Former Arkansas governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee got everyone’s attention this weekend when, during an interview with Breitbart News, he said that the Obama administration’s deal with Iran was like taking “the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Not only did President Obama call Huckabee’s rhetoric “ridiculous” and “sad,” but Huckabee was chastised by members of his own party. But since he’s running against others of said party, that might not be as bad as being lectured by those he so vehemently wants to defend — Israelis themselves.
“These are not words that I would use or that I think are appropriate,” Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told USA Today’s “Capital Download” July 27. Although the envoy is currently lobbying Congress to kill the Iran deal, he made it very plain that he thought that the Obama administration had acted in good faith and had reached a deal thought to be beneficial to both the U. S. and Israel. But on that point, the government of Israel disagrees.
“Look, we have a very serious disagreement with the administration on a very serious issue,” Dermer said. “But what I don’t doubt is the sincerity of the president or his team when they say they believe this deal not only makes America safe but makes Israel safe. Where we disagree is the judgment of actually what this deal is going to do.”
Dermer made certain he clarified his intent. “We don’t in any way impugn the motives of the people who are doing this deal,” he told “Capital Download.” “I think it’s important to conduct this debate in a way that’s befitting of the alliance between our two countries.”
Mike Huckabee, an outspoken opponent of President Obama’s anit-nuclear/economic sanctions lifting deal with Iran, labeled it “idiotic” in his Breitbart interview. He then said, according to The Independent, “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
It wasn’t surprising to hear Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton say that Huckabee’s comments were “unacceptable.” And Huckabee’s fellow contender, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, followed suit. But it goes without saying that Mike Huckabee most likely did not foresee actual Israelis — those who work in the Israeli government — chastising him for his crude remarks that likened Obama’s Iran nuclear deal to a modern Jewish Holocaust.
Yisrael Katz, Isreal’s transport minister and political ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Facebook that, while he could appreciate Huckabee’s concern for his Middle Eastern country, his comments were an overreach.
“Respected Mr. Huckabee: nobody marches the Jews to ovens anymore,” Katz wrote (per The Jerusalem Post). “To this end we established the State of Israel and the [Israel Defense Forces]; and, if need be, we will know how to defend ourselves, by ourselves.”
Some are claiming that Mike Huckabee’s comments are a desperate attempt to get his political stock to rise by using contentious and controversial rhetoric — a la Donald Trump, who has seen his own poll numbers increase to the point of poll leadership in the last few weeks (even though he has insulted Latinos and Mexicans and Sen. John McCain and Texas governor Rick Perry and China and…). True or no, it remains to be seen if his comments will hurt or benefit his candidacy, as Huckabee’s poll numbers have remained in the single-digit range between 5 and 9 for quite a few polls of late (as can be seen at Real Clear Politics), because he’s not backing down from his comments.