Huckabee heading to Israel – and embracing settlers (again)

Monday, August 10th, 2009

One sure sign a politician is laying the groundwork for a future presidential bid is a sudden yearning for Israel travel.  So it must be for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,  who will be visiting Israel next week.

But there’s a difference; Huckabee, a former Baptist minister who won the GOP caucuses in Iowa last year but then sputtered in later primaries,  is the first major national candidate to openly embrace Israeli settlers – or, as one of his hosts on next week’s trip says, “to support the right of Jews to live in all the areas –we’re talking about East Jerusalem, we’re talking about Judea and Samaria.”

That was Brooklyn assemblyman Dov Hikind, a nominal Democrat who hosted Huckabee on another trip a year ago, just after the end of his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination.

In an interview Hikind called Huckabee’s support for those fighting new land concessions to the Palestinians “amazing, especially at this critical time. It sends an incredible message, even to some Jewish leaders have been sitting on the sidelines, who are looking at the polls on Obama and not wanting to criticize.”

Last year Huckabee told the Jewish Week that he might support creation of a Palestinian State — if it isn’t put on Palestinian territory.

Dr. Joseph Frager, a longtime opponent of Israeli land concessions on the West Bank and in Jerusalem, will also be on the trip.

Huck is widely regarded as one of a slew of early frontrunners for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. His chances may depend on whether he can energize the party’s evangelical Christian base; taking hardline positions on Israel can’t hurt with that effort.

For a sharp look at Huckabee’s emerging 2012 strategy, take a look at this Washington Post story.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.