Latest update: March 14th, 2013
Sometimes I feel my passion for Israel exceeds even that of my Jewish friends. As I tell people, it is impossible to be a Christian and not believe that Israel is God’s Chosen Land and that, as God promises in the Bible, nations that bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed.
My first trip to Israel occurred nearly forty years ago, in July 1973, just a couple of months before the Yom Kippur War when I was a teenager. I’ve been going back to Israel ever since.
Whenever I visit Israel I venture into the Old City. I go into some of the shops where one can purchase a Palestinian map. In February I had two hundred people I took with me, most of whom were Christians and had never been there before. I wanted them to understand what is unique about this situation.
I got one of these maps and said, “By the way, open the map and show me where Israel is.” And they opened it up and didn’t see it. And I said, “Interesting isn’t it? Somehow Israelis are asked to make peace with a people who even in their published maps refuse to acknowledge even so much as the existence of the Jewish state.”
Israel often gets criticized for the actions it takes to protect its citizens. For example, Israel was and still is pilloried for its construction of the security wall (or fence) but until that security wall was erected it was a common occurrence for people to strap bombs to their bellies and board a bus and kill innocent men, women and children. With the construction of that wall, those acts of terror virtually stopped.
Shall we be critical of those who wish to protect their babies? Shall we condemn those who wish for peace in their neighborhoods, for their children to play in a park, for their wives to visit to a café or supermarket without the fear of being blown up by a terrorist?
We would never tolerate in our own cities what the people of Sderot have been asked to tolerate. I have been to Sderot and have seen the thousands of Katyusha rockets stacked up behind the police station. I can tell you that it is an absolutely sobering experience to understand that people have fear every day that a Katyusha rocket might land on their children’s bedroom, the park where they play, the schools they attend, the synagogues where they worship.
I would ask my fellow Americans, how many Katyusha rockets fired from Toronto into Buffalo do you think it would take before we would demand that our government did something to stop it? Five thousand? Four Thousand? Three Thousand? One hundred? No – just one Katyusha rocket is all it would take. And the Israelis have been asked to let it go after thousands of them.
I say one is enough, and Israelis must quit apologizing to the world and say, “We have a right to a secure and safe homeland – not just for us but for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a place that is a safe place, a haven.”
And if anybody wonders why a safe haven for Jews is necessary, they should talk to me. I’ll tell them what I’ve learned from my many visits to Yad Vashem and my experience this past January when my wife and I traveled to Poland. We went to Schindler’s factory and then to Auschwitz and Birkenau. As I stood in the very place where 1.1 million Jews were murdered in cold blood, chills came over me as I realized what had happened there. I prayed, “May the world never forget what happened.”
When I visited the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, it was a brutal reminder of what happens when politicians make decisions that don’t involve their brains. When you demand that people abandon their homes because you somehow believe you can trust radical Islamic fascists to keep their word and make nice if you’ll make nice, it shows a level of naiveté that makes a Chamberlain look like a Churchill.
It is time we recognize you don’t negotiate with people who do not believe you have a right to exist.
I cannot understand why our secretary of state visited Egypt and handed over a check of $250 million at a time we are closing the White House to tours. That makes no sense at all. Why did he give F16s and Abram tanks to a country whose elected president is associated with a terrorist organization and has publicly called Jews bloodsuckers and the descendants of apes and pigs? Why would you reward someone like that?
During his Senate confirmation hearing Mr. Kerry said the Egyptians would be held accountable. Dear Mr. Secretary, please hold me accountable because I’d like $250 million too. If being held accountable means one can make radical, ridiculous, offensive and inexcusable statements and still get millions, we should all share in the spoils. Talk about absurd!
That’s why I believe with all my heart that when President Obama goes to Israel next week, it is important that the American people give him a message rather than he give Israelis a message.
And that message is this: “Mr. President, Americans stand with Israel because it is a mirror image of our own freedom and democracy. And we suggest that before you make any demands of the Israelis to give up anything, you sit down and look the Palestinians in the face and ask them what they have given up.”
And Mr. Obama should do something I would love to do if I were making that trip as the president of the United States: Tell the Israelis to build as rapidly as they can and as much as they can. And tell the Palestinians that if they don’t like it, the way they can fix it is to sit at the peace table and sign an agreement that they recognize the right of Israelis to exist, safely and securely, within the borders God gave them.
That will probably never happen, so I say: Pour the concrete, build the houses, and let Israel be strong!
This essay is adapted from his keynote address to the Gush Katif Museum Dinner on March 9 at the Razag ballroom in Brooklyn.
About the Author: Former Arkansas governor and ordained minister Mike Huckabee is the host of the number-one rated weekend hit “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel and Cumulus Media Network’s syndicated radio program “The Mike Huckabee Show,” heard on more than 175 stations. He’s also heard three times daily across the nation on “The Huckabee Report,” syndicated on almost 600 stations.
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