Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee got a standing ovation when Dr. Joseph Frager introduced him at the 28th annual dinner of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center on Dec. 5.
“I’ve never had that kind of reception from Baptists, so I am very glad to be here,” the former Baptist minister, Arkansas governor and presidential aspirant said.
“I think Joe announced my candidacy for president. Thank you Joe, but I’m not yet ready to do so.”
It was an uphill battle when Huckabee competed for the Republican candidacy in 2008. He said he started out with so little name recognition that no one knew who he was. “That kind of hurts when you are running for president.”
After that he got his own talk show at Fox News. He found that people care more who is on television than who is in The White House. “I deeply appreciate Fox because that is job security for me,” he said.
Speaking like he’s already aiming for the White House in 2012, Huckabee pressed all the right buttons for the 1100 dinner guests at the Marriott Marquis.
It was the fifth night of Chanukah, which reminded Huckabee that if he ran with John McCain in 2008 the Republicans would have had a McCabee victory.
“Where we are now is between a Barack and a hard place,” he quipped.
Huckabee denounced the administration’s pressure to freeze settlements.
“A cessation of land development in order to make peace with an adversary that refuses to recognize your right to exist is counterintuitive,” he said. “It seems to me there should be pressure put on the Palestinians, not the Israelis.”
As for those critics of the $3 billion dollars of U.S. aid to Israel, Huckabee said he wants for the people who are not Jewish to recognize why the Jewish people should be safe and secure. .
“Israel is strategically the most important ally we have in that part of the world. We will stand with Israel.”
Huckabee described an emotional visit 17 years ago. He took his daughter, 11 years old at the time, to Yad Vashem. “Would she comprehend?” he wondered.
The girl was so overtaken with emotion, so incredulous at the recorded events of the Holocaust, that she wrote in the guest book, “Why didn’t someone do something?”
“I did not have to ask my daughter if she understood.”
Eugen Gluck, honorary chairman of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, presented awards to several supporters, including Rabbi Dr. Richard and Sandy Weiss of Young Israel of Hillcrest, Queens.
The rabbi noted out that Passover happened in Egypt, Shavuot at Mount Sinai, Succoth in the desert, and Purim in Persia. “Chanukah is the only holiday that happened in the land of Israel.”
Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com.