Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Republicans Attack Obama’s Israel-Palestine Policies

The close alignment of some Republican Party stalwarts with Israel’s rightwing government signals a significant political shift on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(Inter Press Service)

Former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was in Israel and the occupied West Bank last week, stridently critici zing President Barack Obama’s policies of pushing for a freeze on Israeli settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Huckabee, a former two-term governor of Arkansas, is a leading contender to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. His outspoken criticism of Obama while visiting a foreign country has raised questions about whether the old  saying that “Partisan politics stops at the water’s edge” still applies.

In addition, the fact that Huckabee and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) have closely aligned themselves with Israel’s rightwing government rather than with Obama on the key issue of settlements  is an indication of a deeper shift in U.S. politics.

It used to be that Israeli governments got more support from the Democratic Party than from Republicans. Now, Israel’s right ist government is getting deeper and more vocal support from many Republicans than it is getting from most Democrats.

The shift has not been total. Like Huckabee and Cantor, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has also been in Israel in recent weeks. And like them, he took the opportunity of his visit to critici ze Obama’s policy on settlements.

All three men have been among the numerous U.S. legislators and other politicians who have visited Israel this summer as the guests of pro-Israeli organi zations.

However, Huckabee is the only one of these three figures who expressed adamant opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state —an outcome that even President George W. Bush supported.

Huckabee is also the only one of these prominent visitors to Israel who was hosted by the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, an organi zation that actively funds the implantation of additional Jewish settlers into occupied East Jerusalem. Cantor’s and Hoyer’s trips were funded by an organi zation affiliated with the  much more mainstream (but pro-Likud party) American Israel Public Affairs Committee  (AIPAC).

In addition, Huckabee is the only prominent American visitor this summer who spent most of his time not in Israel itself, but in the settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. One of the places he visited, the settlement outpost Givat Olam, is considered “unauthori zed” even by Israel’s very pro-settler government.

Writing on his HuckPac blog on August 18, Huckabee described the cities of Nablus, Bethlehem, and Ramallah, located in the heart of the Palestinian West Bank, as parts of Israelis’ “own country.” He added that he believed that Israelis “should be able to live wherever they want in that country.”

Huckabee told an AP reporter that he had “no problem” with the idea of the Palestinians getting a state of their own. But he added, “Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.” He told journalists there were “a lot of places all over the planet” that could host the Palestinian state, though he declined to specify which place he would favor.

Herb Keinon reported in Israel’s conservative Jerusalem Post that Huckabee told Israeli journalists about his religious commitment as an evangelical Baptist pastor.

Huckabee then reportedly said of his fellow-evangelicals, “We are very much of the understanding that if there had not been Judaism, there would not be Christianity. We have no organic connection, for example, to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and atheism. But we have absolute, total genetic DNA ties to Judaism.”

Keinon noted that one Israeli journalist wondered aloud whether Huckabee was just “an American version of [Israeli politician] Moshe Feiglin: a marginali zed, out-of-office politician on the far right with little national significance.”

But Keinon sees it differently: “Huckabee does have national significance, even if he is out of office.”

Indeed, on August 19, Public Policy Polling (PPP) reported that Huckabee, who came second only to John McCain in last year’s Republican primary, now looks like the strongest Republican candidate in 2012.

PPP’s Tom Jensen reported that if the election were held now and Huckabee and Obama were the candidates, Huckabee would come within three percentage points of Obama: 44 percent to 47 percent.

Many things can change between now and 2012, of course. Right now, Obama is being hammered hard on health care policy, and his national popularity, though still strong, is starting to fall.

Many U.S. progressives who worked hard to get Obama elected are starting to express concern that, on the Palestinian-Israeli issue as on health care, he and his administration seem to have lost momentum.

On health care, Obama missed a stated deadline of getting Congress to pass reform legislation before the August recess. And when Democratic lawmakers went back to their districts for the recess and tried to discuss health care reform with constituents, many faced virulent opposition from loosely organi zed networks of rightwing opponents.

But at least, on health care, Obama and his fellow Democrats in the House and Senate have been working hard to formulate and push for an actual plan. And Obama and his cabinet members have been proactively making their pro-reform arguments heard as widely as possible —even during the recess.

On the Palestine question they have been much quieter.

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have continued to issue periodic, largely pro forma restatements of the policies the president articulated several months ago about the need for a settlement freeze and a two-state solution.

But so far neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor special envoy George Mitchell has done anything to operationali ze either of these stated goals. (For more on this issue, see Leon Hadar, “Waiting for Obama,” Right Web, July 26, 2009.)

And thus far, no one in the administration has done anything to tackle head-on the arguments that Huckabee and other influential figures have been making so loudly about the supposed dangers to Israelis and the U.S. of the president’s Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

That has allowed Huckabee and other critics to dominate the airwaves on these issues and to frame the debate just about however they want.

A veteran Middle East analyst and author, Helena Cobban reports for the Inter Press Service and blogs at www.JustWorldNews.org.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share