Huckabee: the settlers’ best friend (and maybe the Armageddonists, too)
08/24/2009 - 00:00
James Besser
Monday, August 24th, 2009 Isn’t it nice that former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee and his fellow evangelical Christians are “so much more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community.” That’s what Huckabee, a 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner, told the Christian Broadcasting Network after a trip to Israel that focused mostly on Jewish settlements and East Jerusalem, places most national politicians in this country try to avoid. Well, no, Huck, I think you got it wrong again. You support one faction in Israel more than most American Jews do; I can’t quibble with that. But  the faction you support –  settlers determined to hold on to every scrap of West Bank land and fight the kind of compromise on Jerusalem that has been a matter of US policy for decades – represents a small minority within the Jewish state. Huckabee, positioning himself to be  the consensus choice of Christian conservatives in the 2012 GOP primaries, no doubt thinks his support for Israeli settlers and opposition to a two-state solution will help with that constituency, not to mention small groups of Orthodox Jews who like his positions on an undivided Jerusalem.  (He was accompanied on his latest settlement tour by New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind). I don’t know what’s in the former governor’s heart, but many of those who may support him because of his hardline Middle East stance believe in harsh Christian “end time” prophecies that require Israel to experience horrific wars, a new Holocaust and ultimately the conversion of a remnant of Jews to Christianity. Some friendship. Does Huckabee support Israel because he thinks it’s about to get caught up in the horrors of Armageddon? I don’t have a clue; last year, he told me he doesn’t. Is he part of a Christian Zionist movement steeped in an end-times theology that argues Israel has to get blown to kingdom come for the Christian redemption to occur, that all peace efforts are tricks of the devil and that Jews here are woefully misguided by not supporting Israel’s not-one-inch crowd? Read the apocalyptic literature and decide for yourself. Huck’s recent trip wasn’t intended to show solidarity with the Jewish state, or to burnish his credentials as a statesman; it was meant to send out a clear statement of his support for one faction in Israel that stands in opposition to U.S. policy – not just the hated Barack Obama’s policies, but the policies of former President George W. Bush, sometimes cited as Israel’s best friend ever. Was that message meant for purely political reasons? For reasons of Bible prophecy?  Or does he genuinely think Israel’s future depends on not giving back an inch of land, anywhere?  Huckabee is a professional politician, so it’s hard to tell.  But it’s also hard to take seriously his view that he’s a better supporter of Israel than the strong majority of American Jews. And it’s at least worth asking some tough questions about what that support is based on. For a different take on Huckabee, check out Shmuel Rosner’s analysis in The New Republic. Shmuel writes: Huckabee is becoming one of the loudest voices in a small (but growing) chorus of people who aren’t just tired of trying to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or pessimistic when it comes to the prospects of achieving such peace any time soon. These people–among them right-wing hacks and former generals, messianic radicals and cold-calculating strategists, populist politicians and idealistic dreamers–think that the whole paradigm of peace as we know it should be eliminated from the books. The reigning world vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace is, they believe, so ’90s, and should boldly be replaced by new paradigms. Huckabee is the best hope that settlers and their supporters can entertain of turning this relatively marginal viewpoint into a legitimate position.

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