelis sometimes assume she’s one of them and talk to her in Hebrew. She is a Christian but has called herself a “wannabe” Jew. During the bitterly contested recount in 2000, which she oversaw as Florida’s secretary of state, she compared herself to the Biblical character Queen Esther, who risked her life to save the Jews.

She says that when her husband of 10 years, wealthy Swedish businessman Anders Ebbeson, asked her to marry him, she first extracted a promise that they could live in the Holy Land one day. She doesn’t know why she’s always been so fascinated by the country.

“I can remember riding my bike to piano lessons and thinking about Israel,” she says. “I thought I was adopted for a while.” 

I must confess that this sort of zealous enthusiasm for Israel among Christians has always baffled me.  I have read the standard explanations behind this, which cite believing in the eternity of the covenant with Abraham and God’s grant of the Promised Land.  I have also read about the way that some evangelicals apparently associate the modern State of Israel with the fulfillment of end-times prophecies, though I genuinely find it hard to believe that this is really true of very many evangelicals.  I have to admit that I don’t really get it.  Yes, I can follow the arguments for these views, and I see what they say, but I cannot really grasp fully why any Christians would hold these views.  I find it rather mystifying, not unlike the way some white people’s enthusiasm for a Colin Powell or Barack Obama mystifies me.    

There are also more Queen Esther moments from the Queen Esther Mk 2 herself:

Harris turns stony when she’s asked what will happen if she doesn’t win.

“Haven’t even considered it,” she says in a tone that suggests a follow-up question would be foolhardy. 

Later in the evening, while talking about her love for Queen Esther, she runs to the passenger seat of her SUV and seizes a Bible.

“I’ll give you one verse,” she says. “On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.”

What does that have to do with this race?

“November 7th,” she replies.

So are the Republicans the children of Israel being delivered from annihilation in Babylon?  Right, that makes sense.  If she is such a big fan of Esther and seems to think that she is reprising the role of the Jewish heroine, does that mean that Nelson is Haman?  Who plays Ahasuerus?  She will presumably be marrying him to save the “Jewish wannabes” from extinction, right?  That should be quite a wedding!

It is surprising that more of the theocracy conspiracy theorists haven’t made Katherine Harris Exhibit A of what they are describing.  For sheer religiously-inspired zaniness, it’s hard to beat her example.  From the Post’s recent story on her imploding campaign:

They worried about what one former field coordinator called her sense of “religious mission.” Two former staffers — Rollins and another onetime campaign manager, Jamie Miller — have said Harris told them that God wanted her to be a senator. Rollins adds, “She told me that she thought she could be the first woman president.” 

Then again, maybe the fact that she is a walking political disaster doesn’t mesh very well with the whole “Christianists are seizing the commanding heights of power” narrative.

But the best is yet to come, folks: Katherine Harris will be writing a book about all of the people who have “betrayed” her!  That should be worth a few laughs.