Huckabee’s pro-settler stance part of bigger US shift

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in Israel this week. He’s making a point of touring many of Israel’s (illegal) settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. (Richard Silverstein has one version of Huck’s settlement-focused itinerary in this very informative blog post.)
While visiting with Jewish settlers in occupied east Jerusalem today, he said the U.S. should not “be telling Jewish people in Israel where they should and should not live.”
At the same time that Huckabee is hanging out with people in the Israelis settlements, so is another figure from the US rightwing, Orly Taitz, known as the “Queen Bee of the birther movement”– that is, the movement of those rightwing Americans who are obsessed with the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the US and is therefore ineligible to be president.
Like Huckabee, Taitz has strongly criticized Pres. Obama’s campaign to persuade Israel to halt its settlement-building program.
The participation of these two figures from US politics in the orbit of Israel’s settler extremists is part of a deeper shift in US politics. It used to be that just about all of the US Democratic Party was staunchly pro-Israel and would line up like clockwork to defend Israel’s perceived interests, including against any policies of the US administration that might seek to curb Israeli expansionism and militarism.
Back then– oh, let’s say through the end of the 1990s– if you’d hear much open criticism of the Israeli government’s policies from participants in US national politics, it would nearly always come from Republicans.
But over the years things have been slowly changing. (Though still incompletely, as for example here.)
Now, almost no-one in the Democratic Party is prepared to side with this government of Israel against Obama’s extremely reasonable campaign on the settlements issue. And it is the right wing in the country– including not only such seeming nutters as the Israeli-American Orly Taitz but also someone much nearer the GOP mainstream like Mike Huckabee– who are at the forefront of the campaign to “defend” the Israeli government against the policies of the US president.
There are a number of reasons for this shift, which in my view is long overdue. Speaking as someone who is both an upholder of Palestinian (as well as Israeli) rights and generally on the left of the US political spectrum, I can say that for many, many years it felt pretty darn lonely in the camp of “PIPs”– Americans who are Progressive, Including on Palestine. The camp of Americans who were PEPs– Progressive, Except on Palestine– always seemed so much larger. Until the past few years.
(I think this PIP/PEP nomenclature was developed by the estimable Phil Weiss, who is definitely at the forefront of today’s PIPs.)

19 thoughts on “Huckabee’s pro-settler stance part of bigger US shift”

  1. You seem happy that the Democrats have shifted since the Clinton years and have come to show some backbone when it comes to confronting Israel. You’re right, that is a very welcome development, especially if it is sustained.
    However, I think it is tragic that Republicans may be starting to move the other way, whatever their reasons. Isn’t it possible for both parties to song from at least a similar sheet on this issue?

  2. Hummm…Hoyer sure sounded like he was siding with the Lukids instead of Obama in the interview during his trip to Israel. Reid can’t cowtow enough to his Israeli friends in Nevada. Pelosi hasn’t ever held up American dog tags of missing or dead Americans as she did the IDF’s. Israel kills american like Corrie and Anderson whenver the mood strikes them and the dems in congress don’t make a peep.
    There aren’t words to express how disgusted most of us are with this Israeli fetish in our congress and government.
    They are traitors…let me repeat that…the Hoyers, the Cantors the Bermans, the Huckabees, the Liebermans, the “I am a zionist’ Bidens, the a ‘vote against Bolton is a vote against Israel’ Schumers, the Israel’s cause is America’s cause Kerrys, ad nausum, ad nausum….all the politicans who vow to expend every resource, treasure and drop of American blood for what Nixon rightly called a shitty little country that is nothing but a collection of eternal welfare babies, religious and ethnic cultist and midget nazis…are traitors.
    When will we get updated treason laws to handle the modern reality of the treasonous corruption that exist in our so called representatives of the American people?
    Probably not until these traitors have drained us, sucked the marrow out of the bones of America and left it to rot and we real Americans build it back.
    This is America, this isn’t Israel. And that will be the famous last line someone utters on this Israel abberration in the US.

  3. Democrat backbone? Democrat backbone is to deliver health coverage for all Americans, like I have been waiting for decades, like Obama promised and got my vote for, like other industrialized countries have. On that he run. And then he squanders the window of opportunity while the capitalism system was down for the count, with AIG and GM eating from his hand to do what? To court the Iranians, the Al Arabiya, the Cairo University, and the senseless sucking up to the moslems, on which he did not run, and actually he hid his middle name on. Wasting his energy and political capital on whether 20 or 200 hundred jews can set up a tent here or 200 meters over there.
    Oh, and the Afghanistan war, money and lives going to a retrograd and barren place that for all I care if Osama Bin Laden wants to have, he can have that cursed land. Get out of there already.
    Backbone is Health reform and out of Afghanistan, both of them now!

  4. There is much history behind the Jewish presence in the Sheikh Jarrah/Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood. Nadav Shragai writes extensively about this in his article ( ). He shows that “The Sheikh Jarrah-Mt. Scopus area – the focus of a dispute between the Obama administration and Israel over building housing units in the Shepherd Hotel compound – has been a mixed Jewish-Arab area for many years. The Jewish population is currently centered in three places: around the tomb of Shimon HaTzadik (a fourth century BCE high priest), the Israeli government compound in Sheikh Jarrah, and Hadassah Hospital-Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.”

