Drawing on American values of freedom and self-determination, Mike Huckabee, a
likely Republican presidential contender, defended the right of Jews to live
anywhere in Israel on Monday during the cornerstone- laying ceremony for a new
Jewish neighborhood on east Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), MK Danny Danon
(Likud), Jerusalem municipal officials, a movie star, rabbis and dozens of
students from the adjacent Beit Orot yeshiva assembled for the ceremony in a
makeshift tent just above the new construction site.
As the wind
occasionally shook the tent’s walls, Huckabee opened his remarks by alluding to
the muddy ground and noting that the revenues of a shoe-shine stand at the site
could provide sufficient funding for continued construction.
moved on to the more symbolic elements of the stormy weather.
ways, it’s probably appropriate that the weather was acting against us because
there is no doubt but that many forces acted against the Jewish people in
returning to their homeland, being able to live in the place that God gave
them,” he said. “It is inconceivable in many ways that we would have to even
argue and debate whether or not Israelis could live in Israel, not just in parts
of Israel but anywhere in Israel they wished to live.”
He continued by
saying “I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in
certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or
because I spoke English. I would be outraged if someone told me that in my
country, I would be prohibited and forbidden to live in a part of that country,
for any reason.”
Huckabee added that the “essence of freedom, the very
heart of it,” is self-determination and self-direction.
“And so today,”
he said, “we dedicate this place not only as a place for people to live, but for
people to live free. Many people across the world live, but the real inner quest
in every heart is to live free. I join you today in celebrating this place as a
place for people who will not merely live, but live free, as a testament to
their commitment of making Israel a place where there is always a home for the
Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, who accompanied
Huckabee to Israel, said he was “very proud to be here with all of you who stood
for justice and for the legacy of the Jewish people.
And when I see you I
think of all the great ones, for so many centuries, who had a dream to pass on
the legacy to the next generation, and labored hard and suffered and
Voight concluded his remarks to loud applause by saying,
“And now you are here, this is your time, and you are doing what you should be
doing, which is to prepare the next generations and to be the hope of the world
that you are. I love you all.”
Construction on the new residential
neighborhood commenced some three weeks ago, after the Jerusalem municipal
planning board granted a permit for 18 apartments in three buildings, primarily
for married students at Beit Orot. The entire complex will be named the Irving
Moskowitz Yeshiva and Campus– Yeshivat Beit Orot, after the primary benefactor,
an American bingo parlor mogul.
Hershkowitz stressed in his address that,
contrary to what some say, Jewish construction is not making an agreement with
the Palestinians harder to reach.
“Building in all parts of Israel and
particularly Jerusalem does not hinder peace – building in Jerusalem only
increases peace,” Hershkowitz said.
“Since we want a lot of peace, we
hope that the Beit Orot neighborhood will be a model to the construction
momentum in Jerusalem and all of Israel.”