Mike Huckabee loves Israel, but will Jewish voters love him?
06/29/2010 - 17:54
James Besser

The Jewish political world is buzzing ...well, it's a pretty quiet buzz, more like a murmur ... about the New Yorker profile of former Arkansas governor, Fox news commentator and 2012 GOP presidential Wannabee Mike Huckabee.

Huck manages to get in his reputed appeal to Jewish voters in the second paragraph of the story (the New Yorker has really long paragraphs), saying “I worship a Jew! I have a lot of Jewish friends, and they’re kind of, like, ‘You evangelicals love Israel more than we do.’ I’m, like, ‘Do you not get it? If there weren’t a Jewish faith, there wouldn’t be a Christian faith!’ ”

Is this guy for real? He talks like he's taking speech lessons from teenagers at my local mall.

Writer Ariel Levy goes on: “In recent weeks, Huckabee has defended the Israeli attack on a Turkish flotilla headed for Gaza, in which nine people were killed. He does not support a two-state solution, or, at least, as he told numerous reporters in the course of the trip, 'not on the same piece of real estate'—which is to say he thinks that coming up with a place for the Palestinians ought to be an Arab problem. In fact, Huckabee does not believe that Palestinian is a legitimate nationality. 'I have to be careful saying this, because people get really upset—there’s really no such thing as a Palestinian,' Huckabee told a rabbi in Wellesley.”

Cool; no Palestinian state, no Palestinians, even. Bet that's going to win him a boatload of Jewish votes outside ZOA circles.

NOT.

Look, this scenario is as predictable as hot weather in summertime Washington.

There's little doubt President Obama has lost a lot of his luster among the 78 percent of American Jews who voted for him in 2008. His leadership on the perilous economy has been weak, his response to the BP oil disaster has been sluggish and insufficient, his Middle East policy seems ...well, confused. I don't believe he is anti-Israel, but I also don't see that he has a clue how to implement his agenda in the region. To liberals – including many Jewish voters – he looks like the same old same old, with Wall Street calling the tune and the President doing the dance.

A moderate Republican who thinks Israel is great and who won't turn off Jewish voters on domestic matters could reap some handsome benefits from that disillusionment.

But Huckabee? Give me a break.

Huck will talk a lot about Israel, and he'll raise a significant amount of campaign cash from ardently pro-Israel campaign givers.

His talk will generate stories in the conservative press about how Jews are about to make the great leap away from the Democrats that they've been predicting since Nixon was in the White House, or maybe Abe Lincoln. There will be buzz with a capital “B.”

But in the GOP primaries, chances are good a strong majority of Jewish Republicans will opt for more pragmatic, centrist candidates who seem better positioned to actually win the presidency as well as garner more Jewish votes – former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney is the current bet among political handicappers.

If Huckabee ends up the nominee, it's hard to see much of a shift in Jewish voting.

The reason, of course, is that most Jews don't vote based on the Israel factor unless they see a candidate as particularly onerous on the issue. There's little doubt more and more Jews think Obama's doing a lousy job in the Middle East; if past patterns are any indication, there's no sign they're likely as a result to vote for a conservative Republican.

On the domestic issues that are predominant in the priorities of most Jewish voters, Huck, with his strong Christian right leanings, will be a huge turnoff to many Jewish voters.

Yes, he would undoubtedly do well with the Orthodox minority; in today's climate, almost any Republican will score big with that faction, the most Israel-focused part of the Jewish community and the group least likely to be worried by very conservative domestic positions, especially on church-state matters. Yes, against Obama, Huck could get a good turnout from Jews whose political decision making starts and ends with Israel.

But that's still a minority of the Jewish electorate, as we've seen in so many recent presidential elections; if it wasn't, Sen. John McCain would have walloped Obama among Jewish voters in 2008.

I suspect Huck knows that; what he's after is Jewish campaign money, and on that front all his early talk about his Jewish friends and his love for Israel, right-wing style, may pay important dividends.

But Jewish voters? We've heard this too many times in the past to believe it.

Comments

The reason Huckabee loves Isreal is because he believes in the "rapture" where Jesus only comes back if Israel stays in one piece and then raises the beleivers and if the jews don't convert to chrisianity they get beheaded. I read it in researching the "rapture" or "end times". .This is disgusting and the republicans like him are trying to get jewish votes. They do not have mine. They will ruin america in many ways if elected. I hope Jews are smarter than this. Thank you.,

My fellow Jews often suffer “progressive group think”. There is a lot of good in many of the people which progressives often demonize. Many of the comments are uninformed projections of personal bias. In fact many Jewish posts concerning Christians and conservatives are just as knee jerk ignorant as the anti-Semites who post bigoted propaganda against Israel and Jews.
Yep, I agree with the author on this account...those Jews stupid and ignorant to vote for Obama the first time, with all that was known about him i.e. his association with "Rev. Wright" with Farrakhan and with other radical fringe edgers with strong pro-Arab, anti-Israel sentiment AND with his clear lack of experience (never even held a real job, no business experience, no military experience, etc.) if they were foolish enough to vote for him the first time they will vote for him a second time. For this Hebrew, I would gladly vote for Huckabee or Romney. Both were governors, both have plenty of experience, both are patriotic, both support Israel and both seem to appreciate the threat of Islam across the world. For Jews that turn a blind eye to Obama's pitiful record and his current record of incompetency, you are allowing never again to become once again!
Any Jews that care about the survival of Israel already vote Republican. That's the 20%. The rest of them just DON'T care. Obama was pro-palestinian from way back. And carries that into the white house. And he can depend on guys like Besser to "carry his water" no matter what he does.
News flash: Jewish Americans - even us Orthodox - are Americans and we vote for the candidates who will be good for OUR country - not necessarily those who will continue to allow Israel to get away with irritating the rest of the nations of the world.
"..those who will continue to allow Israel to get away with irritating the rest of the nations of the world." - What reality are you living in buddy? It's clear that the fact Israel exhists AT ALL seems to irritate the world, sir. Israel has a right to exhist and to defend itself.. it is NOT a vassal state. Someone has been adding too much liberal media to thier morning coffee.. tends to rot the brain.. I'd cut back if I were you.
Good article! Huckabee: "I have a lot of Jewish friends, and they’re kind of, like, ‘You evangelicals love Israel more than we do.’ I’m, like, ‘Do you not get it?' A theocratic Israel must be restored so that God can come down and wipe them out! OK, I get it already! Actually, self-destruction of the Middle East could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sad.
I do not think the Jewish people will like him any more than the Mormon peole do. If it wasn't for Huckabee we would not be in the mess we are now Mitt would have been our President. After the terrible things he said about Mitt and his religion, I do not even beleive most people even consider him a true Christian. Look up what a Christian is in the Webster Dicktionary. Huck.

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