McCain's VP Mate May Be Jewish Senator or Baptist Preacher
McCain's VP Mate May Be Jewish Senator or Baptist Preacher

Baptist preacher and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee soon will be accompanied by religious Jewish New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind on a two-day visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall (Kotel) and the rocket-battered southern town of Sderot. Jewish Senator Joe Lieberman toured Israel earlier this year, and both men are eyeing the Republican vice-presidential spot.

Sen. Lieberman, who ran with presidential candidate Al Gore in 2004 in a bid to become the first American Jewish vice president, has bucked the Democratic party to become an independent. He strongly backs Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain and gave him a guided tour of the Western Wall and Sderot earlier this year.

Republican Baptist preacher Huckabee and Democratic Orthodox Jew Hikind two months ago appeared together at a Jerusalem Reclamation Project-Ateret Kohanim dinner New York in celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary. On their two-day trip in Israel, they will talk with Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who for the past year has topped most of the polls for Israel's next Prime Minister.

During their visit to the Western Wall, where Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama recently toured, Huckabee and Hikind will be escorted by leaders of Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva, located in the Old Jewish Quarter of the Old City, now populated predominantly by Arabs.

"Governor Huckabee's commitment to Israel is legendary," said Hikind. "He is one of the great American leaders whose support of the Jewish state is inviolable."

His political views on Arabs in the Middle East are welcome by Israeli nationalists. Huckabee told CNN in January, "It would be very problematic for Israel to give up the West Bank, from their own standpoint of security. The same thing with the Golan Heights--giving up the Golan Heights makes most of the Galilee a sitting target."

Huckabee continued:

"There is an enormous amount of land in Arab control all over the Middle East. And to say that it [a Palestinian state] has to be on the West Bank… limits the capacity to bring some type of resolution. But let's be honest, there is not going to be some instant kumbaya moment where everybody builds the campfire, toasts marshmallows, and sings, holding hands. This conflict is not new. It has been going on since all the way to the time of Abraham. And it's not going to be resolved any time in the immediate future."
Huckabee has expressed admiration for Sen. Lieberman but also sees limits on his capabilities. "I have a lot of respect for Sen. Lieberman," he recently stated. "I think he's a great man, and if John McCain, as president, picked him to be secretary of state or some other cabinet position, I don't think anyone has a problem with that. But I don't know that he would be a good fit to be vice president."

Huckabee, who was introduced by Hikind at the Jerusalem Reclamation Project dinner in June, has visited Israel nine times. However, most of the visits concentrated on Christian sites, and some Jews fear he backs Israel for missionary motives.