On February 2, ex-Governor of Arkansas and former presidential contender Mike Huckabee was honored at a special Knesset event hosted by Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon (Likud), in which Huckabee said he would be a voluntary ambassador for Israel.
Baptist pastor Huckabee, who was a Republican presidential nominee in 2008, is currently leading a week-long trip of 170 people touring throughout Israel. He will attend private meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
This is Huckabee's third visit to Israel in less than two years.
US Iran Policy 'Disturbing'
Speaking in the Knesset's Negev Hall, Huckabee said he was "disturbed" by the way the United States is handling the increasing nuclear capabilities of Iran. "A nuclear device, in the hands of a madman like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is simply unacceptable, and the world – not just Israel, but the rest of the free world – must make it clear that that cannot and will not happen, under any circumstances, at any time." Huckabee recalled a speech made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in which he warned Israeli legislators, "This is 1938. And Iran is Germany." He expressed his support for this outlook, telling attendees that Iran must be stopped.
He offered criticism of the administration of President Barack Obama, whjich he said has misplaced its priorities in the region. "It pains me that I hear more concern from this administration of our country, talking about the building of a baby's nursery in a Jewish-owned community in Israel, than about the construction of a nuclear bomb in Iran."
Huckabee's statement was received with vigorous applause.
Huckabee spoke with warmth and friendship in regard to the relationship between Israel and the average American, between the Jewish people and Christians around the world. He said he hopes Jews and Christians can hope for each others' continuing strength and partnership.
In an interview with INN TV's Yoni Kempinski, Huckabee expressed a high opinion of the Jewish State. He told Kempinski that he enjoys coming to Israel with those who have never visited before because he gets to witness what he called the "Aha factor", a deeper understanding and relationship to the issues they only hear about in the news back in the US.
He also heaped praise on the country for "its extraordinary level of economic and technological depth and power."
He credited the national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, for opening his eyes to the importance of a Jewish state.
"I just came from Yad Vashem, I spent the morning there," Huckabee told Kempinski. "How can anyone go through Yad Vashem and not understand that the Jewish people were on the brink of extinction, not because they were fanatic religious people, but because they were Jewish? Israel was established to give the Jewish people a place of refuge and safety – is that too much to ask, especially when they're occupying 8,000 square miles, that's it, on the entire planet?"
"I don't think anybody rationally can say 'well, they just have too doggone much territory, they have too much land.' Too much of what? They have to pump their water in every way possible and squeeze every possible benefit of every drop! They essentially took over a desert, they turned it green, they've fed themselves and fed half the world from it, their technology is unbelievable, number two in patents worldwide. If anything, the world should say 'thank you Israel' for establishing not just a place of refuge but a place really that has been an influence to the rest of the world."
Words of Prayer
Huckabee's closing statements in the Knesset were offered in prayer. "My hope and my prayer is that not only will you sense our gratitude for your hospitality and for your candor in sharing with us the perspective you have brought to us today, but I also would sincerely want to express that it is our desire to go back to our home, not only as good and faithful and loyal Americans, but also as voluntarily ambassadors for our friends in Israel, that we might always pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that we might always work for the stability, the safety, and the security of this land, and these people, our friends, our family. G-d bless you."
A January poll by Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling showed that if elections were held on the day of the poll, Huckabee would defeat incumbent Barack Obama.