Bob Franken

Mike Huckabee on Israel’s Far Right Bank


When you combine his far-out ideas with his “aw-shucks” style and quick wit, Mike Huckabee could easily be called the “compassionate extremist.” Now he’s taken his rock-star act to Israel, where he’s siding, not surprisingly, with the most conservative elements there, declaring that a Palestinian state in the middle of the Jewish homeland is “virtually unrealistic.”

Huckabee is on a three-day tour designed to keep his name in the “true believer” political mix back home by siding with Israel’s religious nationalist true believers.

In both countries they are lapping up his comments. He’s approvingly touring Jewish settlements that even the government of Benjamin Netanyahu considers illegal. In his affable way, he insists that he isn’t against a Palestinian state — he just wants it somewhere else. “The question is,” he said, “should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes. I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be assessed as virtually unrealistic.”

He went on to praise Israel for allowing Muslims to visit Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, which is a holy site for Islam as well as for Judaism. But should a mosque be allowed? Nope. It would be an “affront.” “Israel is a place where they’re going to allow other cultures and religions,” he explained, “but don’t ask the Jewish people whose homeland it is to completely yield over their ability to live within the context of their country.”

Never mind that the Palestinians believe they too have a claim to this same “homeland.” Never mind that he is at odds with the Obama administration and the bipartisan mainstream in his own country, and even out beyond the hard-nosed government of Israel. In taking his position on territorial claims in Israel, he is staking out his own territory in the Republican Party. Take that, Sarah Palin! You are not the only fringe candidate out there.

Huckabee, in case anyone has forgotten, brings an interesting resume to his Mideast expertise: He’s a former Baptist minister, a former governor of Arkansas (maybe Arkansas could become the new Palestinian state) and a former/future presidential candidate. Presently he hosts a program on Fox News. And Sarah Palin does not. So far.

Mike Huckabee has also beaten her to the Mideast, and beaten her to the punch with unyielding views. They flow from his lips like so much milk and honey. It’s a style he hopes will eventually take him to the promised land at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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