Former GOP pres. candidate Mike Huckabee
Former GOP pres. candidate Mike HuckabeeIsrael news photo: Gil Ronen

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday that the United States should not be telling Jewish people where they can and cannot live in Jerusalem, and he compared such a policy with racial segregation [watch video].

“My question is how would the government of the United States feel if Prime Minister Netanyahu began to dictate which people could live in the Bronx, which ones could live in Manhattan, and which could live in Queens,’” he said. Huckabee spoke with reporters as he toured the remains of the ancient Jewish City of David (Ir David) in eastern Jerusalem Monday.

“The position that our government has taken recently is far more harsh [than the previous administration’s], even halting peace talks until there is compliance with these demands,” he noted. “I’m not sure where we would get the authority to demand of the Israelis what they should do in their own country.”

After touring the Pool of Shiloach (Silwan) and Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the governor said, “I think that there is some concern that many of us have who have been coming to Israel for many years. I’m not Jewish, so I am not trying to stand up for the Jewish people but for the freedom of the Israeli people who I feel have an organic relationship to the United States as the only democracy in the Middle East, as the only place where freedom and liberty and personal capacity to make choices really thrives. It’s in the vital interest of not just the Middle East but the world that freedom exists.”

Asked if he would support an Israeli military strike against Iran, the man touted as the leading candidate for the Republican presidential ticket in 2012 stated he “would support Israel doing whatever Israel needs to protect [itself].” He added that the United States would never want anybody to tell it the boundaries of how it can protect itself. “I think we can certainly advise as a friend to Israel,” he explained, “but we have no right to dictate and outright tell another country what it should or shouldn’t do. Heck, we don’t do that with North Korea!

“I’d like to think that the rights of Jewish people in their own homeland would be the same as the rights of American people in their homeland,” Huckabee said. “We take our rights very seriously.”

Huckabee's visit was arranged by Ateret Kohanim, a group that facilitates Jewish settlement of Jerusalem's eastern neighborhoods. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, along with activists Dr. Joe Frager and Dr. Paul Brody, joined the tour and explained to Huckabee the significance of the Jewish housing projects in eastern Jerusalem.