MSNBC host Chris Matthews recently referred to Mike Huckabee as a lunatic, accusing him of wanting to remove all Palestinians from the West Bank in a policy that would amount to ethnic cleansing of millions of people.
Huckabee, appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, quickly returned the fire.
“Chris, see a doctor,” he urged Matthews. “Do it quickly. You’re out of control. You’re off your meds. You absolutely must get help, and do it today.”
Here’s the interview:
What’s interesting about the interview is that Huckabee doesn’t try to deny the basic charge that Matthews leveled against him; he simply tries to deny that it’s lunacy. He tries to justify it.
In fact, for several years now Huckabee has laid out an undeniably radical point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. For starters, he opposes creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, which contradicts decades of bipartisan American consensus on how to resolve that issue. But that’s not the crazy part.
Huckabee also believes and has stated repeatedly that the Palestinians have no right to any of the land where they have lived for thousands of years. In Huckabee’s mind, Israelis own it all, and in fact have the right to live anywhere in the occupied West Bank they might wish, even on land technically owned by Palestinians.
“The Jewish people have indigenous rights to the land in which they occupy and live and it goes back not 60 years or 80 years but it goes back 3,500 years,” Huckabee said on one trip to Israel, making it clear that he was referring not just to the state of Israel but all of the conquered territory on the West Bank as well, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
Huckabee also has strongly opposed any international or American effort to halt the growth of Jewish settlements in the region, again because in his mind the West Bank is as much a part of Israel as Arkansas is a part of the United States.
“To tell Jewish people, ‘You cannot live here, you cannot raise your children here,’ this is the true racism, this is apartheid,” Huckabee said. “I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English.”
But he is perfectly willing to say such things to Palestinians.
Theoretically, Huckabee says, he’s fine with a Palestinian state. It just can’t be in Palestine. “There are vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs,” he says, suggesting that the Palestinian state — and thus the Palestinian people — be moved elsewhere.
“The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that,” he said in a 2009 trip to Israel. “Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.”
In the end, I don’t think Matthews was far off in his assessment of Huckabee’s position. The former Baptist preacher clearly believes that the Palestinians have no right to live where they have lived for centuries because the land was promised to Israel by God more than 3,500 years ago. He has said repeatedly — and implies it again in the Ingraham interview — that you can’t have two groups of people “living on top of each other” in that region, and that a Palestinian state has to be created outside of Palestine.
Ethnic cleansing of Arabs would seem to be the only means to achieve the goals that Huckabee sets out.
I understand that for Huckabee, this is essentially a deeply held religious belief. On religious grounds alone, I can respect that. However, I do not think it possible to elect a person with such beliefs to the presidency of the United States, where he would have the power to implement such a deeply inhumane and disastrous policy.
– Jay Bookman