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January 03, 2008 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-01-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Huckabee's Rise

Minister mixes evangelical rhetoric with willingness to buck conservatives.

Ben Harris and Ami Eden

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York


ike Huckabee was a barely
known former governor of
Arkansas when he attended an
October house party on his behalf at the
home of Jason Bedrick, New Hampshire's
first Orthodox Jewish state representative.
"No one had ever heard of the last gov-
ernor from Hope, Ark., Bill Clinton, the
summer before he was elected:' Bedrick
told Yeshiva World News. "Huckabee is
polling well in all the early states. He's a
long shot, but he's the best shot we've got."
Barely two months later, those words
seem prophetic.
The latest poll numbers from the Des
Moines Register show Huckabee surging
ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney in the run-up to the Jan. 3 Iowa
caucuses. Other surveys show him lead-
ing nationally and in several key states,
including South Carolina and Florida.
"He is truly a uniter and not a divider.
This is a guy who is very positive, very
uplifting," said Bedrick, the gabbai at the
Chabad synagogue in Wellesley Hills,
Mass. "This is a country that needs some
healing in addition to leadership. And of
all the candidates in all the parties, he is
the only top-tier candidate that can pro-
vide that:'
To boot, Huckabee is pro-Israel: He
has visited the Jewish state nine times
and told the crowd at the Bedrick house
that he favored the establishment of a
Palestinian state — in Egypt or Saudi
For many American Jews, however, the
thought of a staunchly pro-life, ordained
Baptist minister as president is a major

cause for alarm. Especially one like
Huckabee, who has called on Americans
to "take this nation back for Christ:' signed
a newspaper advertisement stating that
wives should submit to their husbands
and stated that he does not believe in
Huckabee in recent weeks has faced
increased scrutiny over his use of religion
on the campaign trail,
including one commer-
cial describing the can-
didate as a "Christian
leader" and another in
which part of a book-
case that looked like a
cross appeared to be
hovering behind him
as he wished viewers a
Merry Christmas.
At one recent cam-
paign stop he declared,
"What's wrong with
our country, what is
wrong with our culture,
is that you can't say
the name Jesus Christ
Mike Huckabee
without people going
completely berserk"
Even as critics have sought
to paint Huckabee as reli-
giously intolerant, the former
Arkansas governor and many
pundits have portrayed him
as the embodiment of a new
breed of evangelical Christian
voter, one who sees not only a
religious imperative to stake
out conservative positions on social issues
like abortion and gay marriage, but also in
some instances to take more liberal stands
on race, taxes, poverty, immigration and
the environment.
He has employed populist rhetoric in
slamming the establishment of his own

Elec tiOA

The Jewish Vote

New York/JTA — Primary season has traditionally been a spectator sport for Jewish
voters, thanks to an electoral schedule that has historically favored states with tiny
Jewish communities.
In 2004, for example, by the time a state with more than 100,000 Jews held a pri-
mary, Howard Dean was long gone, John Edwards was on his last legs and John Kerry
had essentially locked up the Democratic nomination.
This election cycle, as the nation readies for the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and the
New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8, it appears as if the Jewish vote could play a role
in deciding the Democratic nomination. That's because this time around many
big states have pushed up their primaries and polls show a tightening race for the
Democratic nomination.


January 3 2008

party, challenged its general embrace of
free trade and recently criticized the Bush
administration's "arrogant" approach to
international diplomacy.
The combination of Huckabee's rapid
rise, his religiosity and his willingness
to buck conservative political orthodoxy
has some observers describing him as a
refreshing development with the ability to
transcend the bitterly
partisan atmosphere in
Others see him as
a threat — whether
it be liberals worried
about the separation
of church and state
or Republicans afraid
that a Huckabee vic-
tory could break the
decades-long affiance
between economic and
religious conservatives
that has produced sig-
nificant GOP victories.
"The more liberal
Jews find out about
his core values of
Christianity, the less
they'll like him," journalist
Zev Chafets told JTA, shortly
after writing a cover story on
Huckabee for the New York
Times Magazine.
Chafets, the Pontiac, Mich.-
born Israeli government
spokesman turned journalist,
told JTA that "there's no doubt
that Huckabee is a Christian conservative
in the mold of [the late Jerry] Falwell or
Pat Robertson, speaking politically."
In 1998, Huckabee told a Baptist con-
vention to "take this nation back for
Christ" and said that he "got into politics
because I knew government didn't have
the real answers, that the real answers lie
in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives:'
That same year, his book on America's
"culture of violence" lumped environmen-
talism with pornography and drug abuse
as forces that have "fragmented and polar-
ized our communities."
Also in '98, Huckabee signed an adver-
tisement in USA Today supporting "bibli-
cal principles of marriage and family life
one of which stipulates that the "wife is to
submit herself graciously to the servant
leadership of her husband even as the
church willingly submits to the headship

of Christ."
During a debate earlier this year,
Huckabee said he did not believe in evo-
lution. At the Family Research Council's
Values Voter Summit in Washington, he
bemoaned the "holocaust of liberalized
Several observers and Jewish communal
leaders from Arkansas, however, reject
efforts to paint Huckabee as a danger-
ous extremist, even as they stressed they
would never vote for him.
"Jews have nothing to fear from
Huckabee," said Jerry Tanenbaum, a resi-
dent of Hot Springs, Ark., and a supporter
of the Union for Reform Judaism. "I never
found him in Arkansas to be particularly
invasive with his religion on other people's
Tanenbaum, who says he would never
vote for Huckabee, described the GOP can-
didate as being "fairly temperate in the way
he handles things" and said that as gover-
nor, he "tried to keep politics and religion
separate to the best of his ability." 0

Israel's Critics

The Charge
Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Michal
Sabbah recently criticized the Israeli
government's request that Palestinians
recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Patriarch Sabbah said [in this holy
land] religious states cannot be estab-
lished because they would exclude or
place in an inferior position the believ-
ers of the other religions.

The Answer
These comments are the parting shots
of a man who has not been a friend to
Israel. His comments obviously ignore
both the fact that Israel guarantees
religious freedom to members of all
faiths and that Jews are a people with
a national identity, not just a religious
one. His comments are not Vatican pol-
icy, as the Vatican recognizes Israel and
has spoken out against anti-Israelism.

- Allan Gale,
Jewish Community Relations Council of

Metropolitan Detroit

@copyright Jan. 3, 2008, Jewish Renaissance Media

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