If Mike Huckabee ever becomes president of the United States (heaven forfend!) we may have the first ever alumnus of the Hilltop Youth as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Or better yet, as U.S. secretary of state! All this by way of saying that a friendly journalist has graciously shared with me the travel schedule for the former Republican presidential candidate’s upcoming visit to Israel:
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will visit Israel next week (August 17-19) to underscore his support for a united Jerusalem and for the right of Jews to live and build in Judea and Samaria.
His trip is sponsored by a settler wingnut outfit called the Jewish Reclamation Project, which is a front group for Ateret Hacohanim,** a U.S. registered non-profit which raises an average of $2 million each year used to displace Arab residents of Jerusalem and replace them with pro-settler Jewish fanatics:
His visit to Israel is hosted by The Jerusalem Reclamation Project and its Chairman, Dr. Joseph Frager. NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, will join also join the popular columnist and Fox News host.
Ateret is also handsomely supported by U.S. bingo king and settler financier, Irving Moskowitz. Hikind is a former leader of the Jewish Defense League, who now represents some of the most rabidly pro-settler ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn. His wife, Shoshana happens to also be Ateret Cohanim’s U.S. fundraiser (surprise, surprise).
What I find extraordinary is that Huckabee is spending almost all his time visiting settlements. And not just any settlements, he’s going into the heart of the most extreme of the settler extremists meeting with the Gush Katif dissidents and Hebron settlers (who produced Baruch Goldstein, among other Jewish gifts to humanity). Keep in mind, these Gush Katifniks were diametrically opposed not to the policy of the U.S. government, but to policy of their own democratically elected ISRAELI government. And they didn’t express their opposition by petitioning or demonstrating, they expressed it through acts of violence and mayhem. This is who Mike Huckabee chooses to spend time with when he visits the Holy Land. Read it and weep:
MONDAY, Aug. 17:
• Visit to City of David
• Maaleh HaZeitim
• Kidmat Zion (Abu Dis) – site of a future Jewish neighborhood:
TUESDAY, Aug. 18:
• Atarot and the Security Fence around Jerusalem
• Maaleh Adumim and the controversial E1 area
• Visit to Givat HaYovel, a neighborhood designated as an “illegal outpost” and slated for dismantling by the Israeli government…
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19:
• Visit and briefing by Gush Katif evacuees
This schedule neglects to mention Huckabee’s attendance at a Sunday evening gala fundraising event at Irving Moskowitz’s Shepherd Hotel. During his visit to the disputed site, he will broadcast his FOXNews show live from the heart of “liberated” Arab-rein East Jerusalem. Moskowitz and the city of Jerusalem plan to begin the process of removing Arab residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood by turning the historic Palestinian landmark into a major new settler residential project.
The Obama administration has specifically warned the Netanyahu government that this project is an incendiary one that it vehemently opposes. Is this the image Huckabee really wants to project? That he supports those who wish to see a race war between Israelis and Palestinians to the death? That he so detests the current president and his policy that he’s willing to sink up to his ankles in the swamp muck that these extremists live and breath?
If I were Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager I’d be chortling with glee at the opportunity to run against this guy.
Huckabee could become the leader of our country (I know it’s highly unlikely but still remotely possible). He might be interested in visiting the economic hub of Israel, Tel Aviv. He might be interested in visiting with the U.S. ambassador while he’s here or Israeli government leaders. There is absolutely no indication he or his handlers are interested in any of this from his schedule. It’s all settlers all the time.
It’s one thing to be an Eric Cantor and make vague murmurings about Obama’s Israel policy being insufficiently supportive of Israel. That at least presents a vaguely legitimate political argument. But Huckabee is off in wingnut land. He’ll probably be holding hands with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and John Hagee and praying for the End Times over the fields of Armageddon. Scary stuff folks. Republicans, if there are any of you out there, do something to avoid making your Party the laughingstock of the democratic world.
Frankly, I don’t know which is worse Huckabee or Palin. If one of them is nominated Obama will easily win a second term. Contrary to what some might believe, I actually believe it’s a good idea to have a two party system in this country (though I never have voted for a Republican). To think that this Party is sentencing itself to years if not decades in the political wilderness through the embrace of such lunatics is sad in the extreme.
**Today’s Haaretz offers a riveting financial expose of Ateret Hacohanim by Uri Blau.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.