Mike Huckabee: How good a friend of Israel? UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mike Huckabee: How good a friend of Israel? UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Mike Huckabee's penchant for exaggeration gets him in trouble and he rarely apologizes. Case in point: He compared the U.S. debt with the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League takes exception to metaphorical use of the Holocaust and asked for an apology. Huckabee said the ADL should apologize to HIM, in that he's such a pal to Israel, leader of tours to the Holy Land and so forth.

This all prompts a commentary by Michelle Goldberg in Daily Beast on the double-edged sword of evangelical Christian fervor for Israel.

Goldberg says Huckabee's excuse-making "should serve as a reminder that the aggressive Zionism of the Christian right does not translate into sensitivity toward broader Jewish concerns."

She wrote:

The NRA speech wasn’t the first time he’s made analogies between Nazism and liberal policies—in the past, he’s spoken of the “holocaust of liberalized abortion.” And he seems to find Jews themselves exotic and almost bizarre. Speaking to Politico in February, he described having dinner with a group of Jews in New York this way: “I felt like I was sitting between Barbra Streisand and Woody Allen—it was really interesting; it was surreal.”

Huckabee usually gets away with this sort of thing because he is pro-Israel, if by pro-Israel one means unequivocally supporting Israeli irredentism. Unlike the majority of American Jews, he opposes a two-state solution, and in February he said Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem should be resettled in “a territory that [is] in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs,” which might make him the first modern American presidential aspirant to openly champion ethnic cleansing. ...

It’s true, as Huckabee says, that conservative Jews welcome evangelical support for Israel, even though the premillennial dispensationalist scenario ends with a catastrophic world war in the Middle East and the consignment of Jews to eternal hellfire. After all, both sides have the same short-term geopolitical ends—a Middle East dominated by a Greater Israel. The alliance is, in the immortal words of Leon Wieseltier, “a grim comedy of mutual condescension.” What it is not is a friendship. And it certainly doesn’t give anyone license to insinuate that higher marginal tax rates and tighter gun control are sort of like the Shoah.

UPDATE: The ADL says it accepts Mike Huckabee's explanation of his remarks. That doesn't wipe the slate clean on larger issues Goldberg raised, of course.

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