Mike Huckabee: With Iran Deal, Obama ‘Marching Israel to the Door of the Oven’
Trailing far behind his GOP rivals in every major national poll, former Arkansas governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate has raised eyebrows and ire by invoking genocidal Holocaust imagery to criticize President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
As Huckabee struggles to lift his flagging approval ratings from the low-to-mid single digits in an almost desperate bid to rank among the top 10 GOP presidential candidates so he can make it onto the Fox News debate stage next month, the fundamentalist Christian candidate has taken to making the sort of inflammatory statements that garnered so much negative press in the past.
In an interview with the conservative website Breitbart News, Huckabee launched a verbal blitzkrieg against President Barack Obama, who is enjoying something of a resurgence following historic moves to make peace with longtime US adversaries Cuba and Iran.
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” Huckabee asserted. “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.”
Under the terms of the deal reached between Iran, the United States and other world powers, Iran has agreed to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years, reduce by two-thirds the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for a decade, and other concessions in return for a lifting of crippling economic sanctions and the release of more than $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets.
Iran has long claimed it is not seeking to build a nuclear bomb and that its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes. All 16 US intelligence agencies, as well as leading Israeli military and intelligence officials, agree that Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.
But Huckabee has called Iran’s fundamentalist Muslim dictatorship a “snake” that cannot be trusted and must be destroyed.
“When you’re dealing with snakes, you’re dealing with an entity with which you cannot reason,” the GOP presidential hopeful said during a visit to Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestine claim as its capital, earlier this year. “You can’t pet the snake, you can’t feed it, you don’t try to make friends with it, you don’t invite it into your home—you kill the snake, because the snake will bite you if it has the chance.”
Conservatives in both Israel and the United States often invoke the Holocaust when the subject of Iran is raised. Critics counter that Jews are free to live and practice their religion in Iran and that it is Israel, backed by its arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons, acts more aggressively in the Middle East than Iran, which hasn’t initiated a war since the 1700s.
Huckabee is no stranger to courting controversy with his inflammatory statements. He has enraged LGBT rights advocated by opining that HIV positive people should be isolated and has compared same-sex relationships to illegal drug uses. He has infuriated Muslims by calling them “uncorked animals.” He has been excoriated by women’s rights groups for comments seen as trivializing or even excusing rape. He has even claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in which 27 people, mostly young children, were slaughtered by a mentally ill man with easy access to guns, happened because “we systematically removed God from our schools.”
At a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday, President Obama responded to Huckabee’s latest remarks by calling them “part of a general pattern that would be considered ridiculous, if it wasn’t so sad.”
“We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We’ve had a sitting senator, who also happens to be running for president, suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Obama said. “These are leaders in the Republican Party.”
“When you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention, and maybe it’s just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that’s needed for America right now,” Obama added, referring to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who is known for his bombastic and inflammatory remarks.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, blasted Huckabee on Monday.
“This rhetoric, while commonplace in today’s Republican presidential primary, has no place in American politics,” she said in a statement. “Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable. Mike Huckabee must apologize to the Jewish community and to the American people for this grossly irresponsible statement.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the nation’s foremost Jewish advocacy groups, has previously called on Huckabee to refrain from flippantly using Holocaust imagery in his remarks. ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement in the wake of Huckabee’s latest comments, slamming them as “completely out of line and unacceptable.”
“To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening,” wrote Greenblatt.
Huckabee responded by doubling down on his comments with more Holocaust talk.
“What’s ‘ridiculous and sad’ is that President Obama does not take Iran’s repeated threats seriously,” he said on Monday. “For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust.’ ‘Never again’ will be the policy of my administration and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust.”