By Larry Gordon
Here in Israel, as we spend two days with Fox TV personality and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, the atmosphere is that of a quasi-presidential campaign. I had, of course, heard Huckabee’s name mentioned as a possible candidate in 2016, but never before as often as I heard it this week here in Jerusalem. That is not what most of the meetings we attended were about, but a Huckabee presidency would be a good thing for Israel and a very good thing for the United States.
The conference here in Israel featured two jam-packed days of activities that demonstrated more about the type of person Mike Huckabee is than what type of candidate he might someday be. Huckabee is a former minister from Arkansas, a man who loves Israel, and an activist when it comes to the matter of the connection between the Jewish people and the land. It is difficult to fathom how he will successfully harbor those beliefs as president of America as it has now been crafted by Barack Obama. But that is a matter for the future.
For now, anyway, Mike Huckabee sounds just a little bit to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu. The conference in the Knesset on Monday, organized by Dr. Joe Frager and Odelia Jacobs in cooperation with the Ateret Cohanim organization, featured an impressive array of Israeli government officials. The thrust of most comments was the ongoing delegitimization of Israel, which seems to be the favorite activity at the UN as well as in capitals around the world.
One of the important lessons learned was that Israel is not far removed from so many other Jewish communities. When the delegitimizers speak of Israel, they really mean Jews and, simply stated, that means all of us. Sure, they carved out this tidy little political niche for themselves, but the consensus amongst those analyzing these movements is that the BDS, or “boycott, divestment, and sanctions,” movement is just new terminology for unmitigated Jew hatred.
Another item on everyone’s minds and lips here in Israel as well as around the rest of the Jewish world is the matter of the three teenagers kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and now missing for two weeks. On the way in from the airport on Sunday night, Huckabee stopped at the Frenkel home near Modi’in and sat with 16-year-old Naftali Frenkel’s parents to express American solidarity with their plight as they hopefully await the safe return of Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal.
People in the Knesset and those who should have some insight into this bizarre kidnapping all seem at a loss for what to say on the matter. One Knesset member looked at me when I inquired about the matter and just said, “You’re a smart man; you can figure it out.” I still have not been able to.
What is going on here simultaneously with the search for the missing teens is the crackdown on the terrorist Hamas organization in Judea and Samaria. These are, hopefully, not just cosmetic military operations, but rather game-changing maneuvers that will have a long-lasting impact on the ground here.
One of the speakers on Monday commented that regardless of Fatah’s reconciliation agreement with the terrorist Hamas organization, American aid was still being pumped into the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon pointed out that there is a law passed by Congress in 2006 that American aid to the PA will cease in the event of such an agreement. Instead the opposite occurred. A few days after the agreement with the terror group was announced, Secretary of State Kerry said that the U.S. would in all likelihood work with the new quasi-government.
MK Moshe Feiglin pointed out that there is no reason to blame the Americans. He said that scores of trucks leave Israel daily for Gaza to stock Hamas banks with cash. Also, food supplies are trucked in from Israel and electrical services that no one pays for continue flowing into Gaza as if it were business as usual.
It seems that in the community that brought him to Israel this week, as well as in many others across the broad spectrum, Mike Huckabee is a star. Under the guidance of Daniel Luria of Ateret Cohanim, we visited a building renamed Bet Zion by the organization. They recently purchased part of the building for $3 million. The structure is located in the heart of Arab eastern Jerusalem. There is a yeshiva located there now in this never-ending effort to reassert Jewish sovereignty over our eternal capital city. It is not a simple task. But we walked the streets, nonchalantly passing Arab men, women, and children, minding our own business and just going about our endeavors of daily life. This part of Jerusalem is no doubt a hotbed of resentment and animosity toward Jews. There may even be occasional incidents attesting to that fact, but not today. It was hot and sunny and all seemed well, for now anyway.
Governor Huckabee also held meetings with Israel’s chief rabbis. He was warmly received by both Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. Rabbi Lau spoke with Mr. Huckabee about his gesture of visiting the Frenkel family. The rabbi said that he believed that worldwide communal prayer is providing the families with great strength in a time of crisis.
Huckabee is seen by many here on his Fox News program, and people comment about it wherever we go. The former governor has all the features and ingredients that make up an ideal presidential candidate. He was a governor, he has a TV persona, and he is the right age—58 years old—to make the run.
To grasp how pro-Israel Mike Huckabee is, one must contemplate how cool Barack Obama is to Israel and then imagine the opposite. That is who Mike Huckabee is, and there is a sense—albeit a long shot at this early date—that he may be the anti-Obama, if such a thing exists, and once again ready for a run at the presidency.
More than anything else it seems that what Mr. Huckabee brings to the table is refreshing sincerity and honesty. Granted, it may take some time to adjust to that way of thinking and to come to terms with the realization that honesty and openness are not dead, although brutally squashed by the White House, Congress, and a good part of an intellectually dishonest media.
Does Mike Huckabee have the fire to pursue what it takes to realize this dreamlike vision? In Jerusalem this week it seems that the answer to that question is yes, this man certainly does. v
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