  5. There are no surprises with the behaviour of Huckabee or other US officials.
    This not first and last time US officials have publically support Israelis as government, or Israeli acts, Israeli wars against her neighbours, Israeli crimes against Palestinians, all the time they give justifications that support Israelis and her crimes for past long years .
    If a poll holds now in US, it will show the majority of US public and political front support Israel than any ME country or Islamic one.
    Helena you wasting your time talking about Huckabee with his support for Israel, you really need to look deeper in the cause of this behaviour of most if not all of them why and what behind their passion to say so and do so.
    Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction in the Middle East.

    we thought there is a need to base policy toward the Middle East on the complex realities that America confronts there. For too long, ideological blinders or theoretical views of the region have guided those who shaped and made U.S. policy.

  6. Now, almost no-one in the Democratic Party is prepared to side with this government of Israel against Obama’s extremely reasonable campaign on the settlements issue.
    I flat out don’t believe it. The Deomcrat Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the AIPAC.
    Obama’s campaign is “extremely reasonable” because the settlements keep growing and expanding and the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem is going according to schedule. Eminently reaasonable from the DNC/AIPAC point of view.
    Obama can say whatever he likes, he delivers when he’s called upon to do so, whether it’s occupying Iraq forever, expanding the aggressive war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, rolling over for Wall Street or for the insurance companies and big pharma.
    The problem is so many people voted for him when they knew, or should have known, exactly what the 800 million dollar man was up to. He put it in writing for goodness sakes! The are willful enablers of the Obama charade.

  7. Mike Huckabee is plagued like all Bible quoting individuals with the conviction that it says what he thinks it means.
    The probability that this individual or some one of similar bent may be considered by some Americans as Presidential material can only add to the potential that 300 million Americans can also have a singing and strumming “religious pastor” as President.
    Thus making Israel and the US the only two chosen peoples fo some 7.6 billion.

  8. To show you that Huckabee has gone zonkers – here is a quote he made to the Jerusalem Post.
    The same international community that granted Palestine to Jews ought to decide where Palestinians should establish their homeland, he said.
    “The question is, should the Palestinians have a place to call their own?” he asked. “Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.”
    He seems to feel that the Palestinians should be ethnically cleansed from the land and dumped somewhere else. Evil still lurks in the hearts of man .

  9. He seems to feel that the Palestinians should be ethnically cleansed from the land and dumped somewhere else.
    With respect for your good intentions, he sounds like he would fit right in with Zionists from Herzl to Ben Gurion to Benny Morris and beyond. Yes, OK, a few of the “transfer” options considered by the Zionists (specifically the Iraq option) included helping the Palestinians establish themselves elsewhere, so were not precisely about dumping them, but by and large where the Palestinians went, how they got there, and what they did to survive once they were there was no concern of the Zionists as long as they could “spirit them across the border by denying them employment” or by whatever other means were necessary.
    So, Huckabee, as a Christian Zionist, understands what is needed to bring Zionism to its full realization. Of course, what he and his ilk have in mind to happen after that is hardly “good for the Jews”, but that is the price for their support of Israel, and some Jews appear to accept it despite that little downside.

  10. I agree with John Francis on the Afghanistan Obama position. I was wondering the other day how come there is no movement in the US against that. We use to have the fellows with plaquards here in CA protesting Iraq but not Afghanistan. Is this because they don’t care or they wouldn’r protest against Obama?
    Out of Afghanistan NOW!

  11. Titus,
    I didn’t realize you were such a fan of conservative talk radio nonsense.
    The reason for the drop in resistance to US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is the same reason there was no great outrage when the first Bush sent troops to Somalia. Somalia and Afganistan were and are viewed as humanitarian missions, not purely an invasion of a country that didn’t attack the US and wasn’t threatening the US.
    (For those unfamilar with conservative talk radio it was a standard theme during the runup to the invasion of Iraq that Clinton sent the troops into Somalia and that’s why there was no protest.)

  12. “Now, almost no-one in the Democratic Party is prepared to side with this government of Israel against Obama’s extremely reasonable campaign on the settlements issue.”
    I am not convinced this is true.
    Howard Berman has put out a press release stating that Abbas should ignore Obama’s freeze demand and start negotiating. Steny Hoyer agrees and has made a bunch of provocative statements on his current junket to Israel. He is joined by 28 House Democrats who I would not trust to back Obama.
    Also the Democrats could not pass a non-binding resolution which basically says they support the efforts of both Mitchell and Obama in Israel/Palestine. It was killed in Berman’s Foreign Policy Committee.
    It is true that some political support for Obama is being organized or supported by some Democrats. But to think they are all on board with our man in Palestine is a stretch.
    BTW, I am not all that sure Obama is on board with Obama if you get my drift.
    BTW, I love reading your blog and think you are one of the most well-informed writers in cyberspace. However, on this point I strongly disagree.

