Huckabee: McCain stronger on Israeli security

Former Republican presidential candidate visiting Jerusalem, says US support of Israeli territorial compromise was misguided.

huckabee 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
huckabee 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has a more stalwart view of Israel's security needs than his Democratic opponent and would be better able to deal with Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Monday. "McCain has a much stronger view of how Israel must protect itself," Huckabee said during a visit to Jerusalem. "There is no naivete on his part about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program." Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and Baptist minister, said that McCain would turn out to be the preferred candidate of "traditional" American voters, including, but not only, the powerful evangelical Christian community in the US. "Ultimately [the evangelicals] will tend to trend more with Senator McCain because he more closely represents the values that really matter to a broad section of voters," Huckabee said. On his tenth visit to Israel in the past 35 years, Huckabee's 48-hour trip was sponsored by the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, the US arm of Ateret Cohanim, which works to acquire property in east Jerusalem and resettle Jews there. His tour included various Jewish housing projects in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. "It is a historic reality that Jerusalem, and the entire land, was originally intended to be a homeland for the Jewish people," he said. "The Palestinians should in fact have a place and opportunity to settle, but it doesn't have to be in Jerusalem." Huckabee also said that US support of Israeli territorial compromise was misguided. "Sometimes politicians get wrapped up in what we can achieve rather than what we should achieve," he said. At an overlook of the Old City and east Jerusalem, the former presidential candidate also said that Israel needed to distance its enemies as much as possible. "If someone has a bomb or a missile or a gun pointed within a few feet of me I would want them to be as far away as possible," he said. "You don't have to be a military genius or strategist to know this." New York Assembly member Dov Hikind, who accompanied Huckabee on his trip, said the issue boiled down to the right of the Jewish people to live anywhere in Jerusalem. "Imagine if in our neighborhood I would say that blacks cannot live here," he told Huckabee as they stood on the rooftop of a Jewish home in the predominantly Arab section of the city's Abu Tor neighborhood. For his part, Hikind lavished unstinting praise on Huckabee. "He is one of the exceptional supporters of the state of Israel... who is not wrapped up with the Oslo syndrome," Hikind said. Huckabee said that coming to Israel repeatedly reminded him of both the heritage and the founding values of the United States. "It may be a tiny country, but it occupies an extraordinarily large footprint in the day-to-day struggle for peace in the world," he said. He said that Israel had succeeded in overcoming tremendous odds and suffering, and constantly looked forward instead of backward. "It is a microcosm of everything that the US understands about freedom," he concluded.