  13. David, I listen to only one voice in AM radio, the straight shooter no nonsense Michael Savage, although I part ways with him on health care and global warming. On the FM band I listen to Pacifica Radio, and that is further out to left field than Savage is to the right.
    I differ David with your view, Afghanistan is an invasion, we put a puppet in power, we pushed democracy on a culture that is not ready for that, and we kill civilians with drones much more than in Iraq. The objective differences are that Obama is in power, and that Iraq is Arab and Afghanistan is not. How many Afghanis are around here to organize and stir up the usual Arab victimization stories?

  14. Titus,
    Thanks for the good laugh this morning. When I read “straight shooter no nonsense Michael Savage” I actually laughed out loud. We say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I think the titles of Savage’s books do tell us quite a bit; “The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on our Schools, Faith, and Military”, “Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder”.
    We (the US) invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and try to capture and/or kill Osama bin Laden who attacked the US on 9/11/2001. Despite Bush and Cheney’s protestations to the contrary the CIA and most Americans saw no connection between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and knew perfectly well the Iraq didn’t attack us and wasn’t threatening us. That’s why the difference in objections to the two invasions.
    What we are trying to accomplish now in Afghanistan is debatable, but large numbers of people see it as humanitarian not a war of choice, like Iraq was. People favor using the military for humanitarian assistance not so much wars of choice.

  15. David I am glad I brought you some joy. I never read his books so I can’t say, but listen to the show, he does have a humorous though bitter style. Like me. You can get even more laughs with Pacifica Radio and Nora Barros Goldstein, or some of the arabic anchors that sound like the Arab charicaturesque characters one expects in a Schwarzenegger movie. Like they got off the boat yesterday from some Arab country without the right to speak, and the next day they have a radio show in the US.
    Anyway, the 9/11 justification for Afghanistan is over. I think we kicked the Al Qaeda out of Tora Bora Bora Tora caves in a few months and since then it is the lie that one can convert them to a liberal democracy with women rights, equality, etc. etc. Nonsense, they are incapable, they don’t want it. why are we doing it. Six Americans died yesterday, is it worth it?
    Get some National Geographics from the 60s 70s whatever and read about the tribal land, nothing has changed, nothing will change. Before God decided to hide his face from human affairs it would have looked at Afghanistan and said what he said for Sdom in the Bible, and proceeded to erase and start over. We are not God, we can’t neither destroy nor fix that sad place and sadder people. If they want to be ruled by Talibans, that is fine with me, they deserve each other. The arrogance of the NGOs knows no limits, I visualize a bunch of pedantic Helenas running around with US taxpayer money that ends up in drug production and arms. Let’s turn of the lights and leave, man up Obama.

  16. large numbers of people see it as humanitarian
    Do you have any actual evidence that what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan is primarily seen as humanitarian? I think the majority of people who are in favor of it (and according to the latest poll that number is down to 47%, with 51% saying it is not worth fighting) see it as some sort of righteous good vs. evil thing, or revenge for Sept. 11. Maybe a handful of delusional people have convinced themselves that it is humanitarian, but I don’t think that amounts to very many.
    People favor using the military for humanitarian assistance not so much wars of choice.
    Are you saying that people actually believe that what the military does – bombing, shooting, killing, maiming, destroying – can ever be called “humanitarian assistance”? I find that hard to believe. I don’t recall which well-known general said this, but it is the job of a military to kill people and destroy things. That is the exact opposite of humanitarian. Humanitarian war is an oxymoron.

  17. I’m going to claim that humanitarian and good vs. evil are in this instance the same. Americans view most Afghans as good and being subjugated by the Taliban who are viewed as evil if for no other reason than the treatment of women. And they view our troops as trying to free the people from that oppression.
    While many may have viewed our original invasion as revenge, I don’t believe it is currently viewed as revenge.
    And yes, the support is dwindling and will continue to go down with every American soldier that is killed. It will also go down with every wedding party that gets hit with a missile by “mistake”.
    It becomes not worth fighting when it becomes obvious as it did in Somalia that the people prefer the warlords over democracy. In one of the only correct statements Titus said above “the people aren’t ready for democracy”.
    As for your second claim, yes, wars kill people. Collateral damage is unavoidable. I am certainly not going to argue otherwise.

  18. Titus,
    You now seem to indicate that you don’t share Savage’s views since you don’t read his books. My time is a little more precious to me. I learn things from this site even if I don’t agree with Helena’s or most of the commenter’s views. What are you learning from Savage or the others you named?
    I’m not religious and I don’t know if you’re Jewish but I believe there is a Jewish prayer for the government under the idea that a government is better than the chaos that would ensure without one. To have invaded Afghanistan, topple the Taliban government and then just leave and let the Afghans fight it out in a free for all to see who gets to be on top would be irresponsible for any country and especially for the US which likes to pride itself on helping other countries. (Even if sometimes that help is very misguided).
    Last point Titus. The last part of your first paragraph is just base bigotry.
    “Like they got off the boat yesterday from some Arab country without the right to speak, and the next day they have a radio show in the US.”
    Leaving aside the question of inalienable rights, the first amendment applies to everyone the second they touch down in the US whether by boat, plane or ran across the border. As for having a radio show the next day – isn’t that the essence of American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship.

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